Mexican Cinema

The Exterminating Angel, 1962

The sound of a tolling church bell prefaces the bizarre events that are to unfold at a Mexican estate on Providence Street. An aristocrat appropriately named Nobile (Enrique Rambal) has invited several society friends to his home after the opera. But even as the dinner preparations are underway, the servants feel an inexplicable urge to… read more »

The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz, 1955

A seemingly rational, well mannered artist named Archibaldo de la Cruz (Ernesto Alonso) recounts the moment of revelation of his fated destiny as he methodically turns the pages of a photography book of war casualties. On an ominous evening during an unnamed civil insurrection, a spoiled young Archibaldo is entrusted to the care of a… read more »

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… read more »

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… read more »

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… read more »

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… read more »

Pan’s Labyrinth, 2006

During the Q&A for Pan’s Labyrinth, Guillermo del Toro commented that he conceived the image of Pale Man, a child-eating creature who could only see by raising his hands up to his face (as if paradoxically covering his eyes), as an allusion to the perverted image of stigmata – an affliction often associated with enlightened… read more »