American Cup #2 of 2 Semi-Final Matches: ‘El caudillo pardo’ (2005) vs. ‘El pejesapo’ (2007)

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‘El caudillo pardo’ (2005, Aldo Salvini)

vs.

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‘El pejesapo’ (2007, José Luis Sepúlveda)

Late. Late post is late. I know. Let’s get on with it. So, this Semi-Final match is between Peru and Chile, as said before the films in the Peru selection were chosen by Nicolás Carrasco and the films by Chile were chosen by Marcelo Morales. The match, so we can get on with our lives and know what will be on the final, will happen right now in front of your eyes…

***

‘El caudillo pardo’ is a documentary about one of the strangest and despicable characters that I have seen in a while, and sadly, the documentary doesn’t do much to criticize him except to throw some visual gags, but it ultimately seems to not care about his positions as much as they give him a place for him to mutter his hateful speech. He is a Jew that is also a Nazi, Peruvian and ultimately a woman hater. While it uses a stark black and white cinematography that surprises as well as it reminds you that there is no reason to use color in your film if it won’t add anything to the whole idea of it, it does provide with some moments of honest shock, specially when he plans out his demential plans and then commits to them thanks to the help of the filmmakers, planning out performances, screams, speeches and a bunch of other things that are more than anything demonstrations of this character’s overall fascist demeanor. For a moment you might think that some of his points are valid, specially when he distinguishes between the Nazi ideology that drove the Jews to death (although he doesn’t believe in the Holocaust) and the Nazi ideology that he puts forward and lives by in his daily life, but then he starts to talk about how there’s a role model that women must serve, and there’s a couple of sequences starring mannequins that are quite creepy and just demonstrate that if he were given enough strength he’d go out killing all the people that he thinks aren’t worthy of living in his ideal society. In a way, the documentary makes you keep watching, wondering what else is he going to say, but overall it doesn’t say much else besides everything that he repeats and goes on and on about for almost two hours. It’s a missed opportunity, or maybe laziness (I don’t believe that the director or those behind it would believe any of the ideology that this man spouted at them) that there isn’t a stronger indication or condemnation towards the words that he says, at least, not beyond the actual representation of those words on screen. I believe that I’d have the same experience if I went to Peru and encountered this guy in the street and stuck around to talk to him. That’s not actually a nice experience.

6/10

‘El pejesapo’ is one of those films that you’ve heard so much about and even some have told you everything that happens in it, but it still manages to surprise you once you see it. Well, when I’m saying that I’ve heard about it before, I’m saying that it’s a pretty famous film among the New Chilean Cinema favorites, specially among film students that watched it in the few screens that had it, and went on to make their own shitty copycat films. This is a unique experience, one that is birthed out of the need of doing something completely different in the landscape of fiction cinema. It puts forward a man, another despicable man (much like the one in ‘El caudillo pardo’) and lives an adventure with him, starting with his truncated suicide that puts him in what seems to be some sort of hell landscape, a small village around a power plant that deafens those who go near it. The filmmaker here creates a fantastic almost mythological landscape out of the every-day objects and scenarios that are around the capital of Chile, using non-actors to give it the necessary real foundations (and the sketchy quality of the acting itself, which becomes a commentary on the real situations where these characters come from, specially when it comes to the criminal and drug addict background of the protagonist). In a way, we see a backwards Dante, someone who begins in the purgatory and then escapes to the real world, where he is confronted with his daily life, that he considers a hell: he’s jobless, has a little girl daughter that he doesn’t truly care about, has a wife with a brain dis-function that makes her speak weirdly, and he seems to only care about his base drugs, which melt his brain and make him even more miserable. The film becomes more and more complex as it goes on, specially when the protagonist and his wife go to a transvestite circus (a phenomena that is highly popular in Chile, though I don’t know if its any popular outside of here, it caters to the low income population and verges on dirty jokes and overall sexism/homophobia, birthed out of self hate and the honest attraction that these trans bodies have on men that won’t accept their sexual nature) and they are presented as ‘special performers’ yet they don’t do anything, they are just sitting there, and there along comes the transvestite that is seduced by our protagonist, and then oral sex happens and well it all becomes much more interesting. The main problem I have with this film is that it just stops. It goes a little bit longer than it should, as it makes some strong statements about the idea of masculinity in Chile, and later it just continues with some random events and then it ends. A shame, but what it’s there is amazing and worthy of heavier discussion. No wonder this is among the favorite Chilean films of the past few years for many.

8/10

So, that means that Chile advances! The final will be between the USA and Chile. Who will win? Let’s find out… soon. I swear.

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