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Top Five Mexican Movies

August 12, 2011

Another loooong Thursday afters’ = another list of stuff. This week: films.

1. “Y Tu Mama Tambien” (And Your Mum Too) is a classic film about two horny teenage lads (Gael Garcia Bernal & Diego Luna) from Mexico City who take a road trip to an invented beach so that they can sleep with a hot older woman from Spain. On the way they drink and get stoned and remain entirely oblivious to the social injustice around them, in true Mexican fashion. Exploring the twin themes of sex and death, director Alfonso Cuaron uses some incredibly complicated long takes and coaxes fantastically natural performances out of his talented cast. Spoiler: the ending isn’t one for homophobes.

2. “Rudo & Cursi” reunites Gael and Diego and just to keep things in the family it’s directed by Alfonso’s little bro, Carlos Cuaron. This time the two protagonists are aspiring footballers from Jalisco’s rural coastline who end up moving to the capital to play for rival clubs in the Mexican league. This satire of modern football, celebrity and narco culture sees the two country bumpkins fall into all of the inevitable pitfalls: Rudo develops a drug and gambling addiction while Cursi dedicates too much time to his hilariously bad singing career and his beautiful but vacuous and unfaithful celebrity girlfriend. This is much better than “Goal” or pretty much any other football related film.

Here’s Gael’s genius music video from the film:

3. “Rojo Amanecer” (Red Dawn) is by far the most moving of any of the films listed here (and not in the happy, uplifting sense; but in the shocking, what-a-horrific-injustice kind of way). Based on the true story of the Tlatelolco massacre in 1968 (the Mexican government didn’t like having leftist student protestors demanding basic rights and democracy, so waited for them all to congregate in a big square in the capital and then surrounded and promptly massacred them, before disposing of the bodies and denying it ever happened. All just days before Mexico hosted the Olympics. Let’s hope Dave Cameron never watches this and gets any ideas eh). The film, which all takes place inside one apartment, had to be shot in secret because even 20 years later the authorities still wouldn’t let anyone discuss the incident. Last time I was in Mexico I visited the square where it all happened. There’s a monument to the victims, although even today it’s still not known how many hundreds or even thousands were murdered, and it’s a pretty grim looking place as you can see:

Another film called “Tlatelolco 68” has been in production for years and although still listed on imdb for release in 2011 it has seemingly disappeared of the face of the earth. Could this be due to the fact that it apparently details the CIA’s considerable involvement in the massacre of a huge number of unarmed and innocent civilians in another sovereign state? Surely not.

4.  “La Ley de Herodes” (Herod’s Law) is the first of a trilogy made by Luis Estrada and starring Damian Alcazar (the other two, which you should also watch, being “Un Mundo Maravilloso” and last year’s narcocentric “El Infierno”). It tells the story of a stupid but initially well-meaning member of the PRI (The Institutional Revolutionary Party, which ruled Mexico in a what was essentially a dictatorship for 70 odd years until 2000, and now looks certain to return to power in next year’s general elections simply because Felipe Calderon has fucked the country up that badly) who gets sent to govern a backwards indigenous town where no one speaks Spanish, and gradually becomes more and more corrupt/authoritarian/mental. It’s pretty funny and the ending is very good and very clever.

5. Finally, it’s not really a film, but “Zapatistas: Cronica de una rebelion” (Chronicles of a Rebellion) is the best of the many Zapatista documentaries I have seen. Having been re-released in second and third editions it is also the most up-to-date, covering the movement’s most recent major activity in 2006, La Otra Campaña. Also worth a gander are the more outdated “A Place Called Chiapas” (watch free here) and the imaginatively titled “Zapatista” (watch here). If you have no idea what a Zapatista is then you can read more of my writings on those loveable indigenous rebels here and here. And as if that wasn’t enough here’s a photo I took in one of their autonomous communities:

Now go and watch them all then.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 21, 2012 22:45

    Missing off this list is “Amores Perros”, which in my opinion was the basis for the US movie
    “Crash”.

  2. February 21, 2012 22:49

    It is a good film but personally I didn’t enjoy it as much as those listed above. Can see what you mean about with the Crash comparison!

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