Chilean Cinema 2014 #13: ‘Crystal Fairy and the Magical Cactus and 2012’ (2013)

(Chile 2013 98m) Netflix

Andrea Carrasco Stuven, Juan Ignacio Correa, Ricardo González, Mariane Hartard, Juan de Dios Larraín, Pablo Larraín, Florencia Larrea, Sebastián Silva, Cristóbal Sotomayor, Sofía Subercaseaux d/w Sebastián Silva c Cristián Petit-Laurent ed Diego Macho, Sebastián Silva, Sofía Subercaseaux s Pedro Piedra

a Michael Cera, Gaby Hoffman, Juan Andrés Silva, Agustín Silva, José Miguel Silva, Mariana Nicolich Aristich, Gracia Ariztia, Manuela Baldovino, Gary Boyd, Natalie California California, Esteban Carreño, Nancy Castillo, María Eugenia Cortez, Garciela González Cruz, Gepe, Mark Grattan, Joanan Andrea Nicolich Harixtich, Juan Carlos Lara II, Kasandra California Mamani, Marinés Muñoz, Margarita Maria Nicolich, María Isabel Pontigo Nicolich, Violeta Nicolich Nicolich, Gina Nicolich Pérez, Angélica María Flores Pontigo, Carlos Rojas, Rosa Vega Rojas, Sebastián Silva, Sol Squire

Sebastián Silva has managed to become some sort of a household name when it comes to Chilean films, specially because he has managed to get international distribution and has always won awards in the Sundance Film Festival with every movie that he has presented there, starting with ‘La nana’ (2009). In 2013 he premiered two films that in a a way could resume the results of his success outside of Chile, as they both star the famous actor Michael Cera. They were ‘Magic Magic’ (2013) and this movie that we are reviewing today, and even if the first film was the most important, it was the one that got the less attention and practically no awards whatsoever, it even managed to get a DVD only release in the United States, while here in Chile we had to watch it on HBO this february and since. I don’t think I’ll have the chance to review ‘Magic Magic’ (2013) but my opinion has been known for quite some time, I think that it’s a xenophobic picture that doesn’t manage to tell anything interesting about any of the subject matters that it brings up, yet for some reason it sports some of the best performances made in that year. Something different could be said about ‘Crystal Fairy’ (2013), that was filmed as some sort of side project, in the two weeks of suspended shooting of the main feature in the south of Chile.

So, Silva, his brothers, and Cera, as well as Gaby Hoffman, decide to go to the north of Chile, to improvise a movie about a dude that came to Chile only to experience drugs, and in particular one that comes from a cactus of the desert of Chile. In the way they meet a girl who calls herself Crystal Fairy, she’s obviously connected to nature and to some sort of higher ground consciousness, all while everyone tries to understand anything that she says or the way that she looks, el Gringo (as Cera’s character is constantly called) is steadily obsessing more and more with the concept of the cactii drug, leaving behind anything resembling a nice face or even morals when it comes to the obtention of that precious vegetable. The film is well performed, and while you can’t compare the performances here with the dramatic near masterpieces in ‘Magic Magic’ (2013), all of the performers manage to get one or two smiles from the viewer in this little stoner comedy of sorts. This movie had a release on theaters in the United States last year, and this year it has one in Chile, managing to close the circle and ciment Silva as one of the important filmmakers of Chile.

Some critics have decided that they want to see more in this film other than an exercise of pure freedom and hang outs. Some have said that it’s a classist picture, going miles to proove that the entire cinema of Silva is eskewed towards one particular economic position, but while that may be true, that doesn’t mean that everything is infected. The film is a triffle, a joke, and for what it is, it manages to be entertaining with all its little set pieces, like the fight with the gypsies, the theft of the cactus, and the whole drugged experience that fills the last twenty minutes of the movie. It might not be a great movie, but it’s a good movie that manages to be better than a planned and more financed effort. Here’s an elegy to the movies made on the run, films that surprise and can make you feel wonders. It’s a film that you have to make to fully enjoy, and I could enjoy it because I could sense that they had a great time making it.

8/10

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