Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Colossal Loneliness at the End of the World

Liverpool (2008) - Alonso
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Alonso's 'lonely man trilogy' (as it was termed before Jauja), concludes with Liverpool. Same thin guideline here - a man named Farrel who works on container ship takes a trip to Ushuaia, a southernmost tip of Patagonia, where he was born. He hasn't seen his mother for years, and he wants to visit.

Just like all of Alonso's lone protagonists exhibit basic human needs - eating, sleeping, sex (or release). The colossal loneliness we feel in these characters in unforgiving environments remind me of Herzog's films. But unlike nature fearing protags in the Barbarian filmmaker's films, Alonso's peeps thrive, like ants or seem very comfortable in their surroundings.

Alonso does something different in Liverpool, there is a daring focus shift when Farrel gets to his destination. His frail dying mother doesn't recognize him and he is left with a semi-retarded sister/daughter. Again, there is a memento mori, a Liverpool keychain he leaves with the retarded girl.

Alonso is trying to find something, through each of his films. It might be something transcendental, a reflection of human nature, frailty, loneliness.... I am just mesmerized by all of it.

A Thin Line Between Savagery and Civilized

Los Muertos (2003) - Alonso
Screen Shot 2021-04-22 at 11.50.40 AM The film opens with whirling camera in the lush jungl- trees, leaves going in and out of frame. Then it reveals dead bodies of two young men on the ground. Los Muertos's superficial plot concerns Argentino, a good looking, fit, middle aged convict getting released from prison after serving time for killing his two younger brothers. He made arrangement in the pen to find his now grown up daughter. Now released, he needs to take the boat up to where she lives. The film is shoddy on dialog for expository details. And it's shot in the ethno-documentary style - as Argentino prepares for the journey:getting laid, gathering supplies, water, a jug of wine and even some presents, even though he has no idea if his daughter is a grown up or not.

Argentino turns out to be a very able man when it comes to getting his resources in the jungle. His swift decisions and confident manners are at first reassuring but rather scary, as in almost animalistic. Then there is violence. Is he some sort of a psycho killer going upstream to wipe out remnants of his family? Alonso reminds us that there is a bridge between this savage man in the jungle and us, as indicated by a child's toy at the end of the film. That nature and civilization is closer than we think. It's a highly adventurous filmmaking and certainly trumps over fake butcheries in the likes of Cannibal Holocaust. Disturbing and thought provoking, Los Muertos proves Alonso to be one of the most adventurous auteur working today.