Argentina x 2: XXY (2007) & Ana y los otros (2003)

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Argentina x 2: XXY (2007) & Ana y los otros (2003)

Postby arsaib4 » Thu Mar 13, 2008 9:20 pm


Re: Argentina x 2: XXY (2007) & Ana y los otros (2003)

Postby arsaib4 » Fri Mar 14, 2008 4:34 am

XXY (Argentina-Spa-Fra / 2007)

*A 2008 (U.S.) Release*

In a recent article devoted to the copious virtues offered by the cinema of Lucrecia Martel, Argentine New Wave's most talented filmmaker, the inestimable American critic Kent Jones made an acute observation regarding the propensity in certain women directors to operate according to their own private rules, logic, timing, and sense of space. This, of course, applies to the work done by the best of them -- Martel, Claire Denis, Chantal Akerman, etc. But beyond that, over the years the unique textures of feminine sensibilities have enlivened many a hackneyed narrative. While one (thankfully) doesn't need to hurl such praise in the direction of the Buenos Aires-born thirtysomething Lucía Puenzo, who makes her feature directorial debut with XXY, her sensitive treatment of a difficult and, possibly, contentious subject matter could be linked back to female subjectivity.

Based on Sergio Bizzio's short story called Cinismo, the film concerns the sexual awakening of a 15-year-old born with genital ambiguity. Well played by Inés Efron, who was recently seen in Alexis Dos Santos' Glue (2006), the ostensibly female Alex has reached the age when gender is normally determined by corrective surgery. Eventually much to the chagrin of her supportive marine biologist father (an excellent Ricardo Darín), her mother (Valeria Bertuccelli) makes the initiative by inviting a cosmetic surgeon and his family to the isolated seaside village in Uruguay, where the trio have resided since moving from Buenos Aires. Upon their arrival, an increasingly irritable and emotionally volatile Alex, who feels as if she's about to be violated, ends up forming a bond of sorts with the surgeon's 16-year-old son Alvaro (Martín Piroyansky), someone who's struggling with his own identity issues.

Largely related in hushed tones, this melancholic effort is neither sensationalistic nor sentimental. And that's partly because, despite the film's acknowledgement of the fact that the ordeal faced by its protagonist is quite unique, it remains attuned to the dilemmas of other characters, especially Alvaro's. Puenzo's discerning eye towards the unwittingly fragile emotional and psychological bonds shared by parents and children evidences a level of maturity not usually seen in initial efforts. (Puenzo, who's the daughter of Luis, director of the popular Academy Award-winning movie The Official Story [1985], has written three novels and has a number of other credits to her name, including a screenplay for her father's latest, La puta y la ballena [2004].) Working with DP Natasha Braier (In the City of Sylvia [2007]), she makes good use of the natural light and the surrounding landscape, though her visual metaphors are too precious at times. Not as remarkable as the debut features from many of Puenzo's New Wave counterparts -- La ciénaga (2001) by Martel, Crane World (1999) by Pablo Trapero, La libertad (2001) by Lisandro Alonso, etc. -- but it's an assured and auspicious one nonetheless.

Grade: B
[C+ = Average / B- = Above Average / B = Good ]

Re: Argentina x 2: XXY (2007) & Ana y los otros (2003)

Postby arsaib4 » Sun Mar 16, 2008 4:58 am

*XXY premiered at Cannes '07 (Critics' Weeks), and won the sidebar competition's Grand Prize. It has since collected a host of other awards on the festival circuit. The film had its N. American premire at the Toronto Film Festival, which has gradually become the region's mecca for important Latin American films.

*U.S. distributor: Film Movement (May, '08)

Re: Argentina x 2: XXY (2007) & Ana y los otros (2003)

Postby arsaib4 » Sun Apr 13, 2008 6:13 am

[OP - 2005]


The jewels of the Argentine New Wave have finally started to spill over onto our shores, if not in theaters then at least on home video. After the recent DVD releases of the masterpieces from Lucrecia Martel and Pablo Trapero (La ciénaga [2001] and Crane World [1999], respectively), not to mention of the formidable debut of Diego Lerman (Suddenly [2002]), it's now the turn of yet another young Argentinian -- Celina Murga, who made her much heralded debut with Ana y los otros ("Ana and the Others"). The film is a Rohmer-esque tale involving a young woman's journey back to her hometown, and it's the sort of effort in which, as Film Comment's editor Kent Jones stated, "the big picture is inferred from the little details."

The titular Ana (Camila Toker, who was also featured in Murga's earlier short) is a twentysomething from Buenos Aires who returns to her northeastern coastal city of Paraná in order to sell the family home. But her goal also involves meeting with old friends, especially a former boyfriend who might still be living there. As we observe her casually strolling the streets, it doesn't take her long to come across familiar faces. She eventually meets up with her good pal (Natacha Massera) who's now married. Most of the life-like conversations in the film involve friends trying to scope-out each other; one advises her to settle down, but we get the sense that Ana cherishes her independence, something that unwittingly makes her that much more desirable. A former admirer certainly thinks so, but it doesn't take long for Ana to dispatch him in order to continue searching for the boyfriend.

A darling on the festival circuit, Ana y los otros is an acutely observed, wonderfully written and acted film which explores the psyche of its protagonist in a very low-key manner; like much of Rohmer's work, this film truly feels as light as a soufflé. And Murga, a twentysomething herself at the time she shot this film, is confident and talented enough to generate interest from her camera lingering on Ana's most mundane activities. There's some wry humor but it doesnt seem forced in any way. Murga seems a bit unsure about how to wrap things up, and there's a hint of preciousness late when Ana meets a young boy, but all in all, Ana, Paraná and the film are as sunny as it gets.

Re: Argentina x 2: XXY (2007) & Ana y los otros (2003)

Postby arsaib4 » Tue Apr 22, 2008 1:14 am

*Ana y los otros premiered at the prestigious Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema in 2003, and won a "Special Award." It went on to garner another at Venice later that year.

*The film didn't receive theatrical distribution in the U.S. but was released on DVD by Venevision back in 2005. No extra features.

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