Wednesday night I was invited to a very early sneak preview of this amazing film. It depicts the true 1977 story of an Argentinian soccer player who was kidnapped and detained by the military government then in place for being part of a rebel group — charges of which he was completely innocent. It was very Solzhenitsyn, very scary. The beginning was confusing — I couldn’t tell what was going on, just that his family was being threatened, then that he was being captured and beaten by someone for something — and that something I never completely understood. At first, I found this confusion annoying, and couldn’t help comparing the movie to another favorite of mine, In the Name of the Father, starring Daniel Day Lewis. But that story was told from an omniscient point of view (it showed Gerry Conlon getting into petty trouble by the police, then the Belfast pub bombing, and then how the government officials were led, wrongly, to Conlon and his friends as the perpetrators, much of the action to the rhythmic beat of poppy U2 music… maybe it was told from the omniscient p.o.v. partly because of pressure to avoid being accused of IRA sympathy?…) But this film was far less Hollywood, more quiet, more real, and I soon realized, was meant to be told mainly from the main character’s perspective precisely so that we’d relate to him. He had no idea what was happening to him and why, and the audience experiences that bewilderment along with him. Full of disturbing but necessary violent images, it becomes an edge-of-your-seat thriller once the four prisoners we come to know the best plot their escape. It stars Rodrigo de la Serna, who played Alberto Granada in Motorcycle Diaries. Since he played the character opposite Che Guevara in that movie, attention wasn’t focused on him, but here you can really see what an amazingly talented actor he is. The whole film is extremely well acted. And it powerfully drove home how horrible, how frightening it is when it’s the government who’s organizing the terrorism; when there’s no accountability. I don’t want to give anything away, but it isn’t until the tail end of the movie, when you’re told, via text, the final outcome of the men’s lives years later, that you feel safe. As bored as I sometimes get practicing law, it reminded me that where there’s no judicial system, there’s no protection of human rights. It made me feel better — at least momentarily — about being a part of that system, even if I’m just a tiny cog in one wheel of a huge machine. During the focus group held after the viewing, which I participated in, the discussion leader asked what one word people would use to describe the film, and, amidst terms like “thriller,” “suspenseful,” and “intense,” a woman shouted out “relevant.” Totally. There definitely need to be more films like this — about ALL forms of government-endorsed torture.
Anyway, not to be facetious given the gravity of the film, but Rodrigo de la Serna is cute! And, funnily, I kept seeing male ABT principal dancers in the movie too. Horribly, the murderous power-hungry leader of the detention house kept reminding me of Marcelo, albeit ten years older and with a 70s Village People-esque moustache, and I kept seeing Herman Cornejo in the bravely insolent prisoner who sets the escape plan in motion… And, using another dance metaphor, as someone in the focus group remarked, the escape was really well choreographed. The men are all completely naked, since they’ve been stripped by their detainers, so the climbing down walls, swinging on ropes, sprinting down streets, etc. seems like it would have been difficult without exposing too much… yet it was really well done. And the cinematography was interesting too — I normally don’t notice things like that, but in the early scenes, where the men are blindfolded or beaten senseless, the director shot the captors and insides of the house at an angle, so you were cocking your head all about trying to make sense of what you were seeing, much like one of the prisoners. It was a gorgeous film; I don’t know how long it’s going to be until it comes out, because they usually don’t have the focus groups if the film is nearly done, but when it does open, GO SEE IT!!!
Speaking of movies: my friend Nicole found this article about the short film I’d posted about earlier that I’d seen at the Tribeca Film Festival. Made by this preternaturally sophisticated teenager, Kiri Davis, it’s entitled “A Girl Like Me,” and deals with young African American girls’ internalized self-hatred; the young filmmaker astutely performed the same doll test as Dr. Kenneth Clark that Thurgood Marshall used in the landmark anti-segregation case, Brown v. Board of Ed. I’m so glad to see she’s getting more exposure for her amazing film! Go Kiri!!!
Perhaps ABT dancers were on my mind when I saw Cronica because I just spent LOADS on my subscription to their fall City Center season. Ugh. But I did save 27% by buying my tickets all together (they give you a discount for a purchase of three or more performances), and so of course I used this savings to justify getting orchestra seats, where I find I can get the most out of the performance… They’re setting up at the theater now — there’s a huge poster of Marcelo lifting Julie outside 🙂 And more pics inside, in their lovely brochure: Herman looking very dapper in Twyla Tharp’s Sinatra Suite, David in The Green Table, the guys in Stanton Welch’s Clear, and absolutely gorgeous pictures by Fabrizio Ferri of the principals — I don’t think anyone has photographed them so well. Particularly David — he really brought out his strong Roman bone structure, delicate light skin and beautiful light blue eyes; and Jose — he shot him from below, so he looks all powerful, like the hunky badass NY actor Franky G., albeit half the size and likely possessing four times the strength 🙂 If Ferri wasn’t Alessandra‘s partner, I’d think he was gay. Not that a man (a male artist anyway) needs to be gay to appreciate male beauty but… Anyway, I’m very excited about ABT — will be a good thing to come back to after returning from my big ballroom / beach blast in Florida. As will — not to be goofy and I’m totally not a TV-head — Dancing With the Stars, starring Karina Karina Karina! Ooh, don’t they look adoooorable?!?