Él, 1953

A peculiar, quasi-religious solemn ceremony – in a drolly surreal sequence that even manages to insert Luis Buñuel’s notorious foot fetish – sets the metaphoric theme for the often (uncomfortably) over-intimate societal relationship between parishioner and priest (and more broadly, the individual and the church) as a dashing aristocrat, Don Francisco (Arturo de Córdova) assists […]

A Wonderful World, 2006

A drunken vagrant, Juan Pérez’s (Damián Alcázar) unexpected turn in fortune after sneaking into an office at the World Financial Center headquarters one cold and rainy evening sets the stage for Luis Estrada’s A Wonderful World, a dense, darkly comic, and provocative, if mean-spirited sardonic fairytale on the politics of poverty, charity, globalization, and social […]

Silent Light, 2007

On the surface, it’s hard to find fault with the execution of Carlos Reygadas’s latest film, Silent Light, a timeless tale of love, betrayal, desire, and sacrifice set within a remote (and appropriately atemporal) Mennonite community in rural northern Mexico. Nevertheless, despite an implicitly spiritual context that is suggested by the religious community setting, and […]

Battle in Heaven, 2005

Provocative, explicit, horrifying, uncompromising, yet unmistakably humanist, Battle in Heaven is the film that Bruno Dumont should have made after L’Humanité. Instead, it is Carlos Reygadas who rekindles the spirit of Robert Bresson in his exposition on ritualism as a path to transcendence. For the film’s protagonist, Marcos (Marcos Hernández), mundane ritual has come to […]