Friday, March 19, 2010

Alonso vs Martel, 2nd Leg

The 1st leg between these two film-makers was summarized back in summer 2009 where Alonso's Los Muertos was the clear winner over Martel's La ciénaga.

The second leg was to feature Alonso's Liverpool vs Martel's The Headless Woman. The Martel feature was first out of the gate and found it much better than La ciénaga. Still, I felt that if Alonso's Liverpool was as good as Los Muertos, then he would easily be the winner.

It turns out that Alonso's Liverpool is much better than Los Muertos and as a result, his film easily wins the second leg over the Martel feature.

Space, Environment and Freedom

While both Martel and Alonso are very good directors, liking one over the other depends on personal choice. The reason I prefer Alonso is because his films allow one to breathe in the environment because his camera is very flexible in capturing space around his characters whereas Martel restricts space because she wants to get in close with not so nice rich characters, people who are not meant to be liked in the first place. Alonso’s characters are probably not nice either. The character, Vargas, in Los Muertos is released from Jail for murder while Farrel in Liverpool ran away from home committing a possible rape but since Alonso places a distance between audience and his characters, we can observe freely and objectively. Plus Alonso takes the audience on a ride through an Argentine country side we hardly see on screen whereas Martel's features are rooted in cities -- all three of Martel's features are filmed in Salta.

Parallels -- Land & Water

Both Los Muertos and Liverpool start with two lonely men leaving a confined space and heading off into a vast open land. Their modes of transportation vary a little as Los Muertos starts on land and then moves onto water (via a boat) while Liverpool starts on a ship and then moves onto land. Both films contain men trying to search for their past in order to find a closure. The ending of Liverpool signifies liberation as one can see all the weight from Farrel's shoulders drop off and he walks away lighter into the snowy landscape.

The lonely nature of Farrel's journey in Liverpool also reminds of the main character in Carlos Reygadas’ Japon. The two characters are almost mirrors of each other but with a different past and journey purpose. In Japon, the character wants to end his life whereas in Liverpool Farrel seeks closure so as to live the rest of his life in peace.

Essential Alonso Reading

Michael Guillen's excellent interview with Alonso at the Evening Class.

James Quandt's brilliant essay in Art Forum which overlooks all of Alonso’s works.

The 2010 Movie World Cup

Argentina, in the form of Lisandro Alonso's Liverpool, is so far a leading contender for winning my movie world cup. Although there should be strong competition from Portugal (via Pedro Costa), Brazil, Germany, Spain and France. Interestingly, all these teams will be among the favourites in the summer soccer tournament as well.

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