viernes, 13 de enero de 2012

Bar "El Chino"

Bar "El Chino" (2004 DVD)
Directed by Daniel Burak
Argentina, 2003
In Spanish with English subtitles

My Argentinophile tendencies notwithstanding,  I'm not sure I would have even wanted to see this movie had I been forced to rely on my own capsule summary for guidance and inspiration.  Good thing somebody else recommended the film to me first!  Martina, a 20-something TV editor, and Jorge, a 40-something independent filmmaker, serendipitously meet at the colorful Bar "El Chino" one night and shortly thereafter decide to combine forces on a low-budget documentary about the historic but down-at-the-heels neighborhood tango bar of the title.  A romantic relationship between the unlikely pair somewhat predictably ensues, only to be suddenly interrupted by Argentina's 2001 economic meltdown.  Is a job overseas worth giving up being happy at home? Whatever you make of the premise, I'm happy to note that this humble little slice of life is way more satisfying and soulful than it sounds.  Leads Jimena La Torre and Boy Olmi have a winning, believable chemistry as the tentative coworkers turned lovebirds, director Daniel Burak takes full advantage of the quasi-documentary nature of the film by including lots of low-fi audio and visual goodness spliced with interviews with fans and performers of the real-life Bar "El Chino," and the ramshackle neighborhood of Pompeya--about as far off the tourist Buenos Aires map as they come despite being one of the birthplaces of tango back in the days of Gardel--emerges as the cultural ground zero for a surprisingly affecting discussion about immigration and emigration, the past and modernity, and how we try and reconcile such forces through the arts.  Not at all the slight romantic comedy that I had feared--or at least it doesn't feel like such a thing when set to the strains of that mournful bandoneón.  (

Jorge Eduardo Garcés ("El Chino")
holding court in front of his famous boliche

Movie Mania
After announcing a year-long "foreign film festival" in the previous post, I found out that Caroline of Beauty Is a Sleeping Cat is also offering her own World Cinema Series moviefest this year.  Please see Caroline's page here for details and please consider participating in both events throughout the year to get your full-on foreign film fix.

4 comentarios:

  1. I have a feeling I heard people talk about this but missed it when it was shown in our cinemas. I'd like to watch it, documentary style, low-fi, quite a few things besides the themes that make it sound good.

    1. I've actually watched this movie two or three times over the years, Caroline, and it has stood the test of time for me. Very warm and engaging--a simple pleasure but a true one nonetheless.

  2. Oh this is a new one to me Richard I think I might look it out I like the low fi Argentina approach to films ,all the best stu

  3. The performance and performer footage is really cool, Stu, and the music and score work perfectly with the storyline (which is touching without being schmaltzy). After having seen a library copy of this several years ago, I was very happy to track down a new copy for myself last year.