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August Films / películas de agosto

Written by Arion on Saturday, September 01 2012 and posted in Blog

In 2005 I saw “Batman Begins”, it was a much needed reinterpretation on an iconic character that had been mishandled in previous filmic incarnations. Then came “The Dark Knight” (2008), a masterpiece of the superhero genre and one of the best films I’ve seen in my life (I’m including it on my personal Top 100). Now it was time for The Dark Knight Rises (2012), the last part of Christopher Nolan’s trilogy. Christian Bale (Bruce Wayne), Gary Oldman (Commissioner Gordon), Morgan Freeman (Lucius Fox) and Michael Caine (Alfred Pennyworth) are once again reunited for the shocking conclusion of this saga. An already talented cast is complemented by actors such as Tom Hardy (Bane), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Blake), Anne Hathaway (Selina) and Marion Cotillard (Miranda / Talia). The Dark Knight Rises is an intense story that has been inspired by some of the most extraordinary Batman comics. We have an older Bruce Wayne isolated in his mansion and out of shape, very similar to Frank Miller’s groundbreaking reimagining of the character in The Dark Knight Returns; we also have references to Son of the Demon (the romance of Bruce Wayne and Talia, daughter of Ra’s Al Ghul), Knightfall (Bane breaking Batman’s spine) and most especially No Man’s Land (personally one of my favorite sagas from the past 20 years, an ambitious story that lasted for almost two years and was developed through multiple Batman titles simultaneously). The Dark Knight Rises also connects with the two previous films, thus rewarding loyal fans. A truly great Batman film that everyone should have seen by now.

Woody Allen’s To Rome with Love (2012) is a very entertaining comedy with some surrealist touches and lighthearted characters. Roberto Benigni is a common man that becomes famous, proving that all famous people are, in reality, as vain, as shallow and as uninteresting as he is, except that they have the fortune of fame. Penélope Cruz is an attractive prostitute that will create more than a few problems for a recently married man. Jesse Eisenberg is a young architect mentored by his older self (Alec Baldwin) who has an affair with his girlfriend’s best friend. There are some great moments here, and I laughed a lot in some of the scenes. It was also so wonderful to see a couple of surprises: Woody acting again and the special appearance of legendary actress Ornella Muti. 

The Ward (2010) directed by John Carpenter is a horror story about a group of girls in a mental institution, Carpenter creates some truly scary moments, although the ending is a bit of a let dow; Amber Heard is the protagonist and she gives a strong performance. The Hitcher (2007) is starred by Sean Bean (a tremendously dangerous psychopath killer that hitchhikes and kills people on the road), and Zachary Knighton (who had a minor role in the magnificent “The Mudge Boy”) and Sophia Bush; it has good moments, although sometimes the action scenes are too exaggerated. Captivity (2007) is about a supermodel kidnapped by a sadist, as she’s tortured inside a mysterious room, she soon befriends another prisoner. Except for a few minor plot holes, this is a compelling story with lots of suspense packed in it. Attack the Block (2011) is quite an interesting British production that chronicles an alien invasion in one of the poorest areas of London. A group of young kids, including Luke Treadaway (famous for his role as a homosexual teen willing to have sex with an older man in “Clapham Junction”) will defeat the aliens. Humor, explosive surprises and a clever plot add value to an already original approach. Bummer Summer (2010) is a black and white, independent movie directed, written and starred by Zach Weintraub, it deals with teenage romance, hormones and the awakening of sexuality in a subtle and yet compelling manner. 

Up until the late 80s, the church was insured against lawsuits that involved accusations of sexual abuse. Judgment (1990) narrates the quandaries of a religious family that makes a startling discovery: their youngest son had been repeatedly raped by the town’s priest. Based on a real life case, this movie tackles on the difficult subject of pedophilia within members of the church, and explains why, in the late 80s, the insurance companies decided to stop protecting the church, after all, the cases of child molestation became very frequent. In a similar venue, The Boys of St. Vincent (1992) is a Canadian production that focuses on an orphanage. Inside its walls, priests and reverends practice anal sex with underage boys on a daily basis, without parents or family, these kids are treated as sexual slaves, until one of them manages to escape and tells the shocking truth to the police. It’s also based on a real life case. Richard Bell’s Eighteen (2005) is a peculiar story about male bonding in WWII (Brendan Fletcher is an 18-year-old soldier trying to survive in the aftermath of a gruesome battle) and Paul Anthony is an immature young man who has access to the memories of the young soldier. Homosexuality is present in both scenarios, as the libidinal link between Brendan Fletcher and another soldier, and in Paul Anthony’s family (his gay brother had been abused by his own father). I liked the way homosexuality is only hinted at, being disclosed only in the case of Paul Anthony’s best friend, a male prostitute. 

It had been a while since the last time I saw so many short films, so this month all of them come from the Cruel Britannia anthology. All Over Brazil is about an Irish boy who loves sports but has a secret tendency he must hide at all costs: he enjoys dressing up as a woman and wearing his sister’s makeup. I Don’t Care is an intense tale about a young man who helps his sick mother, practically slaved by the constant care of the old woman, he has been deprived of a real life, until he finds an attractive drug addict that seems to be very interested in having sex with him. I liked it, and I thought it had a poignant ending. Downing is an hilarious short film about a gay teen and a girl that go to a party, the gay soon finds himself fascinated by the boy who’s throwing the party, and after sneaking into his room starts masturbating while fantasizing about him. This is a very refreshing take on the typical ‘gay in straight party’ formula, all actors are young but very talented. I highly recommend it. Man and Boy, as the title suggests, depicts the relationship between an underage boy and a mature man, when the child’s father discovers that there’s something fishy going on, he becomes violent, however he doesn’t know that the boy, instead of a victim, had actually seduced the man in the first place. Nightswimming is a melancholic tale about a high school kid and his girlfriend, who break into a gymnasium to swim in the pool, the guard doesn’t say anything but keeps watching them, clearly, the old man feels an unspoken desire towards the young male body he contemplates, and when the girl is sleeping and the adult and the lad are in the bathroom together, something happens between them. Spring is an intense display of a sadomasochist encounter, a student accepts to visit a man that wishes to torture him, I liked the director’s boldness and his treatment of a theme that is rarely explored. Diana and What You Looking At are two interesting short films that explore the lives of transgendered individuals. This month I also watched Positively Naked (2005), a documentary about Spencer Tunick and POZ magazine, the well-known artist decides to photograph a naked group of 85 HIV positive people. As men and women get naked, they also reveal their innermost fears and worries about their disease. 

Of course, August wouldn’t be complete without some international productions. From Spain comes El Bola (2000) directed by Achero Mañas, Juan José Ballesta has his first main role here, and he excels as a young boy that is abused by his father and seeks shelter in his best friend’s family. There is something unique about the way Mañas portrays a fragmented family, which is nothing but a reflection of an ideologically and economically fragmented coutry. With very moving moments, El Bola deals with the complicated subject of child abuse; coming of age and friendship are also fundamental aspects of the film. Eu Me Lembro (2005) is a Brazilian production in which a young boy remembers his entire life, when he was a kid and he spied on his brother having sex, when he was a teenager and was following his friends advice on masturbation techniques and when he was a young adult, losing his virginity and finding the psychedelic drugs and music that defined the 60s. Peter Kern’s Blutsfreundschaft (2009) is a coming of age story about a young man that becomes a Neo Nazi (Harry Lampl) and after accidentally murdering a man finds refuge in the Helmut Berger’s house, the old man is a homosexual who feels enthralled by the beauty of the teenager, but nothing can be easy in a town subjugated by Neo Nazis and homophobes. Especially memorable are the flashback scenes in which Berger remembers his past as part of the Hitler Youth Movement in WWII, violence and a homosexual romance with another boy tarnished his reputation for life.

Svoboda Eto Rai (1990) is a Russian movie about Sasha, a child that is locked up in an institution for underage orphans. The sexual abuse and the constant fights turn this place into a true hell, so Sasha runs away over and over again, always getting captured, until he finally achieves his goal. He travels thousands of miles until he arrives to a state prison. Inside those walls, his father is a prisoner. Wszystko Co Kocham (2009) is a Polish film directed by Jacek Borcuch and starred by Mateusz Kosciukiewicz and Jakub Gierszal (famous for his role as a sexually ambiguous teen in “Sala samobójców”). Translated as “All that we love”, this is an unforgettable story about a group of boys growing up in the turmoil of communism and a socially disjointed nation. The boys have a punk band and are deemed as subversives by teachers and military authorities, however the strength of their friendship allows them to overcome all obstacles. Mateusz Kosciukiewicz loses a relative, has sex for the first time in his life and discovers love in the arms of a lovely girl. If I had to choose the best film of the month it would probably be this one. Curiously, years ago I knew nothing about Poland’s filmic productions and after watching Sala samobójców and Wszystko Co Kocham I’m sure I’ll continue finding many other hidden gems. 

En el 2005 vi “Batman Begins”, una necesaria reinterpretación del icónico personaje que había tenido mala suerte en anteriores reencarnaciones fílmicas. Luego llegó “The Dark Knight” (2008) una obra maestra del género de súper-héroes y una de las mejores películas que he visto en mi vida (la incluyo en mi top 100 personal). Ahora era el momento de "The Dark Knight Rises" (2012), la última parte de la trilogía de Christopher Nolan. Christian Bale (Bruce Wayne), Gary Oldman (comisionado Gordon), Morgan Freeman (Lucius Fox) y Michael Caine (Alfred Pennyworth) se reúnen nuevamente en la impactante conclusión de esta saga. Un elenco talentoso es complementado por actores como Tom Hardy (Bane), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Blake), Anne Hathaway (Selina) y Marion Cotillard (Miranda / Talia). "The Dark Knight Rises" es una historia intensa que ha sido inspirada por algunos de los más extraordinarios cómics de Batman. Tenemos a un Bruce Wayne avejentado, en malas condiciones y aislado en su mansión, muy similar a la versión de Frank Miller en "The Dark Knight Returns"; también hay referencias a "Knightfall" (Bane rompe la columna vertebral de Batman) y especialmente a "No Man’s Land" (personalmente una de mis sagas favoritas de los últimos 20 años, un ambicioso relato que duró cerca de dos años y fue desarrollado en múltiples títulos de Batman simultáneamente). "The Dark Knight Rises" también se conecta con las dos películas previas, recompensando así a los fans leales. Una gran película que todos deberían haber visto.
"To Rome with Love" (2012) de Woody Allen es una entretenida comedia con personajes desenfadados. Roberto Benigni es un hombre común que se vuelve famoso, demostrando que todas las personas famosas son, en realidad, tan vanidosas, superficiales y poco interesantes como él, aunque tienen la fortuna de la fama. Penélope Cruz es una atractiva prostituta que creará más de un problema a un recién casado. Jesse Eisenberg es un joven arquitecto que se encuentra consigo mismo en versión adulta (Alec Baldwin) y tiene un romance con la mejor amiga de su enamorada. Hay momentos grandiosos aquí, y me reí bastante en algunas escenas. También fue estupendo ver un par de sorpresas: Woody actuando nuevamente y la aparición especial de la legendaria actriz Ornella Muti. 

"The Ward" (2010) dirigida por John Carpenter es una historia de terror sobre un grupo de chicas en un manicomio, Carpenter logra crear momentos que asustan aunque el final es un poco decepcionante; Amber Heard, la protagonista, actúa bastante bien. "The Hitcher" (2007) es protagonizada por Sean Bean (un asesino psicópata tremendamente peligroso que mata gente en la carretera), y Zachary Knighton (tuvo un rol menor en la magnífica “The Mudge Boy”) y Sophia Bush; hay buenos momentos, aunque a veces las escenas de acción son demasiado exageradas. "Captivity" (2007) es sobre una supermodelo secuestrada por un sádico, mientras es torturada en una misteriosa habitación, se hace amiga de un prisionero. Excepto por algunos huecos argumentales, se trata de una historia que atrapa y con buen suspenso. "Attack the Block" (2011) es una interesante producción británica que narra una invasión extraterrestre en una de las áreas más pobres de Londres. Un grupo de jóvenes, incluyendo a Luke Treadaway (famoso por su rol como un adolescente homosexual dispuesto a tener sexo con un adulto en “Clapham Junction”), derrotarán a los extraterrestres. Humor, explosivas sorpresas y un argumento bien planteado añaden valor a una propuesta ya de por sí valiosa. "Bummer Summer" (2010), escrita, dirigida y protagonizada por Zach Weintraub es una cinta independiente en blanco y negro que lidia con el romance adolescente, las hormonas y el despertar de la sexualidad de forma sutil pero cautivadora.

Hasta fines de los 80, la iglesia estaba asegurada contra demandas por abuso sexual. Judgment (1990) narra los pormenores de una familia religiosa que descubre algo terrible: el hijo menor había sido violado repetidas veces por el cura del pueblo. Basado en un caso de la vida real, la película aborda el difícil tema de la pedofilia en los miembros de la iglesia y explica por qué, en los 80, las aseguradoras decidieron darle la espalda a la iglesia, después de todo, los casos de violación de menores eran cada vez más frecuentes. De similar temática, "The Boys of St. Vincent" (1992) es una producción canadiense que se enfoca en un orfanato. Dentro de sus muros, reverendos y curas practican sexo anal con muchachos menores de edad a diario, sin padres o familia, estos chiquillos son tratados como esclavos sexuales hasta que uno de ellos escapa y cuenta la terrible verdad a la policía. También se basa en un caso de la vida real. "Eighteen" (2005) de Richard Bell es una peculiar historia sobre la amistad entre hombres en la Segunda Guerra Mundial (Brendan Fletcher es un soldado de 18 años intentando sobrevivir luego de una sangrienta batalla) y Paul Anthony es un inmaduro joven que tiene acceso a las memorias del joven soldado. La homosexualidad está presente en ambos escenarios, ya sea como el vínculo libidinal entre Brendan Fletcher y otro soldado, o en la familia de Paul Anthony (su hermano gay había sido abusado por el padre de ambos). Me gustó ver cómo la homosexualidad es solamente sugerida, resultando evidente solamente en el caso del mejor amigo de Paul, un prostituto.
August Films / películas de agosto
my drawing / mi dibujo

Hacía tiempo que no veía tantos cortometrajes, así que este mes todos vienen de la antología “Cruel Britannia”. "All Over Brazil" es sobre un chiquillo irlandés que ama los deportes pero tiene una tendencia secreta que debe ocultar: disfruta vistiéndose como mujer y usando el maquillaje de su hermana. "I Don’t Care" es un intenso relato sobre un joven que es el enfermero de su madre, prácticamente esclavizado al cuidar a esta mujer enferma, ha sido privado de una vida real, hasta que encuentra a un atractivo drogadicto que está muy interesado en tener sexo con él. Tiene un buen final. "Downing" es un hilarante cortometraje sobre un adolescente gay que va a una fiesta con una chica, el chico gay se siente rápidamente fascinado por el dueño de la casa, y luego de entrar a su cuarto se masturba mientras fantasea con él. Este es un giro refrescante en la típica fórmula de "gay en una fiesta heterosexual", todos los actores son jóvenes pero sumamente talentosos. Lo recomiendo. "Man and Boy", como sugiere el título, retrata la relación entre un menor de edad y un adulto, cuando el padre del chaval descubre que algo raro pasa, reacciona violentamente, sin embargo, él no sabe que el jovencito, en vez de ser una víctima, había seducido al adulto. "Nightswimming" es un melancólico relato sobre un estudiante de secundaria y su enamorada; ambos se meten a nadar en una piscina sin permiso, y el guardia no les dice nada pero los observa, claramente, el hombre siente un deseo innombrable hacia el joven cuerpo masculino, y cuando la chica duerme y el viejo y el muchacho están juntos en el baño, algo sucede entre ellos. "Spring" es un intenso vistazo a un encuentro sadomasoquista, un estudiante acepta visitar a un hombre que desea torturarlo, me agradó la audacia del director y el tratamiento de un tema que rara vez es explorado. "Diana" y "What You Looking At" son dos interesantes cortometrajes sobre transexuales. Este mes también vi "Positively Naked" (2005), un documental sobre Spencer Tunick y la revista POZ, el conocido artista decide fotografiar a un grupo de 85 portadores del SIDA desnudos. Mientras hombres y mujeres se desvisten, también revelan sus más profundos miedos y preocupaciones sobre su enfermedad.

Por supuesto, agosto no estaría completo sin algunas producciones internacionales. De España llega "El Bola" (2000) dirigida por Achero Mañas, Juan José Ballesta tiene su primer rol protagónico y destaca como un niño que al sufrir el abuso de su padre busca cobijo en la familia de su mejor amigo. Hay algo único en la manera en que Mañas retrata a una familia fragmentada, que no es otra cosa sino el reflejo de un país ideológica y económicamente fragmentado. Con momentos conmovedores, El Bola asume la complicada temática del abuso infantil, el crecimiento y la amistad son también aspectos fundamentales del film. "Eu Me Lembro" (2005) es una producción de Brasil, un joven recuerda toda su vida, añora la época en la que era un niño y espiaba a su hermano durante sus coitos furtivos, la época en la que era un adolescente siguiendo los consejos de sus amigos sobre técnicas masturbatorias; finalmente cuando ya es joven, pierde la virginidad y encuentra las drogas psicodélicas y la música que definieron los 60. "Blutsfreundschaft" (2009) de Peter Kern describe los avatares de un jovencito que se vuelve neo nazi (Harry Lampl) y luego de asesinar accidentalmente a un hombre busca refugio en el hogar de Helmut Berger, un anciano homosexual fascinado por la belleza del adolescente, pero nada es fácil en un pueblo subyugado por neo nazis y homofóbicos. Son especialmente memorables los flashback en los que Berger recuerda su pasado como parte del movimiento juvenil hitleriano en la Segunda Guerra Mundial, la violencia y el romance homosexual con otro muchachito embarran su reputación de por vida.

"Svoboda Eto Rai" (1990) es una cinta rusa sobre Sasha, un niño que está encerrado en una institución para huérfanos menores de edad. Los abusos sexuales y las constantes peleas hacen de este lugar un infierno, así que Sasha intenta escapar una y otra vez y siempre es capturado, hasta que finalmente alcanza su meta. Viaja miles de millas hasta que llega a una prisión estatal. Su padre es un prisionero allí. "Wszystko Co Kocham" (2009) es un film polaco dirigido por Jacek Borcuch y protagonizado por Mateusz Kosciukiewicz y Jakub Gierszal (famoso por su rol como un adolescente sexualmente ambiguo en “Sala samobójców”). Traducida como "Todo lo que amamos", esta es una inolvidable historia sobre un grupo de chicos que crecen en el caos del comunismo y de una nación socialmente descoyuntada. Los muchachos tienen un grupo punk y son considerados como subversivos por profesores y autoridades militares, sin embargo la fuerza de la amistad les permite sobreponerse a todos los obstáculos. Mateusz Kosciukiewicz experimenta la muerte de un familiar, el sexo por primera vez en su vida y descubre el amor en los brazos de una adorable chica. Si tuviera que elegir la mejor película del mes probablemente sería esta. Curiosamente, hace años no sabía nada del cine polaco, y luego de ver "Sala samobójców" y "Wszystko Co Kocham" estoy seguro que seguiré encontrando joyas ocultas.

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About the Author - Arion

Arion, who is either from Chile or New York (it’s not really clear) writes a blog that the Outhouse steals on a regular basis.  Arion is by far the nicest of all the staff writers and the most well behaved only having been banned from one country.  One thing we really appreciate about Aroin is that he writes his reviews in English and Spanish and we hope someday he’ll translate this blurb for us.  We’re not so good at languages, just look at how well we write in English if you need proof.  You should bookmark Arion’s blog - – and actually look at it.  There will be a quiz at the end of every month.


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