Movie Diary 6/22/2022

Last week I was on the FIPRESCI jury at the Guadalajara Film Festival, a true life experience for which I am grateful. Here’s a list of the movies, all Mexican, the jury watched, with the winner listed first.

Coraje (Courage, Ruben Rojo Aura, 2022). We gave the award to this study of an actress, now losing her sight, in rehearsals for Mother Courage; her 50-something alcoholic son moves into her apartment in what we assume is a periodic attempt at re-setting his fumbled life.

El reino de Dios (The Realm of God, Claudia Sainte-Luce, 2022). This film won some festival awards, too, including a Best Actor prize for its young protagonist, a boy at loose ends in the countryside.

Goya (Pablo Orta, 2022). Two brothers have a series of misadventures after determining to save a dog that’s been abandoned by a neighbor. Am I wrong, or is there a mild parody of the opening of Roma at the beginning of this film?

Guadardo, Hermano (Brother, Kept, Jorge Ivan Sanders-Ortega, 2021). Another film about brothers, one disabled, in a small town where a cartoonishly weird doctor holds sway.

Celeste Soledad (Alex Arguelles, 2021). Two sisters this time, completely mismatched, thrown together after a family disaster. The film steers wildly through different modes, from naturalistic family comedy to giallo.

Cuando cae la noche (When the Night Falls, J. Daniel Zuniga, 2022). Observational documentary peering into the lives of three lonely men, each involved in his daily rounds.

Lejos de casa (Far from Home, Carlos Hernandez Vazquez, 2022). The children who wait in asylum shelters in Tijuana, separated from family and uncertain of the future – also a documentary, as are the next two.

Mama (Xun Sero, 2022). A portrait of the filmmaker’s mother, including the story of his own origins – a troubling and frank account of the place of women in certain pockets of society.

Plegaria (Roberto Olivares, 2022). In a small town, a man takes over the job of being the purveyor of various mystical/supernatural rites – prayers, blessings, card-readings, etc. Looming over this is a political threat to the position: His predecessor was murdered.