Zama (Lucrecia Martel, 2018)

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serifmehmet
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Zama (Lucrecia Martel, 2018)

#1 Post by serifmehmet » Sun Aug 27, 2017 3:52 am


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colinr0380
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Re: Trailers for Upcoming Films

#2 Post by colinr0380 » Sun Aug 27, 2017 6:47 am

That looks very interesting. I'm not familiar with the source material so it has only just struck me that it feels as if this could be in the same territory of Aguirre, Wrath of God, or the 1988 Calos Saura El Dorado! It looks as if that kind of historical setting will be fruitful territory for Martel's intermingling racial-class-gender tensions themes, and I'm loving the soundscape created just for that trailer!

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AidanKing
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Re: Festival Circuit 2017

#3 Post by AidanKing » Thu Aug 31, 2017 4:38 am

Lucrecia Martel's Zama has been very well received by The Guardian. It sounds as if it may become known as the film with the llama in the same way Le Quattro Volte was described as the film with the goats.

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DarkImbecile
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Re: The Films of 2018

#4 Post by DarkImbecile » Fri May 11, 2018 6:11 pm

That off-kilter feeling when you're trapped in one of those intense anxiety dreams in which you struggle against seemingly endless obstacles - from the banal to the absurd to the extreme - to achieve a relatively simple objective, and the queasy uneasiness keeps sliding sideways right up to the border of full-fledged nightmare territory? Lucretia Martel's Zama is that feeling committed to film.

Most of this sensation stems from Martel's elliptical and idiosyncratic capturing of the various contradictions inherent in the messy colonial insertion of a bureaucracy, ideology, and economy into an unwelcoming and often incompatible culture and geography; like an attempt to recreate a famous photograph by carving it onto a tree trunk with the point of a shovel, one might do well enough that you can make out the echoes of something familiar, but the compromises and corruptions of the original will always be the second version's most notable features. Colonialism's inherent flaws and failings are constantly on display in ways both direct and subtle, as in the ridiculousness of giving an ornate canopy bed to a native woman who lives in an open hut near the riverside, or the pursuit of narrow-minded and short-sighted interests and goals by the various governors who cycle through the film.

Martel's images are often captivating - especially in the film's final third as the location photography grows more stunning and the plot developments grow increasingly surreal and threatening - and the wry humor hits largely the right tone throughout. The film does sag a bit in the second act (though I'm near certain that having a better sense of the film as a whole would make this less of an issue on repeat viewings), and the disorientation and alienation - Martel's signature as much as anything - that are so ably leveraged here also made me almost reflexively distanced from Zama in a way that blunted some of its impact in certain scenes.

Becoming steadily more unmoored from his foundations the longer he fails to extricate himself from this environment is Don Diego de Zama, who from the film's opening moments is constantly denied anything he might desire (a transfer, a lover, a way out) and given 'gifts' he doesn't want and can't fully reject or escape (a troublesome book, a bastard). Daniel Gimenez Cacho's lead performance is well-tuned to the character - passive when he should be decisive, aggressive when he should show restraint, all while beset with an increasing sense of both exasperation and resignation. Central to nearly every frame of the film, Gimenez Cacho does solid work in balancing the unlikable aspects of his character with the relatable and fairly straightforward goals he's trying to achieve and his constant bemusement at the results.

This ends up as a film I respect more than enjoy, but the more I reflect on it the more it improves, especially the craft elements that went into photographing and editing some key scenes in the last half-hour.

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DarkImbecile
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Re: Zama (Lucrecia Martel, 2018)

#5 Post by DarkImbecile » Fri May 11, 2018 6:50 pm

Whoops! I thought I had saved that as a draft, not posted it! I suppose it’s appropriate that my thoughts on this movie are somewhat disconnected and not quite cohesive, but hopefully the point is in there somewhere.

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All the Best People
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Re: Zama (Lucrecia Martel, 2018)

#6 Post by All the Best People » Sat May 12, 2018 7:23 pm

Caught up with this last week. The only other Martel film I'd seen was La Cienaga, which I was with for twenty minutes before it just kept repeating itself and ended horribly. This was much better, though I'm not sure I totally embraced it. The atmosphere -- sound design in particular was strong -- and that's the biggest thing it has going for it, as the "colonists as buffoonish bullies slowly going crazy" thing isn't exactly fresh on our screens. Many striking images and sequences, however. We'll see how it sits and dwells with me in the months to come. Certainly worth seeing on the big screen, due to its beauty, mood, and audioscapes.

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DarkImbecile
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Re: Zama (Lucrecia Martel, 2018)

#7 Post by DarkImbecile » Wed May 23, 2018 12:14 am

A Film Comment podcast on Zama, including the award-winning translator of the source novel providing some insight into Martel's interpretations of and deviations from Antonio di Benedetto's work and the influence of Kafka.

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Re: Zama (Lucrecia Martel, 2018)

#8 Post by razumovsky » Wed May 23, 2018 3:46 pm

I saw this last night, followed by a Q and A with Lucrecia Martel herself. She has a nice line in dry humour, which had the Spanish-speakers behind me in stitches - waiting for the translation probably diluted the impact somewhat.

One thing she said that seems apposite to some of the comments above, about the film's dream-like quality, is that she is very relaxed with the idea of people falling asleep during it. She said that she has seen Bergman's Silence, one of her favourite films, a hundred times, and has fallen asleep each time! I suspect she was being slightly mischievious, but all the same she said that a film is still working on us when we are not fully conscious, not least through its sound.

Feels only fair to add that I did not fall asleep during the screening, and once I had adjusted to its walking pace, I was absorbed. I found myself thinking about Lisandro Alonso's Jauja, which it recalled, but perhaps only superficially.

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