Chilean Cinema 2014 #5 and #6: ‘Ocaso’ (2010) and ‘La Mirada Perdida en la Niebla’ (2010)

‘Ocaso’ (Sunset, 2010, Theo Court)


(Chile 2010 80m) Sala Radicales

p Patricio Bustamante, Oscar Bustamante, Laura Amelia Guzmán, Théo Court, Israel Cárdenas d/w Thèo Court c Mauro Herce ed Manuel Muñoz

a Rafael Vázquez, Álvaro Bustamante, Nano Vázquez

The Lost Look in the Fog

(Chile 2010 90m) Cineteca Nacional

p Luis Valero Campos, Gabriela Muñoz d/w/c Patricio González Colville s Arctaña

This is a translation and expansion of a review written in spanish by me for the great blog El Agente Cine, which you can read in its original version here.

Fog. Trees and weeds, dissolved, gray, without borders, transmuted by the white substance that fills the cold day in the south of Chile. A little figure, tired, downbeat, goes across the plain, the shot, first in a perpendicular way and then horizontally. A patron house, filled with fog that already seems old because of getting the old ambiences of the abandoned house, the man crosses the shot again, barely distinguishing himself between the milky cloudy substance streams. Old colonial rituals are being realized by an old butler of raid vestiments, a jacket and some pants of undistinguishable colours, he does actions in dead places, recollects water in a dirty plastic bottle, makes a fire in the middle of a destroyed barn, as if he wanted to occupy those dead spaces, being himself a bit of a dead man alive, feeling at home while everything decays.

That is, more or less, almost all of the interesting images that can be found in this 2010 movie that just now is getting a release in Chilean theaters, the movie ‘Ocaso’ (2010) has these, but the rest of them are so classic (for the lack of a better name… oh, yes, repeated) in the new Latinamerican cinema, that simply with mentioning the things that happen to imagine the framing and teh lighting used in the scenes: in this movie we can see how a house is taken down, an old patron house. Chiaroscuro, dust, lights that illuminate places that were dark before, silouettes formed by dirty windows, whispers and a lot of silence.

The film is obvious in its deconstruction of a glorious past that may want to be criticized (or not, the few sequences of dialogue give a leaway into thinking that the patron structure was maybe the best way for some of these workers to live), due to the way too used metaphor of destruction  or dissaparition of the place for it to be replaced with ‘the new’, that in this film is a darker element and that would’ve made the film a bit heavier, as it seems that from one moment to the next a group of people start destroying and taking the stuff while the old butler looks and searchs for his boss in search of a silent aprooval.

The contemplation of the shots, their length, the playfulness of the cinematography and how two characters become close as the world seems to rumble around them, it reminds me of the last movie of the Hungarian director Béla Tarr, ‘The Turin Horse’ (2011), but they are in entirely different levels in regards of their register, given that the length of the shots in the Chilean film barely serves of something else than a bit more of exploration and more like a way to pan out the total length of the film, while in the Hungarian film, the way in which the film cuts itself because of the length of the shot, it gives place for a metaphor as the end of cinema gives away the end of the world in which the characters live, the world turns dark, just in the same moment as the lights in the cinema go up.

The most interesting moments that can give the film some value would come from the dialogue exchange between the butler and the boss, and finally between the butler and who may seem to be his own son, whom he hasn’t seen in a long time. These dialogues serve as some kind of common thematic ground, some kind of tranquility, a voice that goes beyond the white noise that comes from the destruction of the house, the dialogues themselves aren’t exactly great, but the way in which they are recorded and treated they say something about what the movie is about, and that is something to be thankful about when one is in an undistinguishable mishmash of grays and blacks, where everything seems to be the same, and the contemplation and the silence aren’t enough to give it ais of cinematic profoundness.

As contrast, the other Chilean premiere the same week ‘Ocaso’ (2010) opened, was the documentary ‘La Mirada Perdida en la Niebla’ (2010), suffers of a similar thing, but in reverse: when the silences are made and the editing of the found footage of the past of the great city of Constitución, it achieves some kind of profound and emotional depth that can’t be found in the rest of the film when it resolves everything with interviews that are way too technical and informative (something more akin to a History Channel special) and some sort of fictionalization of the process of the realization of the documentary, where there are created and repeated dialogues by non-actors to give some sense of naturalism in the search of the director, that give place to the most uncomfortable moments seen in a documentary in a long time.

Then, it’s not about an inhability about doing silences and long takes, but about the utility of them; it’s not about writing great dialogue, but about its delivery and characterization of them. Both are far from being perfect films, but at least ‘Ocaso’ (2010) manages to give something of interest in its foggy and visual aspect, as well as in its short and scarce dialogue scenes, those who give way for the director’s point of view to shine. On the other hand, ‘La Mirada Perdida en la Niebla’ (2010) is just a shameful exercise of masturbatory indulgence that barely makes it worth seeing.

6/10 (Ocaso)

5/10 (La Mirada Perdida en la Niebla)

‘La Mirada Perdida en la Niebla’ (The Lost Look in the Fog, 2010, Patricio González Colville)


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