Monday, October 29, 2012

The Dictator (Larry Charles)

Admiral General Aladeen.

After 3 years, Sacha Baron Cohen is back yet again with his comic shenanigans, but this time, it is on a bigger political scale. "The Dictator", a film that marks Cohen's third collaboration with director Larry Charles, is a gross-out satire of, obviously, everything dictatorial and politically unethical. But unlike "Borat" and "Bruno", "The Dictator" is visually more polished (mainly because of its bigger budget) and a tad more ambitious in scope. 
But then again, compared to the two earlier films, "The Dictator" is also quite forgettable. Sure, the trademark Sacha Baron Cohen comedy is still there, but the ingenuity and effortless wit seem amiss this time around. The politically incorrect jokes are spot-on yet there's something off in their deliveries. As one racial joke bombards the screen after another, I sure have let out some laughs, but they are ones that are hollow and abrupt. 
Although I wouldn't go to great lengths by describing the Cohen-Charles combo as a 'train finally running out of steam', I think that there's just a lack of general inspiration and twist in how the film was realized. It has sure made me laugh numerous times, but the jokes (especially the racial ones) are often generic and sometimes just plain bland. As far as I'm concerned, this is their weakest film yet in terms of comedy, but as a potent political satire, "The Dictator" is a bit of a success. The Cohen-Charles team seems to be humorously degenerating yet satirically improving with every film. Perhaps that's quite a consolation. 
With majority of current world news circling around controversial dictators from parts unknown and the quasi-humorous manias they so nonchalantly flaunt, it is inevitable for a comic provocateur like Sacha Baron Cohen to take on such a persona. Sporting an overly thick beard, a mock Middle Eastern accent and a complete lack of common human decency, he has transformed into Admiral General Aladeen: a monster of a dictator (of the fictional Republic of Wadiya) who orders murders at will and has a penchant for nuclear supremacy. By combining Borat's political tactlessness and social ineptitude with Bruno's vulgarity and sexual promiscuity, Sacha Baron Cohen was able to form the foundations of his Aladeen character, with some additional touches of 'control freak' wickedness. 
While this may not be Sacha Baron Cohen's best character (that would still go to Borat), his turn as Aladeen is still quite memorable because of the way he has displayed the humorous extent of how a man raised in an isolated manger of violent political power deals with the reality outside his own. The result may not have been the freshest in terms of execution, but nonetheless, there were flashes of comic brilliance all throughout the film that were relatively able to carry "The Dictator's" satirical weight. 
Compared to "Borat" and "Bruno", "The Dictator" is the closest that both Sacha Baron Cohen and Larry Charles can get to a narrative. But the way I see it, perhaps the film's adherence to a standardized plot is quite a disadvantage because Aladeen was utilized not as a freewheeling character much like Borat Sagidyev is but as a parody of a character who merely operates within the confines of a predictable narrative (notice how the film, as it progresses, slowly takes on a tone akin to a rom-com?). Although Aladeen as a character was in no way wasted, I think it's fair to say that his utmost potential as a riotously funny character was mostly left untouched. 
On the other hand, I have to give the rest of the cast lots of credits, especially Anna Faris and Jason Mantzoukas (with bits of Ben Kingsley) in how they have complemented Sacha Baron Cohen's often times overbearing presence. 
As a comedy film, "The Dictator" is too heavily flawed to be ranked shoulder-to-shoulder with the very masterful "Borat" (still Sacha Baron Cohen's best film). But as a no-holds-barred political satire, the film is very, very effective. I especially loved the scene where Aladeen and his nuclear scientist, Nadal (Jason Mantzoukas), are talking about innocuous things in their native language aboard a tourist helicopter when, suddenly, two tourists riding along with them mistake their conversation as an insidious plan to go 9/11 on the Empire State Building's ass. It is moments like this that makes "The Dictator" more special than it has any right to be. Oh, and also maybe Edward Norton's cameo.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles (Erik Matti)


Finally, the first Filipino film to be shot entirely on green screen has been released. With that piece of fact, I am really quite torn: Are we supposed to be proud of this giant leap of technological advancement or should we be frustrated by the fact that we may be in an age where computerized style is more prioritized than narrative substance? Suffice it to say, "Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles" has nothing new to offer, story-wise, but there's something in its comic self-awareness (thanks in part to Jade Castro's participation in the film) that separates it from countless horror films being locally released today. 
Without any of "The Healing's" thematic pretenses or "Corazon: Ang Unang Aswang's" seemingly forced psychological angle, "Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles" is more successful compared to the two not because of its special effects but mainly because it knows for a fact that depiction of 'Aswangs' on film need not any complexities and that horror movies can be as riotously funny as it is disturbing. 
Known as a relatively humorless filmmaker, director Erik Matti was surprisingly able to balance both the comedy and the fright throughout the course of the film. Just like how Jade Castro's "Zombadings" is a satire of our local horror film scene's zombie sub-genre (and also of our 'drag queen' culture), "Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles" is a tongue-in-cheek exploration of what comprises not just a true 'Aswang' film but also a good black comedy. One of them, of course, is a solid cast. 
Dingdong Dantes, playing the film's brash protagonist, is very effective in his abundant display of both arrogance and reluctant heroism. With a spot-on sense of urban bravado, Dantes has perfectly captured a city dweller's perceived self-importance and superiority when interacting with humble country people, or so they seem to be. While Joey Marquez, a great comedy actor by his own right (especially in his films with Lito Pimentel), is an inspired casting choice. In his role as Lovi Poe's character's father, he has paradoxically combined both cowardice and misplaced machismo in an Aswang-laden backdrop that asks for neither. And arguably in the film's most shockingly hilarious moment involving Marquez, a dead body and a fresh, beating heart, he has humorously performed a sickly vengeful act that will surely do Hammurabi proud. 
But among the strong supporting cast, that which include Janice de Belen, Roi Vinzon and Mike Gayoso among others, it was Ramon Bautista who has stolen the whole show. His performance was in no way the greatest ever (or even the best in the film for that matter), but his natural comic rapport with the camera is just so effortless that he has seemingly put the majority of the film's humorous weight on his shoulders.
By mainstream standards, "Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles" is very, very violent; and for a horror film that promises innovation, the film's plot and premise is relatively derivative. But that's what makes this film so enjoyable. It's conscious of its own trashy sensibilities and it flaunts it with bloody gusto and comic craftiness. Despite of the fact that it was obviously inspired by western horror films, "Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles" is still undoubtedly Pinoy, especially in its peculiar capturing of our own supernatural roots by way of slapstick horror. The only thing that I have found to be quite off in the film is its extreme use of Zack Snyder-esque slow-motion and the unnecessary CGI-fication of the 'Aswangs' themselves, which has made them a tad less threatening and more of a collective of creatures antagonistically believable only if put side-by-side with Enteng Kabisote. 
Nonetheless, "Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles" is still a very enjoyable cinematic experience. Hell, it has even made product placements look fun. By turning bits of Boy Bawang into potential long-range weapons reminiscent of Marc Solis' projectile corn bits in "Magic Temple" and Lipps candy into an elixir of bravery, the film makes me want to be a make-believe Aswang hunter in a wasteland of scattered flesh and bones. Despite of its violent content, the film has still managed to touch a chord or two in my inner child. Now that's something.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Looper (Rian Johnson)

Looper Joe.

Considered as one of the most highly original science fiction films in recent memory, I personally think that "Looper" is more of a great example of a cinematic pastiche done right. Think of a hundred times more vulnerable T-800 randomly meeting up with a more dead serious Doc Brown inside a dilapidated Xavier Institute and you have "Lopper". 
Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and frequent time-traveler "Bruce Willis" (remember "12 Monkeys"?), "Looper" is a relatively bleak film with a beating heart. In a haze of modern sci-fi films that are more concerned with the extravagance of CGI rather than the beauty of human emotions, "Looper" is a commendable exception because it stimulates both the heart and the mind at the same breath. 
Set in the year 2044 where hitmen (called 'loopers') are paid to kill for the gangsters of the future (the invention of time travel in 2074 has made it possible to zap people back in time), the film is about a looper named Joe and his surprising encounter with his older self. 
Though not as action-oriented as "Inception" or "The Matrix", "Looper" has this visual appeal that makes me want to hug director Rian Johnson in great appreciation. Instead of relying to the wonders that computer-generated effects can do to action sequences, Rian Johnson's treatment of the film's scenes of action and violence is sort of a throwback to the olden (and maybe also golden) age of action films reigned by the likes of Paul Verhoeven and John McTiernan. This is "RoboCop" violence right here. 
Given the fact that everything in the film seems to be borrowed from other pre-existing creations, director Rian Johnson has handled it all very well. As what French New Wave champion Jean-Luc Godard has said: "It's not where you take things from – it's where you take them to." 
Though not necessarily a great film, "Looper" is still a fresh science fiction creation worthy of praise. But of course, it is not without its share of flaws. One of my main issues with the film is how the younger and older versions of Joe (the former being Joseph Gordon-Levitt and the latter being Bruce Willis) were not given enough time to truly interact. Perhaps the urgency of their situation calls for them not to, but their friction as two extreme states of mind, despite of them being one and the same, was not properly explored either. In that aspect, I was short-changed. 
I also was not overly impressed by the whole 'Rainmaker' concept. In case you still haven't watched the film, 'The Rainmaker' is a futuristic and telekinetic Hitler, plain and simple. Because of his unmatched power, he has single-handedly taken over the future and is now closing all the loops. By the way, to close a loop means that a looper's future self is to be sent back in time so that it can be killed by none other than his younger self. 
For me, just the very idea of a present and future self freely interacting with each other and the dangers of doing so is enough to form one thematically weighty film. But wait, the film's creators thought that that would not properly suffice so they have integrated the overly ambitious idea of a Book of Revelations-esque figure like 'The 'Rainmaker' to complexify (yeah, give me that red underline, MS Word) things even more. I sure do love cinematic complexity when I sense one, but what I do not want is thematic overload, which this film is a great example of. 
But on the other hand, I did enjoy the performances. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is quietly intense as the younger Joe. Though his narrations may be quite spoon-feeding at times, his on-screen performance is comparably lesser (yet effective) in exposition. His face may display the same constipated look throughout the course of the film but you can constantly sense the escalating conflict brewing within him. Here in "Looper", Joseph Gordon-Levitt has just proved that the less showy characters are always the hardest ones to portray because it's a make or break kind of thing. As an actor taking on such a role, it's either you'll be accused of lazy acting or praised for your powerful subtlety. In his performance's case, it's definitely the latter. 
Now perhaps I'm quite biased on this one because I have always been a big fan of his, but I really think that it was Bruce Willis who has exuded the better presence in the film. In his portrayal of the older Joe, there's this certain air of 'nothing to lose' desperation and melancholy that really makes his character so sympathetic yet frightening; echoes of his performance in "12 Monkeys" persists. 
As for the rest of the cast, I think that two other actors have really stood out. The first one is the beautiful Emily Blunt, whose turn as a desensitized, no-nonsense Southern woman named Sara is very convincing. The second one is Pierce Gagnon, whose terrific juvenile performance as Sara's mysterious son has elevated the film to a whole new level. Now this might be a bit of an exaggeration, but not since Catinca Untaru in Tarsem Singh's "The Fall" have I seen a better child performance. 
All in all, I was very impressed by "Looper", especially in how it has preferred silence and dialogue over cheap plot twists and slam-bang action. But from where I can see it, I think that the film is ultimately a victim of its own ideas. Torn between time travel, telekinesis and dystopia, what resulted is a finely-executed yet fairly confused film. Perhaps some thematic trimming is what the film needs.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-wai)

Mr. Chow and Mrs. Chan.

It is quite well-known that Wong Kar-wai's filmography is one of great cinematic essence, so as a long-time film fan, I am quite ashamed to say that this is the first film of his that I have ever seen. But what I have felt right at the very moment the film has started is one of immediate admiration. "In the Mood for Love", a film of quiet romantic power, is really not about love at its most denotative sense. Instead, like the later "Lost in Translation", it is a film of how romance transforms into something more than the usual hugs and kisses. Sometimes, it is not strictly eternal love that people look for but simple human connection, and in this film, it was displayed in a way that fully evokes the particular emptiness that asks for it and the gentle emotional force that attempts to fill it up. 
The film's premise, about two lost souls and their sudden romantic spark after finding out that their respective better halves are cheating on them, is a subtle observation about the pain of extramarital affairs. And with Wong Kar-wai's choice of not showing the two characters' cheating husband and wife's faces, the film takes on a more absolute form. They know that they wouldn't be together for a long time, but they are aware of the feelings that will permeate across time years after they part ways. And in this brief time that they share together, how comforting it is to feel that all of it shall last forever. 
But wait, how about their marriages? Isn't this a form of cheating as well? Well, maybe that is the case, but Wong Kar-wai highlights the fact (through precise cinematographic compositions and haunting musical score) that their romance is in no way a form of transgression; hell, it's not even romantic revenge per se. Instead, it is quite simply because of human impulse, of our tendencies to look for a hand to hold on to in our perennial struggle to find answers to our questions, and of our adherence to the concept of love no matter the emotional price we may subsequently pay. We are born to love, but hell, we are also born to be hurt; "In the Mood for Love" dwells somewhere in the middle. 
Stars Tony Leung Chiu-Wai (playing Mr. Chow) and Maggie Cheung (playing Mrs. Chan) are evidently perfect in their roles. In the film's earlier moments, their body language perfectly conveys their utter indifference to one another. But as the film progresses, especially at the moment when they both realize that the love they have found is something that cannot be cherished for a longer time (their husband and wife are merely on a business trip in Japan, presumably consummating their own secret love), their faces show something that suggests contemplative sadness. They hate to see each other go but they nonetheless accept it. They both hate to cut their romance short but they know that it is wrong to prolong it even more. They both know that they need each other but they just can't continue on doing so. And in one of the film's most powerful scenes, we see how they rehearse their final farewells and the subsequent pain that comes along with it. Saying goodbye is indeed a hard thing to do especially if the one you're uttering it to is the final person you'll ever wish to be on its receiving end. 
It is from this complex set-up that I was able to see through Wong Kar-wai's emotional maturity as a filmmaker. He is quite aware of the fact that human connection always arises from the most unexpected of situations and that love is a mercurial aspect of life that's easy to feel yet slides so easily from the palm of the hands. He is also quite articulate about the sheer transience of time and its role in reminding us that moments may fade but feelings just wouldn't. "In the Mood for Love", an artful amalgamation of style and substance, is a symphonic film about the unpredictability of love, the persistence of memory, and the gentle, bittersweet pain of harboring a beautiful secret. Welcome to my film-watching consciousness, Mr. Wong Kar-wai.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson)

The eloping lovers.

I have always been fond of Wes Anderson's works but, strangely, was never entirely awed by any of them. Personally, I find his works more to be testaments in great character handling rather than pieces that truly exemplify great storytelling. Perhaps it's just a matter of taste. 

I commenced watching "Moonrise Kingdom" with zero expectations. Yes, although many reviewers are already branding it (and maybe quite prematurely at that) as one of the true best films of the year, I have veered myself away from that perspective simply because I do not want to be disappointed. But hell, them reviewers were right; "Moonrise Kingdom" is indeed something really, really special and, to some extent, even quite spectacular. I have never really thought that I would ever describe a Wes Anderson as something that oozes 'spectacle' but there you go. Wes, the truest hipster filmmaker out there, has just upped his ante, and it's something that's worthy of some genuine celebration. 

On one side, there's Bruce Willis, Edward Norton and Bill Murray (as always). On the other, there's Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton and some surprising bits of Harvey Keitel. Though Wes Anderson is really not known for casting unknown actors to play his ever-quirky characters, "Moonrise Kingdom's" ensemble cast is just awe-inspiring. 

The story concerns the emotional misadventures of two troubled pre-adolescents (Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward), their budding romance, and their subsequent decision to run away from their parents in the name of whatever their concept of love is. For a film that's focused mainly on two young, peculiar lovers' awkward elopement, the film's cast is amazingly heavyweight. But "Moonrise Kingdom's" screenplay (penned by Roman Coppola and Wes Anderson himself), although not as articulately weird as some of Anderson's previous efforts, is very strong and emotionally direct that it has rendered the supporting adult characters to be as essential (sometimes even more so) as the two young ones. In hindsight, with the film's patented tableau-like sequences and a musical score that sarcastically serenades the abundance of dry wit and dark humor in it, "Moonrise Kingdom" seems to be treading the usual path towards a very typical Wes Anderson film, which may also result on a slight frustration on my part as a viewer. 

But with every film, Wes Anderson seems to be bent on constantly topping himself by taking on a more ambitious, visionary and expansive palette than the last. From India ("The Darjeeling Limited") to the woods ("The Fantastic Mr. Fox"), he is capable enough to create his creatively personal and quasi-fantastical versions of these environments. In "Moonrise Kingdom's case, he has successfully outdone himself even more. Aside from the fact that he has conjured up the fictional island of New Penzance out of thin air, he has also creatively integrated a detailed description of its terrains by way of the narrator (played by Bob Balaban), a short, gray-bearded man who enters and exits scenes for no apparent pattern and reason. 

Serving as the arena for the two young lovers' mutual, albeit strange affection, New Penzance, as the story progresses, also seems to take on a character of its own. Aside from the populating characters whose offbeat demeanors paint the whole island with faded hues, the island has its own air of life that's quite reminiscent of some far away fairy tale lands. This is the kind of place where fantasy and reality has once figuratively met, made love and subsequently separated in bitter, contemptuous tears. New Penzance, despite of its visual serenity, is a place of colorful anomaly. It is an island of bittersweet desperation and tender angst. It is a haven of regret and love both at its faintest whisper and most thunderous cry. 

Without much pretense in dialogue and eccentricity in characters (the characters in this film are, by far, the most conventional of all Wes Anderson films), Wes Anderson was finally able to subtly connect with me by just letting his visuals and his sweet tale of naïve love utter the things that are otherwise unspeakable by the tongue. To some extent, "Moonrise Kingdom" has even reawakened the quiet poet and the adventurous camper within me. Finally, I have found the Wes Anderson film that I am looking for. On second thought, maybe it's the one that has found me.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Bulaklak sa City Jail (Mario O'Hara)


Widely considered as one of Nora Aunor's best films, it's just quite puzzling that Cinema One rarely shows it. Last night, they finally did (at around 11:30 pm). Lucky me, I was still awake and was able to catch it, and indeed, it was a truly powerful film. 
Directed by the late great Mario O'Hara, "Bulaklak sa City Jail" is not your usual Filipino melodrama. Instead, it is a dramatic film that is more concerned about the suspense of its revelations rather than the shedding of tears. Based on a story by Lualhati Bautista, the film is a well-weaved, bare it all portrait of the lives of incarcerated women and how they were rendered cruel and more sexually desperate by time. One of them is new inmate Angela (Nora Aunor), a nightclub singer who was arrested because of attempted murder. With her frail personality and small body frame, she's not exactly the one you may visualize when you think of women prisoners.  
Moral-wise, she is not the most perfect of characters, but there's something in her that speaks to your soul. Perhaps it is Aunor's eyes, or maybe it is her character's desire to escape and start anew. Whatever it is, Angela fascinates me not because of her purity as a woman but because of the complete opposite; I was drawn to her because of her numerous flaws. Such a character is tailor-made for Nora Aunor, and she has proven her understated power as an actress once more by portraying Angela not as someone who's shallowly righteous but as a woman (and pregnant at that) who just want to set things right. We sympathize with her not just because she is the main character but simply because she deserves it, and we pity her not merely as a movie character but as a tangible human being.
With films like "Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos", "Bakit Bughaw ang Langit?" and the more recent "Babae sa Breakwater", the great Mario O'Hara has repeatedly journeyed us through the corners of a woman's heart both in the context of love and society. But in "Bulaklak sa City Jail", motherhood has been the main focus. On one side, we have Luna (Celia Rodriguez), a woman who prostitutes herself inside the prison just so she can financially support her son. On the other, we have Viring (Perla Bautista), a woman who lost her sanity when her child was taken away from her. There's also Juliet (Gina Alajar), a young woman who desires escape so that she can be with her son again and also take revenge on those (specifically her husband and his lover) who took advantage of her incarceration. 
In these scarred images of motherhood, we are given the temporal freedom in deciding which of them will ultimately mirror Angela's fate as a mother when she finally delivers her child. It's a question that subtly runs throughout the film, and in one of the most powerfully intense sequences in all of Philippine cinema, we see how Angela takes sanctuary inside a literal lion's den (in Manila Zoo, while being chased by policemen) where she has ironically delivered her child in peace. With that, O'Hara and Bautista seem to suggest something awfully pessimistic: that we have been too socially cruel for our own good that the only safe place to bring a child into this world is in the primitive presence of inept animals. Yes I know, that may have been too negative a cinematic statement, but that's not exactly invalid either. 
Now plot-wise, the intensity of that particular sequence wouldn't have been that successful if not for the careful pacing (and a musical score that's reminiscent of "Psycho"). With a great narrative development that can only be attributed to delicate writing and directing, O'Hara has built and staged the film like a suspenseful novel. And although I do not like how the film has ended in much the same way I hated how "Hinugot sa Langit" was concluded, I do not necessarily disagree with it. Perhaps the film has brooded too much in its entirety that a happy ending seems out of place. But hell, Angela deserves it, and amid all the moral filth, it's a refreshing sight to behold.


Saturday, October 6, 2012

Los Olvidados (Luis Buñuel)

El Jaibo.

Years before his satirical digs towards the bourgeoisie crowd with masterful films like "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie" and "The Phantom of Liberty", Luis Buñuel was already out there stressing a significant point or two. And in "Los Olvidados'" case, it is the tragedy of children forced into the life of crime not because they want to but because there really is no other option; that and maybe some lack of guidance and parental warmth. Can you really blame a petty crime solely on the small hands that have done it? 

With a visual preference that is geared more towards neorealism, this film specifically highlights Luis Buñuel's humbler days as a filmmaker both in imagery and themes. But being the audacious auteur that he always was, he has successfully combined the grittiness of social realism with the visual profundity of surrealism. What resulted was a brave, candid and ultimately gut-churning film that emphasizes the sheer decay of youth life in post-war Mexico that's as potent to this day as it was when it was released more than 60 years ago. 

Youth angst, as we all know, is a favorite topic amongst filmmakers. Be it in the context of formal education, societal disconnection or simple case of immature alienation, directors have wallowed in them, sometimes to pretentious extent. But only a few films have really embraced the topic of adolescence with an intention to expose something alarmingly rancid and truthful. One of them is "Los Olvidados". 

Years before "City of God" has rocked the film world with its fearless portrait of youth criminality in the titular Rio de Janeiro neighborhood, "Los Olvidados" has already left a mark in the world of cinema with its intense depiction of spontaneous criminality committed by the most fragile of bodies and the youngest of minds. In every country's underbelly, there are criminals who will steal and kill for money. Luis Buñuel has highlighted the sad fact that among those low-lives are young ones who doesn't even know what's left from right, right from wrong. The truth hurts indeed. 

Generally about the reality of youth criminality, "Los Olvidados" is focused on three facets, represented by three unforgettable characters: El Jaibo (Roberto Cobo) the full-fledged criminal, young Pedro (Alfonso Mejia) the conflicted one, and Ojitos (Mario Ramirez), the kindred boy who got dragged in the middle of it all. With these characters, Buñuel was able to explore the extent of their reality by mixing both hope and despair. Hope that one of them may ultimately choose to escape and lead a better life, and despair that maybe all of them are, after all, futilely treading a path towards a moral cul-de-sac. And between those, there were Buñuel's chickens. 

All throughout the film and even in one of the characters' dream, chickens were ever-present. How do these feathery animals really figure in on the film's whole thematic plateau? "Look into the eyes of a chicken and you will see real stupidity," the great Werner Herzog has stated. Though that is too derogatory a remark, I think that it speaks well for what Buñuel's chickens may ultimately signify in this film. With that blunt statement about chickens, maybe what Herzog mistakes as idiocy, Buñuel sees as naivety. Perhaps it's not stupidity that they represent but innocence. And in every chickens smashed into smithereens (as in the film), it is innocence lost. Maybe that also applies quite well with the notorious chicken sex scene in "Pink Flamingos". 

Back in 1950 when the Mexican government was eager for its citizens to see, feel and sense progress even when it means suppressing truth itself, "Los Olvidados" is incredibly audacious, what with its decrepit portrayal of urban squalor and looming sense of hopelessness. But this, I think, is also an urgent film of terrible necessity because it shows something painfully real. "Los Olvidados", with its timeless statement about impoverished youth life, is one of those truly powerful cinematic creations that constantly remind us that not all children are for the good old sing and dance.


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