940 The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez

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swo17
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940 The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez

#1 Post by swo17 » Tue May 15, 2018 4:22 pm

The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez

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Forced to run from the Texas Rangers after a heated misunderstanding leads to the death of a lawman, Mexican American farmer Gregorio Cortez sets off in desperate flight, evading a massive manhunt on horseback for days. Producer-star Edward James Olmos, seeking to shed new light on a historical incident that had been enshrined in a corrido (folk song), enlisted director Robert M. Young, a longtime practitioner of socially engaged realism, to helm this trailblazing independent film, a landmark of Chicano cinema. Shifting its perspective between the pursuers and the pursued, The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez is a thrilling chase film and a nuanced procedural that peels away the layers of prejudice and myth surrounding Cortez, uncovering the true story of an ordinary man persecuted by the law and transfigured by legend.

SPECIAL FEATURES

• New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• New interview with actor and producer Edward James Olmos
• New interview with Chon A. Noriega, author of Shot in America: Television, the State, and the Rise of Chicano Cinema
• Cast-and-crew panel from 2016 including Olmos; director Robert M. Young; producer Moctesuma Esparza; cinematographer Reynaldo Villalobos; and actors Bruce McGill, Tom Bower, Rosana DeSoto, and Pepe Serna
• PLUS: An essay by film scholar Charles Ramírez Berg

TheRanchHand
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Re: 940 The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez

#2 Post by TheRanchHand » Tue May 15, 2018 5:28 pm

Never seen or heard of this film but being a western, I'll certainly preview it on Film Struck and maybe pick up the release later.

Apperson
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Re: 940 The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez

#3 Post by Apperson » Tue May 15, 2018 6:16 pm

Well it only has 88 votes and 50% of those are from users over the age of 45, so I'd be surprised if anyone here has heard of this film.

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swo17
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Re: 940 The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez

#4 Post by swo17 » Tue May 15, 2018 6:23 pm

All I know is it's the same guy that made ¡Alambrista!

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Big Ben
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Re: 940 The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez

#5 Post by Big Ben » Tue May 15, 2018 6:27 pm

swo17 wrote:All I know is it's the same guy that made ¡Alambrista!
You blaspheme.

Anyway I'm glad to see a lesser film like this get a release. I love Westerns and this sounds like something I'll enjoy. Olmos was really passionate about it and I hope it shows.

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bearcuborg
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Re: 940 The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez

#6 Post by bearcuborg » Tue May 15, 2018 6:45 pm

Apperson wrote:Well it only has 88 votes and 50% of those are from users over the age of 45, so I'd be surprised if anyone here has heard of this film.
I’ve seen it, and may have it on VHS somewhere. I’m a half Mexican and Jewish kid from the Southside of Chicago-so that may be part of the reason I know of it...They showed it a lot of Spanish classes in the 90s, plus my grandfather was a big western junkie. I feel like this was a two pack VHS with Quiggly Down Under for his birthday or something.

I can’t say I really expected this film to get such loving treatment. Certainly relevant in today’s political climate. If anyone goes off on a Olmos kick, the TV movie adaptation of Dead Man’s Walk from Larry McMurtry would make a wonderful companion viewing.

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domino harvey
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Re: 940 The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez

#7 Post by domino harvey » Tue May 15, 2018 9:16 pm

The soundtrack in the clip on Criterion's site is, uh, very 80s. Never heard of this, but I think I'll pass all the same based on available evidence

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swo17
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Re: 940 The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez

#8 Post by swo17 » Tue May 15, 2018 9:36 pm

Hey, arpeggios belong to every decade

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bearcuborg
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Re: 940 The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez

#9 Post by bearcuborg » Tue May 15, 2018 10:09 pm

As I said, I can’t imagine I ever thought this would be in the collection, or that I’ve thought about it since the 90s. But it’s a pretty nice woodcut technique on the cover.

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domino harvey
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Re: 940 The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez

#10 Post by domino harvey » Tue May 15, 2018 10:34 pm

In case anyone was on the fence
Richard--W wrote: Wonderful news.
I love this film.

I saw The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez at Cinema 21 in San Diego CA when it was first released and was so knocked out by it I went back to watch it three times.

Superior cinema on every level, and incidentally, one of the greatest westerns ever made.
It's The Grapes of Wrath of westerns.
Definitely never seeing this now

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colinr0380
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Re: 940 The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez

#11 Post by colinr0380 » Wed May 16, 2018 12:41 pm

Sounds intriguing! I think I can cope with the electronic score. It seems very much of that era, and I do wonder whether the Vangelis score for Chariots of Fire had any influence? After all that was used just as incongruously/anachronistically there and became celebrated.

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Gregory
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Re: 940 The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez

#12 Post by Gregory » Wed May 16, 2018 1:48 pm

I enjoy the fact that the composer scored this film in between doing the scores for Enter the Ninja (’81) and Revenge of the Ninja (’83).

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Re: 940 The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez

#13 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Wed May 16, 2018 7:53 pm

I didn't realize Olmos was a musician, as he had a hand in doing the score too. Interesting (mildly so) that Jon Brion is in this too, and this came out the same year as Blade Runner.

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Roger Ryan
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Re: 940 The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez

#14 Post by Roger Ryan » Thu May 17, 2018 10:12 am

flyonthewall2983 wrote:I didn't realize Olmos was a musician, as he had a hand in doing the score too. Interesting (mildly so) that Jon Brion is in this too, and this came out the same year as Blade Runner.
I think you mean Brion James. Since the last few posts were about the score, I momentarily thought that an 18-year-old Jon Brion had managed to contribute to the music!

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Re: 940 The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez

#15 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Thu May 17, 2018 10:22 am

Getting my BJ's confused it seems.

Apperson
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Re: 940 The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez

#16 Post by Apperson » Tue Jul 24, 2018 10:42 am


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ando
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Re: 940 The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez

#17 Post by ando » Mon Nov 19, 2018 8:53 am

Thank goodness Criterion picked this up. I can see how this would play far better in a theater as Olmos said. But it's fairly unforgettable and, as bearcuborg stated, apropos to the current political climate. I like the nod to Rashomon in terms of narrative technique though it goes further in terms of visual repetition: Young literally attempts a film equivalent of a ballad. I'm not sure if High Noon is on this level.

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371229
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Re: 940 The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez

#18 Post by 371229 » Wed Nov 21, 2018 4:27 pm

I too am glad Criterion picked up this forgotten gem. The only thing that doesn't hold up well is the electronic score (which was popular in movies of this time). Fortunately the electronic score is limited in parts and doesn't flow during the entire movie. On a humorous note, whenever the electronic score was playing... I kept expecting to see some runners from "Chariots of Fire" running somewhere across the desert landscape.

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FrauBlucher
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Re: 940 The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez

#19 Post by FrauBlucher » Wed Nov 21, 2018 6:14 pm

Just a curious question... What are your thoughts on the spanish language dialogue scenes without subtitles and how many of those scenes are there?

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371229
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Re: 940 The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez

#20 Post by 371229 » Wed Nov 21, 2018 10:41 pm

There are a few... but I understand a little Spanish... and that which I didn't understand, I could figure out what was basically being said based on what was going on.

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ando
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Re: 940 The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez

#21 Post by ando » Thu Nov 22, 2018 1:52 am

FrauBlucher wrote:
Wed Nov 21, 2018 6:14 pm
Just a curious question... What are your thoughts on the spanish language dialogue scenes without subtitles and how many of those scenes are there?
Well, part of the point in not subtitling the Spanish language scenes was to put the viewer, particularly those who are not fluent in Spanish, in the mental framework of the sheriff and his cohorts who confronted Cortez and his brother, misconstrued their responses and reacted violently. In fact, the consequences of acting on misinformation throughout the film, not only from that initial confrontation but from the ensuing versions of what happened to the courtroom trial is part of what the filmmakers attempted to convey.

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ando
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Re: 940 The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez

#22 Post by ando » Thu Nov 22, 2018 2:03 am

371229 wrote:
Wed Nov 21, 2018 4:27 pm
I too am glad Criterion picked up this forgotten gem. The only thing that doesn't hold up well is the electronic score (which was popular in movies of this time). Fortunately the electronic score is limited in parts and doesn't flow during the entire movie. On a humorous note, whenever the electronic score was playing... I kept expecting to see some runners from "Chariots of Fire" running somewhere across the desert landscape.
Initially, I had that same reaction to the very 80s sounding soundtrack. But once I got into the film it began to grow on me and even enhanced parts of the story - in much the same way as Midnight Express did. It also has very distinct synth score to support a similar sort of nightmare journey into the heart of a legal system skewed against the main protagonist.

Perhaps the implication is a bit pat but you can't deny that both films place the central character in the position of the underdog. I mean, it ain't The Ballad of the Texas Rangers.

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Re: 940 The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez

#23 Post by FrauBlucher » Thu Nov 22, 2018 10:09 am

Thanks Ando, I’m familiar with why they left out the subtitles. Just want to know how you as a viewer felt not knowing what was being said.

It reminds me of some of those American war films that had Japanese military with dialogue but no subtitles. That always frustrated me and thought the filmmakers were lazy.

I know the intent here is different.

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ando
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Re: 940 The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez

#24 Post by ando » Thu Nov 22, 2018 12:00 pm

FrauBlucher wrote:
Thu Nov 22, 2018 10:09 am
Thanks Ando, I’m familiar with why they left out the subtitles. Just want to know how you as a viewer felt not knowing what was being said.

It reminds me of some of those American war films that had Japanese military with dialogue but no subtitles. That always frustrated me and thought the filmmakers were lazy.

I know the intent here is different.
Ah. Well, I understand basic Spanish. But I didn't know a caballo from a yegua before I watched this film. I'd bet that most Americans aren't aware of the difference (in terms of the language) as well. But that's an (probably incorrect) assumption. Living in a city like New York where you hear all kinds of languages all the time you look out for other signals of intention (body language, tone of speech, situation, etc.) before you respond - if you do at all. Given the current climate of general paranoia and suspicion now I'd say the rest of the country is moving in that direction despite reading tragic knee-jerk reactions between people of presumed differences every day.

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Re: 940 The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez

#25 Post by FrauBlucher » Thu Nov 22, 2018 12:45 pm

When I pick up the Ambersons Tuesday I'm going to blind buy this. The reviews have been pretty positive.

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