Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Battle In Heaven|
Actors: Marcos Hernández, Anapola Mushkadiz, Bertha Ruiz, Rosalinda Ramirez, Brenda Angulo
Director: Carlos Reygadas
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Marcos (Marcos Hernandez) is the middle-aged chauffeur of Ana (Anapola Mushkadiz), daughter of a Mexican general who amuses herself by working as a prostitute in a high-end brothel. Marcos and his wife (Berta Ruiz) have ki... more »
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Gives "art films" a bad name
Roland E. Zwick | Valencia, Ca USA | 01/29/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Apparently people just aren't much into "faking it" anymore, even when it comes to sex in the movies. The Mexican film, "Battle in Heaven," opens with a graphic scene of a young woman performing oral sex on the main character - and we can clearly see that this is not a simulation (it's also not much of a stimulation given the man involved). I don't know if the various hardcore scenes were actually included in the movie when it played theatrically in the United States in 2006. But they are certainly in the video, and those easily offended by such activity had best be forewarned.
For me, the sex scenes themselves are not the problem. It is the movie as a whole that I object to. For "Battle in Heaven" is a pretentious, arty contrivance that seems to be operating under the assumption - quite rightly perhaps, since the movie ended up on quite a large number of ten best lists last year - that it can earn points with the critical intelligentsia if it can just manage to bore its audience into a state of complete catatonia.
It tells the desultory and languid tale of an overweight, middle-aged chauffeur who wanders in a zombie-like daze around Mexico City wracked with guilt over the fact that he and his wife recently kidnapped a child who ended up dying under their care. During the course of the film, Marcos (Marcos Hernandez) is able to shake himself out of his stupor long enough to have sex with his wife, sex with his boss' daughter and sex with himself while watching a soccer game. The movie is all about the struggle that is being perpetually waged within the Mexican soul between sex and temptation on the one hand and piety, guilt and the obsessive need for redemption on the other. And while this theme is certainly a valid one and is actually developed to some extent in the closing scenes of the drama, the movie itself is far too inert, far too easily sidetracked, and far too underdeveloped to capture our interest."
Disturbing? yes. Riveting? yes.
call me The Avi | "In my dreams I live in California......" | 06/12/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I honestly had no clue what to think after first viewing this film. It begins and ends with graphic sex scenes, and the moral tone is ambiguous at best. After all, our two main characters are a middle-aged kidnapper and a rich girl who sells herself for kicks. At times the pacing is tedious, and it's difficult to tell what the characters are feeling because the range of emotions they display is minimal. Despite all this, I found the whole thing fascinating, and when it was over greatly enjoyed watching it again.
In many ways the film is perplexing. It shows us a riveting and intense slice of life, but that slice is presented with minimal context. We know a kidnapping has occurred and the victim has died, but other than that, no details are forthcoming. We're also never told how the (highly unlikely) relationship between the rich girl and her chauffeur began, but it's obvious that it's complicated, emotional, and passionate. Thematically, this is a film about keeping secrets, and what those secrets can do to us. It also has something to say about sin, redemption, and social distinctions.
This isn't a film for the squeamish, or for those who want the story spelled out for them. But, if you can get past that, it's a film that will draw you in, keep you watching, and keep you thinking long after it's over."
A crude, sobering and disturbing look at present day Mexico
D. Pawl | Seattle | 08/06/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"In BATALLA EN EL CIELO, we are presented with an unflinchingly gritty glimpse into the lives of three individuals struggling with double lives, sexual and social identity in a world that is alternately cruel and nihilistic. Marco (Marcos Hernandez) drives Ana (Anapola Mushkadiz), the wealthy daughter of an influential family. They also confide in one another their deepest and most disturbing secrets. Marco and his wife have kidnapped a young child they are holding for ransom. Ana moonlights as a prostitute, as an escape from her mundane and pampered existence. The two of them have also engaged in trysts kept in secret from their families and the rest of the world. (Which are graphically depicted in the film in a style that can be described as anything but dignified.)
For me, the title of this film, alone, is a great paradox that is left to us audience members to ponder. Is this reference intended to be biblical or cautionary? Just what is it that the characters are battling in heaven? Is it a crisis of consciousness? Are they questioning their own morality (or lack thereof) in the face of relentless alienation? Particularly, for me, the character of the (at times) catatonic Marco is at once pathetic, as he blankly gazes into the distance, as well as poignant. You can hardly call him the "hero" of this story. He is more like the hapless anti-hero. It wasn't so much that I hated him, but, throughout the course of the movie, it was a rare occasion that I felt any connection with him at all, much less the acts that he commits. They are presented as incidental episodes (be they sexual or violent acts). It was very hard for me to form any connection with him or with Ana, nor with any of the other characters in the film.
BATTLE IN HEAVEN has been criticized and earned censorship as well as praise. This is due to the graphic nature of the sex scenes, as well as what has been perceived as an exploitative look at Mexico City and the nature of its people. We see scenes of soccer matches juxtaposed with soldiers doing their militaristic marches, as well as people engaging in detached sexual activity (maybe the better word for this is soul-less).
This is not a film I can easily recommend as a good introduction to Mexican cinema because it unfortunately left me cold and without a sense of any really deep emotion at all nor any deeper insight into the culture that is depicted in it."
World of Reygadas
Kippered Herring | NYC | 04/05/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is Carlos Reygada's second film, and his camera is ceaselessly searching. It investigates the transient murmuring of marching pilgrims, explores the ephemeral traffic of subway corridors, and paces itself to curiously follow the cadence of early morning flag raising ceremonies. It orbits around and inhabits the environment of Marcos, a protagonist so firmly planted to the earth that his crushing personal conflict is barely perceptable on his flaccid expression. Reygadas is desperate to discover the transcendence inaccessible to Marcos, whose only worldly absolve from his sense of shame is to be enveloped by something pure and beautiful - something that obsesses and corrupts him. It is one of the most impressive aesthetic feats in recent filmmaking: every scene (especially the gas station & soccer game sequences) is emotionally engaging. Ignore cries of "pornography" from detractors: there have been plenty of recent films to feature graphic sexual scenes, but Battle in Heaven is a incisive character study, not an empty exercise in exploitation."