743 La ciénaga

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Re: 743 La ciénaga

#26 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Jun 06, 2016 1:00 pm

domino harvey wrote:I found it interesting that the children in the film tell a variation of the well-known American Urban Legend "the Mexican Pet," only in this environ it's become a story about an "African dog rat." Though the function of the story remains the same-- xenophobia allows audiences to believe giant rats could be wandering around to be mistaken for dogs in a country perceived to be dangerously exotic / filthy etc.

If you aren't familiar with the original urban legend, this is probably one of the most well-known versions given its inclusion in the popular books of folklore compiled by Alvin Schwartz
Its also interesting in that its a cautionary tale used to suggest that you shouldn't go somewhere because you'll be naive to the dangers that abound in an unfamiliar environment. Far better to stay at home by the pool or even better in bed! We can perhaps see the same kinds of implied threats in other parts of the film such as taking an impulsive plunge into the pool, the kids up in the woods, and especially the apparently 'dangerous' trip to Bolivia for school supplies getting undercut by the husband's actions.

Its perhaps ironic that the final tragedy occurs in the safety of the back yard by someone trying to explore the boundaries of their world. Maybe it makes a nice pairing with the fruitless trip to the water tower too - maybe its better to live as long as you can with the comforting myths than destructively uncovering the 'truth'!

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Re: 743 La ciénaga

#27 Post by leo_floyd » Sat Oct 15, 2016 11:18 pm

So, yesterday Miss Martel came to my province to give a Master Class on screenwriting/directing and later she presented a new festival that's going to start next year.
colinr0380 wrote:Spoilers:I find it a slightly difficult film to judge as it is full of almost too on-the-nose foreshadowings of events to come or obviously dysfunctional relationships that are being worried at like a rotten tooth, and that can make the film seem contrived and perhaps schematic in manipulating its characters (and the audience) into inescapable situations.
You couldn't be more right. You know, she told us how much she disliked metaphors and symbolisms on her films and how she tried to avoid them. Speaking specifically of La Cienaga she told us an anecdote about the time when she was presenting the film in a festival in South Korea and how people there thought the movie was rich in symbolisms (like the cow in the mud scene as a metaphor for the country's situation in those years or the scene where the doctor gets into the pool as a metaphor to "purify himself", etc.) and how "embarrased" she felt, because she had to explain them that wasn't her intention at all.

Some pictures from the events, :D

Master Class: https://scontent.fgig1-4.fna.fbcdn.net/ ... e=585F7857" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Presenting the festival: https://scontent.fgig1-4.fna.fbcdn.net/ ... e=586512F7" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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La Ciénaga (Lucrecia Martel, 2000)

#28 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon May 28, 2018 6:28 am


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Re: La Ciénaga (Lucrecia Martel, 2000)

#29 Post by DarkImbecile » Mon Jun 04, 2018 5:10 pm

Before this Film Club selection, I'd only ever seen Martel's films once at the time of their release, so it was really fascinating to watch this again so soon after having seen Zama in theaters. I think this is one of those 'frog in a pot of boiling water' situations, but Zama didn't strike me at the time as a huge departure in visual style from La Ciénaga because I'd been acclimating to that more refined style as it developed film by film, and seeing her debut feature again in all of its shakier, more handheld glory made it inescapably obvious how much ground she's covered in reaching the much more formally rigorous and carefully composed imagery in her most recent work.

One thing that hasn't changed much is the unavoidable significance of the sound design in Martel's films. La Ciénaga is roiling with noise, from thunder to traffic to animals and children braying to echoing gunshots and incessantly ringing phones - a cacophony which makes the silence during and after Lucio's death all the more striking. One of the Criterion release's extras features Martel explaining how she installed a very specifically textured tile for the poolside area to make just the right grating clatter as the deck chairs are dragged across it when the herd of intoxicated adults decide a location shift is in order, so it doesn't seem out of line to say that in this first work she perhaps pays more attention to the sound of her film than its images, as striking as many of them are.

Another element that carries over throughout Martel's work is the constant sense of danger or impending injury, which feels more explicit in this film than the others: a scene that made me physically tense up even knowing no one was going to be hurt, the moment in the river with teens hacking wildly with machetes while others point and float right next them also made me want to yell "Be careful, goddamn it!" at the screen like an old lady hectoring kids playing near the street. One spends the whole film (which is book-ended by accidents) waiting for disaster - whether while a kid casually holds a shotgun with the barrel pointed at his friend's face or when a teenager without a license drives in reverse in the rain - only for it ultimately to be the parents who spend the whole film anxious about their kids' safety at Mecha's decrepit estate who suffer a loss in their own home, because of a risk they foresaw and actively tried to prevent. I'm still not entirely sure how to take that turn of events, because it seems such a pointed and precise irony that it must be part of Martel's social critique, but it also feels as if the film is not nearly so critical of Tali and her family as it is Mecha and her household. These aren't entirely dissonant observations, but enough so to me that I'm still not sure what the intent was there.

Probably my favorite element that stood out on this viewing was Momi's halting, pathetic objectification of Isabel, the house servant who also suffers under a different sort of attention from Mecha, who can't resist insulting and accusing her even as Isabel helps her into a car to go to the hospital. The contrast between the mother and daughter's representation of different sides of the same coin of classism and racism stood out, especially given the disdain that Momi and Mecha clearly have for each other; to Isabel, they're just different limbs on the same nattering, pleading, needy, hostile creature, or maybe the different rows of teeth in the mouth of the proverbial African rat-dog that devours the other household pets.

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Re: La Ciénaga (Lucrecia Martel, 2000)

#30 Post by nitin » Tue Jun 05, 2018 4:41 am

I saw this on Friday night (without realising it was a film club choice) and I didn’t necessarily think that Martel criticised Tali and her husband’s superficial but otherwise non existent parenting less than Mecha and her husband’s, but just criticised them differently. Which she had to do because the class aspect plays a role in how to practically go about the parenting to some extent. Mecha and her husband are (or at least were) well off and could afford more full time help and that I think had some impact (along with their narcissism and alcoholism) on how much parenting they thought they needed to do. Tali and her husband appeared to have one (possibly part time) maid and were definitely more involved with their children but also nevertheless still quite occupied with their own thoughts and unbreakable cycle (Tali’s expected subservience to her husband and her husband’s need to dedicate much of his time to being the breadwinner).

In a way I saw the two sets of parents as being two sides of the same coin, a theme also reflected in other aspects as you not re a Momi and her mother’s attutude towards Isabel.

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Re: La Ciénaga (Lucrecia Martel, 2000)

#31 Post by colinr0380 » Fri Jun 08, 2018 2:20 pm

There is also the other couple of the film of José and Mercedes. José is kind of the incestuous bridging character between the older teens and the adults (and takes after his mother Mecha by spending perhaps more time in bed than she does!), whilst Mercedes is seemingly the same generation as Mecha and Tali (and is heavily implied to have had an affair with Mecha's flake of a husband), only more urban and entrepreneurial, never going to Mecha's place and only appearing in the bookends with José back in Buenos Aires.

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