by Jaime Grijalba.
Welcome, welcome, welcome. Another year has gone by and I completely forgot that I used to make these lists practically around the 3rd or 4th day of the new year! I am completely oblivious to the things that I do nowadays, so, as I want this blog to have some life, I have decided that it’s not late enough to mention my favorite Chilean films of 2014.
As always, I divided this list in two parts, first the theatrical releases of Chilean films in Chilean theaters during the 365 days of 2014, and the second being the ‘pure’ list of 2014, being festival or even theatrical releases of the best films made in Chile that were released in some form during 2014 and not earlier. Hey, you get what I’m saying! No need to really explain! Whatever!
I won’t include lengthy capsule reviews, because that’s for my top films of 2014 list, but I’ll provide links to reviews if available or short capsules if needed. I’ve reviewed most of these in various outlets like Twitchfilm.com and other places, even some times original reviews written for this blog! This year I managed to watch most of the 2014 Chilean releases and those I missed I regret them, but not that much. I think we had an OK year at the movies here in Chile, but I think it could’ve been so much better. But enough talk, let’s watch!
5. Propaganda (2014, Various Directors)
“There are no camera movements in this documentary, the movement appears and is proposed by the elements inside the frame, whether they be the protests or violence of the masses trying to get something better than what they are offered, moving in perpendicular motion, or the movement of the flames masks the movements behind it, making it a representation of a chaos that is never real nor completely irreversible.”
4. Ver y escuchar (See and Listen) (2013, José Luis Torres Leiva)
“After years of making contemplative films with almost no dialogue, here there’s almost no moments in which there aren’t people talking, as this is essentially a movie about communication. We are presented with three situations/experiments of real life. The first one brings together a blind man and a deaf-mute; through their intermediaries, they have a day out, communicating to each other what their counterpart can’t experience. We hear descriptions of the images we see and descriptions of the sounds we’ve already heard, but we’re witness to each one’s struggle to explain something that the other can’t possibly understand, because each one has a mind that has never had the sense that the other has always been able to perceive.”
3. Matar a un hombre (To Kill a Man) (2014, Alejandro González Almendras)
“This grim and consciously crafted film has already failed at the race for best foreign language Oscar, but it has been widely named the best Chilean film of 2014 by many critics from my country. I think that while not completely spectacular in its resolution, it is a telling film of the state in which our justice and the extent that it can go when it comes to dangerous neighborhoods and people who just seem intimidating, even to the police, and how sometimes the only thing that seems to be the answer is the violence and vengeance. Infuriating and at the same time sad in how the film portrays its acts of violence and crime, the movie does manage to present a fitting end to the series of acts that our protagonist does to take revenge from the criminal that shot his son.”
2. Las niñas Quispe (The Quispe Girls) (2013, Sebastián Sepúlveda)
“The film manages to make you understand and at the same time surprise you with its dread-filled ending, with its surprising twist, but at the same time making you understand why they do what they end up doing. The final shot may be one of the most well composed and at the same time the only one that could be called truly different in the entire movie: it’s the only one with any kind of movement associated to it.”
1. La danza de la realidad (The Dance of Reality) (2013, Alejandro Jodorowsky)
“Others might say that in some way the director can’t see beyond his own bellybutton during the whole film, but here I feel that there’s a connection with the country that saw him grow and with its history, much more than in any other film that he has directed so far, it is at the same time the most personal and the most compromised with something that is never actually something that he speaks too much about: the recent history of Chile. Even if it takes place in another era, during a good chunk of the film, it revolves around the figure of Carlos Ibáñez del Campo, his dictator-like presence, the surrounding sounds of the upcoming second world war, the political landscape, murders and thoughts, meetings and illegalities, communism and other things in that style, but the most disturbing moment is when the father is incarcerated and systematically tortured in ways that seem too well known nowadays, aside from being completely out of time regarding the era that is being portrayed. Maybe this is the way that Jodorowsky found to talk about the dictatorship in Chile.”
‘Pure’ 2014 List
5. Crónica de un comité (A Committee Chronicle) (2014, José Luis Sepúlveda, Carolina Adriazola)
“A politically heavy documentary by two of the strangest directors of Chile, who mix fiction and documentary registration in a crude and raw language. By the time this movie finished its screening, I was already enveloped in the way that the access that the filmmakers have to the subjects of this ‘committee’ and how they took advantage of the use of basic camcorders, handing them out to members of the committee so they could edit their footage in the middle of the narration. It’s a documentary about a committee created by the family of a kid that was killed in Chile by a policeman, only because he was unlucky enough to be in the range of the bullet that was fired. Complications arise when we know that there was no reason for the policeman to be firing that weapon, nor was the kid involved in any of the protests that were going on at the time and that supposedly triggered the shooting. The committee is commanded by the brother of the dead kid, who is wheelchair bound, and we see how their activities, their protests, find them in the most incredible places, trying to find justice, but at the same time falling into a political game as well as some kind of attention grabbing situations that fall far away from the real issues of the crime that was committed. A complex film that will surely be worth revisiting in time.”
4. Propaganda (2014, Various Directors)
3. Desastres Naturales (Natural Disasters) (2014, Bernardo Quesney)
“The playfulness of the visual language — stopping the action and showing hand-drawn animation over the characters to illustrate how much time is left before the parents arrive at a theater presentation some kids in the school are preparing, and thus, realize that a former teacher has taken some kids ransom — is quite fitting and not distracting, as one would think the first time it’s shown. There’s also the rhythm that the film has, a constant moving forward, with dialogue that is always fast paced.”
2. Matar a un hombre (To Kill a Man) (2014, Alejandro González Almendras)
1. Los castores (Beaverland) (2014, Nicolás Molina, Antonio Luco)
“But at the same time, the directors don’t shy away from any element that would undermine their efforts in any way. We see how the people who are complaining against the beavers are mostly higher class, rich countryside people who only see the loss of profit in the incident. Then, there’s the long scene in which they find a dead beaver and dissect it. Or the constant sequences of one of the biologists trying to shoot a group of beavers with a rifle.”
Here’s hoping that we have a better year this 2015. Here’s to Chilean Cinema!