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In the film, which debuted earlier this year in the Cannes Film Festival's Un Certain Regard section, John Leguizamo plays Manolo Bonilla, an ambitious journalist who works for a tabloid TV series. He and his crew - a cameraman and the beautiful Marisa - are willing to sell their souls to the devil, if they must, in the eternal quest for career advancement. The crew's anything-goes mentality is the best part of the movie, really: their readiness to disregard any sense of ethics or deontology they might harbor. Marisa is the only one who truly regrets having overlooked some basic principles.
In a reversal of human and God roles (and we all know how feverously religious Mexican people can be), everyone plays God here. From the mutinous people seeking to lynch a Bible salesman for accidentally running over a boy, to the "monster of Babahoyo" himself, a killer famed for targeting children, and Leguizamo's character, salivating for his biggest story, there is no power more righteous than one's own. And so an odd alliance is made, somehow reminiscent of Faust, if you look carefully: Vinicio Cepeda, the traveling preacher who finds himself behind bars after indivertibly killing a boy with his truck and, in a desperate attempt to free himself from jail, is reduced to selling his story of the monster rather than selling the Bible.
Crónicas underlines the dense variety of human fauna populating Mexican villages, but the story fails to divert our view from the traditional, commonsensical approach of people eager to be seen on TV. Cordero seems so anxious to set and scan the voltage levels of human behaviour that he completely forgets to deliver an interesting story, serving the usual, kitsch-like menu instead. His camera even sprinkles extra lemon juice over certain sordid moments of the film, making it a tabloid-esque, arid and dreary modern tale, hollow of any real meaning or value.
It is obvious that the director weighed every camera move cautiously, his lenses traveling through the village to detail the setting, but it ultimately fails to compromise our view of fractured cinema. In the end, it leaves itself ambiguous, unable to put a time-signatured footprint in our minds. Shot with a glossy production and wrought with careless close-ups, Crónicas falls short in texture, leaving many unsolved problems hanging in the air.
The best films are the ones which we recall in detail, not only the content but also our relationship to it, where and when and with whom we saw them. Crónicas is ultimately ambiguous, lacking that intimacy of human experience. Even though Cordero deserves applause for delivering a human touch to every character, including the monster of Babahoyo, the human experience presented languishes as entertainment, failing to develop a connection with the viewer, always remaining distant, a video collage that is cold, detatched and vaccum sealed under the glaze of the lens. SEE ALSO: www.cronicasthemovie.net
Currently living on the south bank of the Tagus river, in Portugal, Helder Gomes is a working class hero. He is a journalist for the local radio station Rádio Nova Anten. In his spare time, he skates and watches many odd movies. He is in love with the French nouvelle vague, and the Danish/Swedish invasion. He writes for a number of publications, on the Internet or otherwise, notably the underground Portuguese magazine Mondo Bizarre, and the Jazz Review website. He is also the news collector and a staff witer for the adorable Lost at Sea. Oh, and there is also the Coffee Breakz radio show that he tries to host every Saturday.
See other articles by Helder Gomes.
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