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Alejandro Ferretis , Magdalena Flores , Carlos Reygadas    R (Restricted)   DVD

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars bleak but full of life and introspection March 6 2006
By Aaron Myers - Published on Amazon.com
The movie is somewhat disturbing, very raw, very artistic.

A weary man (with a love of art) from the city goes to the country seeking serenity, and then to end his life. He observes country folk, adults and children, and is initially pretty numb to it all. Over time he seems to soften and cannot bring himself to commit suicide. He observes some of the simplest animalistic and human instincts. Taking a couple of chances to experience a bit more before he ends his life shows him how his actions may have affected others. Be warned, there is some sexual footage in this film that is not for the squeemish!
18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing movie! Dec 11 2004
By Joan Martorelli - Published on Amazon.com
This movie is original, powerful, and unconventional. A nameless man, an artist, comes to a remote, primitive Mexican mountain village to seek solitude and to commit suicide. He finds lodging in the barn of Ascen, a kind, generous, non-judgemental woman in her 80s. Whe Ascen's criminal gang of relatives threaten to destroy her barn for the cement blocks with which it is made, the man begins to regain a raison d'etre. The relationship between the man and Ascen is complex. Trust and love build between the two, primarily, due to Ascen's quiet, unswerving kindness and concern for the man. She shelters and feeds him, and he attempts to challenge the relatives who wish to destroy her barn. Ascen tells the man that losing her barn is not a problem for her; her relatives need the blocks more than she does. She has an uncanny sense of separating what is truly important from material issues.

The movie should not be explained further. It is for the audience to savor. There are scenes in this film which I have never seen performed so explicitly. The last scene cannot be shaken from my memory. The pace of this movie is often painfully slow, and dialog is sparse. The harshnes and glare of the land is emphasized in the overexpoed look of the film. You can feel the heat, desolation and hopelessness of the landscape. Yet Ascen's unquestioning kindness and charity prevail amidst drunkenness, poverty and the outrageous theft of her property. What is important is kindness, charity and love. I loved the structural simplicity of this film, and the ontrasting ccomplexities of the relationship between Ascen and the artist. When the movie ends, one has the feeling of having moved further toward understanding the nature of love

This is a remarkable first film by a new director. WOW!!!
12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a new director Carlos Reygadas on the horizon Oct. 31 2004
By A. Rettig - Published on Amazon.com
A handsome middle age arthritic painter travels to a remote

part of Mexico to commit suicide.

He seeks refuge from a lonely lady in her mid eighties who

is being cheated out of her home by relatives where the

painter is staying.

The painter and the old lady become close and sex follows,

difficult for the camera and the actors and viewers of this film.

(I assume)

No American film could ever film this and if they could,it

would not be with this realism.
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A failed attempt at an "art" film... Oct. 3 2008
By Grigory's Girl - Published on Amazon.com
I should like this film, but I don't. It has a lot of qualities I admire in films. Long takes, ambiguity, excellent, widescreen photography, yet, I can't help but think that the director read a book on "how to make an art film", which listed the above techniques, and then made this film (and threw in 2 horses screwing and a man making love to an 80 year old woman). I found this almost a hodgepodge of art house cliches. This film doesn't seemed to have evolved organically or naturally, like the films it emulates (like the work of Tarkovsky, which this film has been compared to). It feels like a carbon copy of an art film. Like I had said in a previous review of Bruno Dumont's 29 Palms and Gus Van Sant's Gerry, there seems to be a lot of posers out today making "slow, ambiguous" films in an attempt to be arty. They try to emulate the masters (like Tarr, Tarkovsky, and Jodorowsky), but they miss the point. Art is a mysterious process, coming out when you least expect it. There's no formula. I think it says more about our culture when a filmmaker makes a film like this with all the "art film" elements there, there's a tendency to rush out and automatically declare it a masterpiece. This is misguided and foolish thinking. A work of art must connect on a much deeper level. Just because it resembles a work of art doesn't make it one. This film is not completely worthless, as there is some good camerawork and the setting is beautiful, but I found the whole exercise superficial and shallow.
7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Portrait of a painter March 18 2006
By LGwriter - Published on Amazon.com
Another great Tartan Video release with a terrific in-depth interview with the film's director, Japon (Spanish for "Japan") is a resonant film whose title, says director Carlos Reygadas, is meant to symbolize the rising sun--i.e., the renewal of life.

Most of the characters in the film are non-professional actors and this is certainly true of the two leads, a late 50s-year old artist who says he wants to commit suicide, and the 80s woman he eventually stays with, in a completely isolated mountain village in Mexico.

As is true for the best Westerns, the land is a major character here and Reygadas manages, with his keen and skillful eye, to fuse the broad vista of what could be called a "soft" mountainous terrain with a growing sense of innocence on the part of the painter who, coming from a city (likely Mexico City), begins to feel the effects of a rural life in how he sees things, thinks about things, understand things.

The culminating scene of a sexual encounter is a powerful one--startling, completely unexpected, and all the more emphatic of the film's theme, as stated by the director, on the basis of that very intensity.

Sometimes what you think you want is not what you actually do--because it is not what you really want. Sometimes you discover that what you thought you wanted was less than what life means to you. And so you then do what life really means you to do--your life. It's your choice.

Japon succeeds brilliantly because its simplicity--which is no doubt what the director was striving for--penetrates our thinking hearts, our feeling minds. A man, a much older woman, the land.

See it.

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