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Caetano x 2: Bolivia & Pizza, Beer & Smokes

PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2007 8:46 pm
by arsaib4
[OP - 2005 / From Arg Journal]

BOLIVIA (Argentina-Ned / 2001)

Argentinas financial collapse of the late-90s, which resulted in vast socio-economic instabilities, has been broached since then in one form or another in numerous documentaries and films. Filmmaker Adrin Caetano (Pizza, Beer & Smokes [1997]), one of the numerous talented young filmmakers of the Argentinian New Wave, has attempted to expose that burgeoning underbelly of corruption and hatred in his excellent second feature, Bolivia. The films rather ironic title, however, also hints towards the fact that even in dire circumstances, Argentina was more or less still considered the "land of opportunity" for the denizens of its neighboring countries whove been in worst shape all along. Caetano, himself a Uruguayan immigrant, perhaps knows the account quite well. Like recent Argentinian films such as Pablo Traperos Crane World (1999) and Diego Lermans Suddenly (2002), Bolivia is shot in a gritty, neo-realistic fashion, thus enabling the aesthetic to help establish the overall tone of the film, which also takes a no-nonsense approach towards its simple yet powerful narrative. It concerns an illegal Bolivian immigrant, Freddy (Freddy Flores), whos come to Argentina in order to support his family back home. He lands a job as a cook in a small restaurant in Buenos Aires. Naturally, Freddy is unwelcomed for various reasons, most importantly being that hes taking an opportunity away from a local in that flailing economy. Freddys employer (Enrique Liporace) isnt paying him much, but hes certainly not in a position to negotiate. Caetanos protagonist simply wants to live and work in peace, but the rowdy patrons of the restaurant continue to make life difficult for him and a fellow waitress (Rosa Snchez) he's fallen for, which ultimately results in violence. Winner of a plethora of awards from major festivals like Cannes and Rotterdam, this 75-minute-film approaches its subject with the sort of humility thats rarely seen nowadays. And while doing so, it proves once again that important films can be made on a modest level.


*BOLIVIA premiered at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival (Critics' Week).

*Available on U.S. DVD from New Yorker Video.

*"Watched the short but effective Bolivia today as part of my Latin American Cinema course. I liked how despite the tones of being "realistic" it didn't utilize a bunch of amateurish camera work and piss poor lighting. There is a way to be refined but unpolished and this film accomplished that. The limited running time also served it well because the film didn't feel stretched, and everything had its reason. The subject is of course relevant in this country with the substitution being Mexicans for Bolivians, however the debate remains the same. A cinema of desperation that somehow managed to not be moralizing in its tone" (wpqx, 9/20/07).

Re: Caetano x 2: Bolivia & Pizza, Beer & Smokes

PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2007 9:00 pm
by arsaib4
[OP 10/12/06 - Arg Journal]

PIZZA, BEER & SMOKES (Argentina / 1997)

In early to mid 90s, such acclaimed films as Rapado (1992) and Historias Breves (1995) paved the way -- both commercially and aesthetically -- for the new generation of Argentinian filmmakers now considered the "New Wave." Historias Breves, a much heralded effort which comprised of 10 shorts, brought the likes of Adrin Caetano, Daniel Burman (Un Crisantemo Estalla en Cinco Esquinas [1998]), and Lucrecia Martel (La Cinaga [2001]) into the publics eye for the first time. For his remarkably assured debut feature, Pizza, Beer & Smokes (Pizza, Birra, Faso), the Montevideo-born Caetano decided to team up with filmmaker Bruno Stagnaro, whose short was also featured in the aforementioned film. Their joint effort ended up being one of the major early successes of the New Argentinian Cinema, and established a cult-like status among the youth, perhaps just as much for its colorful language (even the latter two words in the Spanish title of the film are local slangs) as for the pertinent socio-economic issues it conjured up. Shot via a documentary-style aesthetic and with a mostly non-professional cast, Pizza, Beer & Smokes features a gang of disaffected, unemployed street-youth who commit petty crimes in order to get by. Each endeavor introduces a new set of challenges for them which theyre barely able to meet. And this eventually ends up alienating the pregnant girlfriend (Pamela Jordn) of their leader, El Cordobs (Hctor Anglada), who is now forced to make a decision regarding the path he wants to traverse as the authorities close in. Certainly a premise ripe enough to be engaged in melodrama or didacticism, but Caetano and Stagnaro do away with both; instead, they channel their energies in implementing a gritty, low-key realism that the Dardennes' films are regarded for. And speaking of great films, Buuel's Mexican masterpiece, Los Olvidados (1950), is paid an homage by the filmmakers in a sequence involving an attack on a paraplegic.


*Available on DVD in the U.S. (Cinematica).

Re: Caetano x 2: Bolivia & Pizza, Beer & Smokes

PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2007 8:33 pm
by wpqx
I found the film a bit disappointing. Maybe I'm just bothered by the whole concept of realism, a term which gets thrown around far too often. Why does "realism" have to imply a petty life of criminals? The film can be applauded for its non-moralizing tone but it fails in a way for its singular vision.

Re: Caetano x 2: Bolivia & Pizza, Beer & Smokes

PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2007 9:14 pm
by arsaib4
I agree that this concept is utilized far too ofen as an expression for approval or admiration, but I don't see a problem with employing it as an explanatory tool. "Realism" doesn't imply "petty life of criminals," it simply is the means through which the said life is depicted. Many filmmakers attempt to do so, but as we know, only a few truly succeed. The neorealistic Bolivia is certainly the superior film.

Re: Caetano x 2: Bolivia & Pizza, Beer & Smokes

PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2007 11:29 pm
by wpqx
Agreed I think that said far more relevant things and focused on a situation that seems parallel to one in our own culture.