Sunday, December 4, 2022

Women of the Streets.

Prostitution, AIDS spreading, hopeless romances, brutal criminals taking advantage of the poor, & people living on the streets. This movie directed by Lazaro Morales George has a lot going on and a lot of it is very rough stuff and it all feels so damn trashy, too. And you know what gives it a more trashy feeling? Its opening/closing credits song that consists of a Casio keyboard playing & a man singing about loving a prostitute. All obviously done in one crummy take. 

Martha (Andrea Aguirre) and her boyfriend (Raul Araiza) are approached by corrupt police captain Robles (Claudio Baez) after its found out that Martha's boyfriend had stolen & lost a truck belonging to Robles which contained a ton of cocaine. To repay for the lost drug shipment, Martha’s boyfriend robs people of their money and Martha becomes a waitress/shitty dancer at one of Robles' cabarets. Robles begins to get a hard-on for Martha and he wants her all to himself and so badly that he rids of her boyfriend by having him killed and even going as far as getting Martha’s parents killed so she is left all alone. Robles then takes in Martha and has her work as a prostitute alongside others he has. We are then introduced to prostitute "Rosita" (Rosario Escobar) who ends up falling in love with a regular customer of hers (Omar Fierro) and their relationship gets more serious as they spend more time together. When Robles takes notice of this, he gets the boyfriend killed and gets Rosita infected with AIDS. Rosita then leaves to another part of town to “die” and is taken in by various homeless guys whom genuinely take care of her with whatever little means they have. 

Mujeres De La Calle: Prostitucion y SIDA is one of the several titles that was part of a sort-of rumbera/prostitute movie revisal that happened during the late 1980’s & early 1990’s. The formula for these movies were rather simple & always the same: A woman works as a dancer, cabaret singer, or forced into prostitution & always becomes an object of desire for the leading male characters (2 of them to be exact) and many conflicts ensue of course. Mujeres De La Calle is a lot like its inspirations from the past (1940’s-1960’s), but clearly updated with the current troubles of the time—in particular the AIDS epidemic. The movie of course isn't always serious despite its heavy conflicts—it also tries to be funny at times and mostly when it comes to the prostitutes getting with customers. There’s one scene with a little person trying to get up in the bed while Martha awaits for him in amusement. Then there's also light-hearted moments and mostly with the blossoming romance between Rosita and Omar Fierro's character. Could it work out? Will it work out? Cleary not, but the little hope of it all is there.

Mujeres De La Calle was shot on location and clearly in an actual rough Mexican neighborhood with working-class people, prostitutes & homeless people. This all made the movie look & feel genuine and this of course alongside a wonderful cast playing their roles perfectly—In particular Gerardo Zepeda, whom plays the big-hearted homeless man. Now the best character/most realistic of Mujeres De La Calle is the main antagonist who’s played by Claudio Baez. Claudio Baez can play one mean ass dude and here he does it 100% well & does many fucked up things to prove it. Claudio had always got into his bad guy roles and what a natural he was at it! Jorge Ortin as well naturally plays an evil-motherfucker and one who takes pleasure in beating & killing people. He’s also in the peculiar “erotic” scenes of the movie, which makes it even more hilarious. At least to me that is. 

Mujeres De La Calle: Prostitucion y SIDA is neither an epic nor a bad movie, but it is quite enjoyable for what it is. It is a rude, cheap & trashy melodrama that can be enjoyed whenever. That opening credits song will haunt you though. Haunt you in cringe that is. 

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Powder of Light.

It is a story of mortality in the styles of Ingmar Bergman or Andre Tarkovsky. Something like that, I guess. 

An intellectually-minded filmmaker struck with an incurable illness decides to spend his last days at a secluded mansion that has belonged to his family for a very long time. His artist wife is to accompany him there and also be a part of the film he’s making which will mostly consist of his surroundings and ultimately his demise as well. As the days go by, the filmmaker & his wife discuss life & death, have sex, and his wife becomes pregnant just right around the same time he is to die. 

Polvo De Luz ("Powder of Light" ) is a movie that many have longed to see since its availability is very scarce. I was one of those longing to see it since late director Christian Gonzalez told me how hard it was to come by along with his first movie "Thanatos" (I’m convinced this one for sure never got a release on video). Several years back I came across the trailer to Polvo De Luz and it was my first glimpse of the movie and my interest for it peeked even higher. Finally after all this time, I acquired a copy of it quite easily and as soon as I got it, I watched it all the way through in excitement & curiosity. I honestly didn’t know what to expect from Polvo De Luz because I knew this was "not exactly" a "Christian Gonzalez movie". If you’re a fan of Christian's work, then you’ll know how that whenever he had complete control of a production in all or most aspects, then it was going to be a unique & wild movie. Polvo De Luz is one of those movies Christian had only one job at doing and it was solely directing. This was not "his" movie per se. This felt & looked completely different from anything else he has made.

When asked about directing Polvo De Luz in a 2004 interview with Revista Cinefagia (a must read), Christian said he simply took on the job in order to please the crowd from his alma mater CUEC after his first movie Thanatos was critiqued in the most irritable ways. He also felt he didn’t write the script for Thanatos correctly and for this next project that would be Polvo De Luzhe would direct it only while a “prestigious” screenwriter Xavier Robles handled the script. Christian wanted acceptance by the snobby crowd at CUEC and the only way to do so is by making a movie that was presented as "prestigious", "artistic" & "different".

So is Polvo De Luz a prestigious, artistic & different kind of movie that would please a certain type of snobby film crowd? I will say yes because this certain crowd can appreciate and “understand” its theme of life & death. Another crowd can see its obvious attempt at trying to be "different" and be rather amused by the irony of it all—the irony being Christian Gonzalez not being this type of filmmaker. What type of filmmaker? A "prestigious" one. A try hard at that.

Polvo De Luz is strictly drama, so there's a lot of scenes of our 2 sole characters talking in & out of the mansion and the talking mostly consists of every day life, their mortalities and the filmmaker reminiscing over everything from the past. The only time the movie ever feels conflicting is when the filmmaker gets pains from his illness and when he assaults his own wife after a peculiar rendezvous in the woods. Leading actor Alejandro Camacho portrays the filmmaker fairly well, but it seems he always plays this type of character—a conflicting man in love & in lust. Leading lady Rebecca Jones plays her character fairly well too and for me it seems her character was awaiting for her husband to die. She cares, but awaits for a new life from him and I say this because she already has an idea of what to do after he dies and she never mentions anything about being with their baby either. After the filmmaker passes away, Ernesto Yáñez’s character “the boatman” hands her an apple, her sad frown then turns into a smile and bites it. Something about an apple in Polvo De Luz is symbolizing, but I can't figure out what the hell it meant. 

For what it was, or trying to bePolvo De Luz is an intriguing little watch. It is indeed a movie that tried to be something so prestigious & artsy, then became lost & forgotten over time while other movies just like it got more attention & "fame". Christian Gonzalez of course didn't really look back at Polvo De Luz and he was whatever with it. It was a thing of the past and he went on to do what he wanted to do and make the movies he wanted to make. Polvo De Luz was simply just an exercise in filmmaking.