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Battle in Heaven(Batalla en el cielo)

PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2005 6:17 pm
by Unregistered(d)
Latin America films seem on a roll at the moment. " Y tu madre tambien" "Diary of a Motorcyclist" etc.

I've just been to see " Battle in Heaven" by the Mexican director Carlos Reygadas. Yes, the first three minutes or so has oral sex that drew most of the publicity to the film but its a rather slow , plodding movie.And yet, it is one of those films that remains with you. It is said the director used mainly non actors but I don't know which were which.
I'd be interested in anyone elses opinion as I am sure there will be mixed emotions about this movie.

Re: Battle in Heaven(Batalla en el cielo)

PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2005 7:32 pm
by trevor826
It's coming to Cardiff soon so I hope to get a chance to see it, I'll give my verdict then.

Cheers Trev.

Re: Battle in Heaven(Batalla en el cielo)

PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 2005 10:09 pm
by trevor826
Saw it today, I'll get my thoughts down soon. I can understand why there has been so much said about the initial scene but all I can say is that there were several females in the audience, from early 20's to OAP age, none of them walked out and in fact I can't remember anyone walking out before the credits had finished rolling.

Cheers Trev.

Re: Battle in Heaven(Batalla en el cielo)

PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2005 4:31 pm
by A
I'm certainly going to watch this when it comes to german cinemas. Still haven't seen Reygadas' "Japon" which I missed on it's release, though. But "Battle in Heaven" really got much critical bashing. Read some thoughts on it in the september(?) issue of Film Comment, and my somebody really didn't like this movie
Looking forward to your comments.

Re: Battle in Heaven(Batalla en el cielo)

PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2005 5:16 am
by arsaib4
Are you sure it was Film Comment? I think it was Philipe Lopate you briefly covered it in the July/Aug Cannes issue and he was somewhat mixed.

Battle in Heaven comes out in the U.S. early next year. Looking forward to it!

Re: Battle in Heaven(Batalla en el cielo)

PostPosted: Sat Dec 10, 2005 6:00 pm
by trevor826
Batalla en el cielo (Mexico - 2005) Battle in Heaven

Directed by Carlos Reygadas

Starring Marcos Hernndez, Anapola Mushkadiz

Its hard writing any sort of cohesive comments about a film as incohesive and inconsistent as this one so I'll try and keep it brief although I've written a lot of jumbled up notes that may come into use for points of debate at some later date.

The opening scene has been discussed many times but still caught me out, the girl looks no older than about 14, quite disturbing. The tears from the girl, Ana are repeated by another character much later in the film.

There is good original use made of sound and vision, in one scene the two are intermingled, you hear what you see through a 360% turn and all other audio is cut out, very strange but very effective. A lot of the film is taken up with long slow pans from left to right and back again, taking in the normality and also the odd and at times slightly disturbing populace of the city.

There are quite a few interesting shots of Mexico City from strange angles, also a lot of panning shots of blank banal concrete buildings. The views outside of the city especially from the peak of a mist-covered hill were hauntingly beautiful.

Religion plays an important part in the film and is ever present, climaxing in Marcos's attempt to find repentance amidst a vast array of pilgrims gathered for a religious festival. There are also several clichs including Marcoss confession, although he considers Ana as almost a friend and later a lover, in a conventional turn Ana the prostitute is used for confessional reasons in much the same way as a priest.

Now down to the major issues.

The plot, an Army Generals chauffeur and his wife have kidnapped a baby, fair enough you might think, everyone knows theres a huge problem with kidnapping in several Latin American countries, but! Why on earth would anyone kidnap the baby of someone who is obviously worse off in almost every way than the kidnappers are, and who would kidnap the baby of a friend? Without this there is no film so I suppose we as the viewers have to accept that for whatever reason, it happened.

We dont see the kidnapping or the child, we only find out about it a little into the film when Carloss wife rings and tells him that the baby has died, this starts the chain of events rolling.

The acting (or lack of it) Ana was fine but Marcos and his wife, well let's just say Marcos is undoubtedly a good chauffeur, he just seemed totally blank and unbelievable when dealing with anything else, his wife was just very large, petty minded and downright scary. In fact as far as the kidnapping is concerned. I felt that the wife should have been the one filled with remorse and seeking redemption not Marcos, he seemed to be a puppet being continuously told what to do.

Sex. Yes the first scene is unsettling, but there are other moments, the animalistic humping between Marcos and his wife, like two great sweaty lumps of meat crashing together. Then there's Marcos (thankfully shown only from chest height) masturbating during a football match and repeating what the interviewed player has said? Another scene shows Marcos and Ana having sex, whats funny about this scene is even though the act is simulated, its quite obvious that Marcos has genuinely become aroused, the camera lingers on their bodies and genitalia as they lay on the bed side by side. The final scene of oral sex is obviously tied in with the initial scene.

As an experiment, it's interesting and certainly sticks in your mind but as a story that depends on a plot, it's pretty weak and nonsensical.

Would I see it again, well I've certainly been pondering that question myself and the answer is probably yes but I know (as with the majority of films) it caertainly won't have the same impact on the small screen.

Would I recommend it? To the average movie-goer, no chance but to the members of this site, absolutely. In fact I hope a few of you do as I'm sure it'll spark some discussion.

Again I apologise that these comments are a bit muddled but this is not an average film and is probably the most awkward I've tried to comment on.

Cheers Trev

BBFC rated 18

A dvd will be released sometime in the future by Tartan video.

Re: Battle in Heaven(Batalla en el cielo)

PostPosted: Sat Dec 10, 2005 7:07 pm
by A
Yes, it's the July/ August issue, I've checked it. You're right, the the comments are mixed, though for me it still sounded more negative than positive. The bad one I must have read in a longer review.
But I must say Tevor's are the most "positive" comments on the film I've read to date. :)
Still, I'm going to watch it, if I catch it somewhere.

Re: Battle in Heaven(Batalla en el cielo)

PostPosted: Sat Dec 10, 2005 8:31 pm
by trevor826
I have omitted several plot points including a major spoiler from my comments as I didn't want to give too much away.

Normally I like the use of non actors but I got the feeling that Marcos found great difficulty in actually getting into the right mind set for his role which would probably have been difficult even for an experienced actor.

It is an awkward film but as I said earlier, nobody left the screening, in fact everyone sat through the credits which is pretty unusual in itself.

I'd definitely recommend it to you A and arsaib4 along with a few others, I only wish I'd had someone to discuss it with straight after the screening.

Cheers Trev.

Re: Battle in Heaven(Batalla en el cielo)

PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2005 7:41 am
by arsaib4
An interesting review, Trev. I tried to see the film in Toronto but both of the screenings sold out pretty quickly. I wonder how many simply saw it for the lurid sex. Anyway, looking forward to discussing this one.

Re: Battle in Heaven(Batalla en el cielo)

PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2005 10:29 am
by trevor826
I'd actually feel sorry for anyone who went because of the sex scenes because they only take up a tiny proportion of the film and apart from the disturbing initial scene (and maybe final shot) they are more likely to amuse or embarrass, not titillate in any way.

Imagine the hard work of sitting through a difficult film made up of mostly slow panning shots and a laborious weak plot just for a flash of flesh (not exactly attractive flesh either)!

I'm not religious but found the religious aspect of the film to be the most satisfying part, religious devotion has an incredible hold over peoples lives and the scenes of the pilgrims and of Marcos seeking redemption are by far the strongest in the whole film.

I'd say for anyone wanting a flesh fest, stick with any of the thousands of porn films out there, Battle in Heaven will be too much effort for you.

Cheers Trev.