Of the numerous new filmmakers to emerge from Mexico at the turn of the century, none excite me more than Amat Escalante. He’s a filmmaker with a distinct and unfussy sensibility. He fixates on details with a clinical coolness yet is capable of moments of profound intimacy. There’s an underlying warmth centered through the three Escalante films I’ve encountered, where the ephemeral qualities of their humanism are laid to waste by the hostile milieu in which they take place. Overshadowed by his Mexican compatriots Carlos Reygadas and Michel Franco, Escalante’s formal interests remain vested in the social realities of his characters. The grandiose existential inquiries of Reygadas and complex emotional tableaus of Franco inform but do not drive Escalante’s ambitions. Rather, his work stems from the private and public concerns of living day in and day out as a citizen of Mexico.Read More
As critics’ circles announce their superlatives of the year, I’m perturbed by the lack of Mexican cinema cited. Not to dismiss the usual suspects in this category, as pictures like Blue is the Warmest Color and A Hijacking have had a strong and deserving presence on the circuit, but it’s a bit disheartening to see so few nods toward a country on the banks of a creative renaissance.
Unfortunately, I’m guilty of failing to highlight the numerous films coming out of this creative period. So before I lambast the critical community entirely, I reckon I should, ya know, talk about these films. Three major works from three varied Mexican auteurs have either screened in a festival capacity or are available for streaming on Netflix. So if the prospect of enduring below-freezing temperature sounds unappealing (and in Chicago, the blustery wind makes the strong case for seasonal hibernation), the opportunity to view some new and exciting cinema within the comfort of your living room ought to sound reasonable enough.Read More