Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|La Leon |
Ws Sub B&W
Actors: Jorge RomĂˇn, Daniel Valenzuela
Director: Santigo Otheguy
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Gay & Lesbian
Deep in the lush river jungles of Argentina, Alvaro lives a solitary existence fishing and harvesting reeds. What sets him apart from the rest of his village is that he is gay. There are no other gay men in his world, his ... more »
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Groundbreaking gay film from Argentina may bore US viewers
Bob Lind | Phoenix, AZ United States | 01/20/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The lush river jungle in the northern part of Argentina is the setting for this award winning 2007 film from that country. The main character is Alvaro, who fishes and cuts reeds for his meager living. Beyond that, he coaches the local successful youth soccer team, and is otherwise a loner, not surprising for a gay man in such an isolated area. Whatever trysts he manages to have are with strangers passing through the area, usually arriving on the area's water taxi, "La León" ("The Lion").
El Turu is the owner and operator of "La Leon," which locals depend upon for their mail and trips to town, which gives him a perceived position of power and influence. He is fiercely hostile to any outsiders who arrive, and has tormented Alvaro as well, having figured out that he was a homosexual. However, whether the setting is a big city in the USA, or a remote jungle village in Argentina, it's still a fair assumption that the person who most vocally opposes gay or lesbian likely does so because he is insecure about his own sexuality.
"La León" is a tough film to rate. It deserves the many awards it has received for its groundbreaking (for Argentina) depiction of an unapologetic gay man, portrayed in a (mostly) positive and non-stereotypical manner. The photography is likely impressive to an art film buff, with its stark, barely-lit black-and-white photography with a slight sepia tone. The director lets his story be told by actions rather than dialogue (which obviously makes the relatively few subtitles easy to follow), leaving long passages in absolute silence while we try to gauge the characters' thoughts. By US standards, this gets more than a bit tedious and boring, the poorly-lit scenes and lack of dialogue make it hard to follow, and the film really doesn't cover any new ground, other than retelling a familiar type of story in a new place. There is also a rape scene that bothers me, not because of the violent act, but due to the reaction of the victim. I can't give it more than three stars out of five.
Not rated for US viewing, but would be a hard "R" due to nudity and sexual situations. DVD has no extras other than trailer (in Spanish) and Scene Selections. Region 1 DVD has English sub-titles, which cannot be turned off."
Isolation and Longing
Amos Lassen | Little Rock, Arkansas | 11/09/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
Isolation and Longing
The Parana Delta is a system of wetlands in the north of Argentina where loner Alvaro lives. He is an outsider among insiders because he is gay but his sexuality is really not an issue except for El Turu, the water-taxi captain who both taunts him and eyes him. There is a continuous struggle between the two and that's what this film is about.
The people of the area make their small livings by harvesting reeds and they are separated from each other by the water there. They are basically confined and to leave the area, they are dependent on El Turu and he is the most powerful man in the area because he owns El Leon, the water taxis. He wields a great deal of influence and he resents outsiders, especially Alvaro that he marks as an outsider because of his homosexuality.
Alvaro, like the others, is a reed cutter and even though his sexuality is kept hidden, El Turu has his suspicions and these are the roots of his hostility toward the man. It turns out that El Turu's anger is actually with himself because of the feelings he has internalized.
The movie is long and tends to bore sometimes because of director Santiago Otheguy's preference for long close ups and little dialog. The actors use their faces to play their parts and the conflict between the two men is shown without them saying much.
What is beautiful about the film is the landscape which dominates the screen. The film is in a kind of sepia tone so that it does not have the feel of a documentary. What we see is a world that no longer has color.
We do feel the alienation of the characters and the movie is primarily one that feels with masculine images--there are few women in it. This is a powerful movie but it does take patience to see it.
For dedicated film watchers.
Alfredo R. Villanueva | New York, NY United States | 06/01/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"First, I gave it 4 stars and not five because of what I felt was an unresolved ending. On the other hand, that ending is consistent with the film's depiction of the misery and tedium of life in one of Argentina's river deltas. American reviewers complain about the lack of content; I must point out members of other cultures not Hollywoodized to the point of stupefaction may find this film quite subtle. It discovers homoerotic desire where one would least expect it: among the lower classes who have little time for anything but the business of surviving. It exposes homophobia as a mask for such desire. And, in a "rape" scene, it turns the tables by having the "rapist" and the "victim" act out their desire for each other. I recommend it, but only for those who have realized that film reflects and critiques culture."