REAL WOMEN HAVE CURVES (2002)
“Real Women Have Curves’’ is a cathartic joy. Telling the coming-of-age story of Ana Garcia (America Ferrera), it is about the mothers who seem like they’ll never be satisfied, the fear of not being accepted in your body, and the awkward boyfriend you deserve better than. However, it’s also about concrete fears, things like the rent being a month overdue and the need to work rather than pursue education. But despite these stressors, the film never becomes dismal, rather the opposite. It is a warm portrayal of surviving these challenges and the camaraderie that is shared between the people who experience them together. It is both lovingly specific and widely relatable.
RAISING VICTOR VARGAS (2002)
Adapted from an autobiographical short film by director Peter Sollett, “Raising Victor Vargas” depicts a lovably awkward, masculine, young adulthood. The film surrounds the friends and family of Victor Vargas (Victor Rasuk) and their endearing and occasionally hilarious romantic exploits. It’s sincere, and not at all trite. It’s a movie where none of the characters know exactly what they want, a movie that has no rising action or three-act structure. It’s unafraid to be uncomfortable, but also unafraid to be sweet, and the reward is a movie that is simply human.
“No,” is about the impossible questions. How can you campaign to a people so oppressed that they’ve never been campaigned to by more than one party before? How can you send a message of hope without glossing over unspeakable atrocities? Shot on the crummy old video cameras and in the aspect ratio of 80s commercials, the film is a dramatized depiction of the campaign to convince the Chilean populace to vote “no” to eight more years of the dictator Pinochet using the language of advertising. The film becomes about its inherent contradictions, as Marketing Executive René Saavedra’s (Gael Garcia Bernal) campaign becomes more and more appealing to a populace it does not reflect. In one scene, a basket of baguettes is procured as set dressing for a shoot. But, as the producers point out, no one eats baguettes in Chile.
Before he made it big as a three-time Oscar winning director of films like “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “The Shape of Water,” Guillermo del Toro was an indie horror director working with a modest $2 million budget. The only one of his films produced in his home country of Mexico, “Cronos” revolves around Jesús Gris (Federico Luppi) who accidentally becomes a vampire after finding a centuries-old device. Despite its lower budget and less refined feeling, it’s still distinctly del Toro, more than anything surprisingly violent and audacious. “Cronos” is an eerie, classic horror.