Machete Language

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Laura Clifford 
Machete Language

Machete Language

Robin Clifford 

Ray (Andrés Almeida, "Y Tu Mamá También") and Ramona (composer Jessy Bulbo) are artistic activists first seen on video singing a song that is a cross between love and revolution as they prepare for a suicide bombing, the climactic and defining moment of "Machete Language."

Backed by producers Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal, feature debut writer/director Kyzza Terrazas presents a unique look at life in Mexico that plays like a cross between "Sid and Nancy" and "Day Night Day Night" with the punk DIY aesthetic of "Border Radio."  The film is tough to take at first, given the non-stop movement and extreme closeups of Cinematographer Christian Rivera's headache inducing camera, but once the demand for agitation settles down, it's hard to look away.

It is curious how much this film has in common with another of Boston's Museum of Fine Arts' New Latin American film series' entries, "Bonsái," from Chile.  Both feature a male writer, a female punk rocker and looming death, yet the films are nothing alike.  This one is grittier and more memorable.

Terrazas looks at the opposing forces which hit people who've reached a certain age without drawing their lines in the sand.  Ramona is a hard partying, post punk rocker who finds herself yearning for a child while Ray vacillates deciding whether to commit to hardcore liberal intellectualism or give in to his bourgeois roots.  The filmmaker uses differing camera styles, tone, pace and music to express the opposing sides of his characters - a little road movie here, a little provocatively cut sex scene there - and proves himself well in control of it all.

Almeida and the inexperienced Bulbo are well matched with expressive, lived in faces the camera loves. Ramona's frustration with Ray becomes our own as he flails about and yet when she makes the decision for both of them, we are unprepared and the fallout is revelatory.


Robin gives "Machete Language" a C.
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