» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum

September 7, 2005
Shooting a psychological thriller in a location where one might actually happen in real life is a detail passed over by most filmmakers, but not by Sebastián Cordero. As the Ecuadorian director points out when discussing his new film, Crónicas, Babahoyo is a town where houses don't have running water, but they do have television, a situation that creates an interesting, unpredictable dynamic. I'll buy that, even when a movie that tries to operate on remove the vertebrae of journalistic ethics (are there any left?) couldn't be more acridly out of tune with my cinematic tastes.

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

Helder Gomes
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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