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October 19th, 2011 WW Screen Staff | Movie Reviews & Stories
 

Portland Latin American Film Festival

Viva Villa! Viva accordions!

screen.box.colorsofthemountain_3750WE’RE THE KIDS IN COLOMBIA: The Colors of the Mountain. - Courtesy of Film Movement.

Chicogrande

38 [MEXICO] The 41st film of 74-year-old Mexican auteur Felipe Cazals is a deeply silly western loosely inspired by Gen. George Pershing’s 1916 pursuit of outlaw Pancho Villa into northern Mexico. Dubbed the “punitive expedition,” the incursion was a response to Villa’s razing of the town of Columbus, N.M., in which 18 Americans died. This is what Americans do when we’re attacked by terrorists: We take the fight to their homes. Cazals really isn’t out to explore Mexican-American relations, though. The film uses the invasion as a transparent analogy for our current wars. Cazals apparently couldn’t find enough atrocities in history, so Pershing is subbed out in favor of the fictional Butch Fenton, a mustachioed Col. Kurtz who horsewhips, beats or hangs every “fucking greaser” he encounters in the Sierra Madre. Curiously, all the American characters speak only English (with a Texas twang) and the Mexican characters only Spanish. The English script is laughably awful. A representative exchange: “You don’t want knowledge. You want to mutilate and kill.” “This monkey here is neither a soldier nor a white man.” If you thought Green Zone wasn’t preachy enough, this is the flick for you. BEN WATERHOUSE. 7 pm Thursday and 9 pm Saturday, Oct. 20 & 22.


The Colors of the Mountain

76 [COLOMBIA] When people praise the acting of children, they usually mean the children display an adult-like subtlety and fluidity of emotion but on a tiny face. This film’s kids are something else. There is a refreshing awkwardness and suddenness to their performances, as if they were trying on expressions that are not yet their own. In their poor guerrilla-filled town at the foot of mountains, they’re trapped between sides in a violent civil war. The film’s dominant metaphor is a soccer ball stuck in a minefield (as opposed to merely being over a neighbor’s fence, guarded by a scary dog), making it seem the emotions they’re stuck with shouldn’t, really, be theirs, even as the film remains very much so. It’s touching and accurate to childhood, without any heavy-handedness. MATTHEW KORFHAGE. 7 pm Saturday, Oct. 22.


The Wind Journeys

77 [COLOMBIA] The story is well-trammeled and the travelers not very vibrant company, but who cares when The Wind Journeys has accordion rap battles! Technically, those are vallenato folk musicians dueling with their squeezeboxes, but the macho swagger and rhyming insults are the same as Supernat killing Juice. (Well, not quite the same: One face-off begins with one bellow-slinger dropping the line, “It smells like sorcery in here.”) It’s the Colombian accordion version of 8 Mile—though maybe it’s more like 800 Mile, since the hero rides a burro from town to town, playing at festivals and providing a live soundtrack for a bridge-top machete fight. Director Ciro Guerra’s mountainscapes and endless blooming fields are worthy of the age of CinemaScope, and there’s a trace of Peckinpah in the images of hard men cradling their loneliness like a musical instrument. AARON MESH. 4:40 pm Sunday, Oct. 23. 


SEE IT: The 5th Annual Portland Latin American Film Festival screens at the Hollywood Theatre on Thursday-Wednesday, Oct. 20-26.

 
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