American Cup #4 of 4 Initial Matches: ‘Bang Bang’ (1971) vs. ‘Hamaca paraguaya’ (2006)

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‘Bang Bang’ (1971, Andrea Tonacci)

vs.

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‘Hamaca paraguaya’ (2006, Paz Encina) Paraguayan Hammock

I am quite late with this particular match because stuff happens in life and sometimes I don’t have so much time to see movies, so here I am, making excuses and trying to come up with something to say to you guys, but what the hell, let’s just see what happens, ok? So, for Brazil we have a feature that isn’t widely discussed from a director that is some sort of treasure for Brazilian cinephiles, a film that has been compared (in my previous obligatory investigation) to Godard, Carax and many other filmmakers that I hold very closely and dear to my heart, so that’s something to look forward to, specially since Brazil is such a powerhouse in terms of filmmaking worldwide, and I can’t think of another country (maybe only Argentina) that has so many secret pearls and gems waiting to be uncovered by the rest of the world, and that’s because of how vast and incredible their work on film has been, ever since the silent era, and once again this movie was chosen by Filipe Furtado, a great guy and critic, scholar, from Brazil. On the other hand, Paraguay comes along from the darkness, from a country that isn’t necessarily known for its cinema, and along comes the only Paraguayan film I’ve ever heard of (I’m ignorant, ok?) and the one that has received its most amount of praise in the later years, even topping some lists of best films of the decade, the first feature length film of experimental filmmaker Paz Encina and one of the staples of what we call modern “slow cinema”. So, which one will get to me? Let’s see.

‘Bang Bang’ is some sort of strange masterpiece that I can’t bring myself to fully love just because I’m maybe too dumb for it. Starting with a taxi drive that takes a turn for the worst practically every five seconds, this movie has an energy that picks you up and gets you ready for the rest of the film, that isn’t quite as agile or filled with energy, though it never goes down into anything boring or, to put some words into it, wrong, to say anything, it just stays in that manic energy for the longest time and it stays there, nor evolving nor going further than what it does, and what it does is interesting and could become fodder for further discussion and analysis, like the way that it treats women and the appearance of a transvestite criminal, or how it decides to frame the buildings, their staircases and how there seems to be a quiet underwater plot about an actor and its job and where he thinks he is in a movie and when he’s not (hence the Carax connections, I think), and I absolutely loved the nods to Godard in the diner scene, also related is the amount of scenes in which the camera can be visible, and I think that is absolutely on purpose, reminding me of ‘Cinemaphobia’ a really rad short film made by James Rolfe where he has a scene in a bathroom where he shouts that there’s no makeup and no camera with him (the film later ends with a chase in which a camera chases him, fun), but let’s forget this silly banter. I don’t have much else to say mainly because it has been a long time since I needed to post this and because there’s so many people out there, specially Filipe, that can talk so much better about what they think of this movie, while I can quietly admire it but not entirely love it. There are scenes towards the ending that felt like they were just filling up time to make up to the feature length, and that’s mainly because they were bereft of any sense of moral or emotional weight, they were just shots that lingered for long time without anything to support them, this was not slow cinema, as it was more a way of just doing something mildly interesting (and weird) for a long time just to stretch the time of the film, and that was kinda sad. Still, great film, for sure, I just don’t know how to read this, in the context nor at the time, I’m no expert, sadly.

8/10

‘Hamaca paraguaya’ is one of the few Latin American films that can be cataloged in what has been called the “slow film” movement, and sure, there are other slow films from other parts of Latin America, and more clearly we’ve talked about the Uruguayan film ‘Whisky’ (2003) just recently, but I think most of the time we’re talking about reference an imitation. I don’t see the rapture of slow filmmaking in the films of Chilean filmmakers like José Luis Torres Leiva or Dominga Sotomayor, they use some of the elements present in those pictures to enhance a moment here and there, but they aren’t completely slow films, and the same could be said about the Uruguayan film, but that’s a different subject that we’ve touched upon. This is a project that is based on the fact that it needs to be slow, it needs to chronicle a day, since sunrise til sunset, an old Guarani couple starts their day by sitting in a hammock, contemplating the skies, and talking… or not. It’s not clear to me, but there is a soundtrack that accompanies this film that sometimes coincides with what’s happening on the screen, but most of the time it doesn’t, as characters start speaking before they appear, and they keep talking when they are doing other things, and sometimes you can see that their mouths are completely shut while we hear dialogue. It is a film about memory and about the things that are completely lost, and its spoken in the beautiful Guarani language, an indigene tongue that is being slowly erased as the older generations die away, and it’s a national treasure for Paraguay. The film is a deep look at grief and how we react to loss and the perspective or the knowledge of it, as the old couple bicker and fight regarding the rain, the dog of their son and finally their son, that departed to war and may never come back. It’s a period piece but it doesn’t feel like it, as we might find people living, working and dressing like that nowadays in Paraguay, and the issues and problems remain the same, no matter how, but here there seems to be a force regarding their strength as people. The film does become somewhat repetitive and even predictable, which is the death of the slow film as a “genre” (ugh), because it is in the unexpected emotion or turn or visual flair that it wins and maintains a place in our film representations, it is clear that the film mirrors itself with the sunrise/sundown moments, and it just doesn’t seem to advance, while the conversations do seem to have new meaning through some painful information that we find out in previous scenes, but besides that, not much else.

8/10

So, as you might notice, we have some sort of tie (just like in the real soccer match), and we go on penalties, and after many thought I’ve decided to let ‘Bang Bang’ (1971) win, mostly because it feels like a more important film than ‘Hamaca paraguaya’ (2006), which feels like an experiment that could be improved upon with time. So, that means that the Semi-Finals are here and we are left with two matches:

29th June – Uruguay vs. Peru

30th June – Argentina vs. Brazil

Do check out the new matches and sorry for the lateness in this post.

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