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Post Tenebras Lux [Blu-ray] (Bilingual) [Import]

 Unrated   Blu-ray

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Product Details

  • Format: NTSC, Import
  • Language: English, French, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Strand Home Video
  • Release Date: Dec 10 2013
  • ASIN: B00GU05MXE

Product Description

Format: Blu-ray UPC Code: 712267330935 Release date: May 1, 2013 Studio: Strand Releasing Genre: Drama, French w/ Eng. Subtitles Runtime: 100 min. Cannes Film Festival

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Surreal Mexican Puzzler: An Exploration Of The Darkness Inherent In Us All Aug. 2 2013
By K. Harris - Published on Amazon.com
The Mexican art house endeavor "Post Tenebras Lux" is a film that is likely to polarize viewers. While some will instantly proclaim it an avant garde masterpiece, others will be perplexed by its rather cryptic nature. Filled with stagnant shots, non-linear story telling, and even an odd demon or two, you will be clued in very early on whether this movie will appeal to your sensibilities. Evoking the strangeness of David Lynch and the dreaminess of Terrence Malick, I'm still not sure what I was supposed to get out of Carlos Reygadas' puzzler. While he certainly seems to be speaking to the darkness inherent in us all, I don't seem to be bright enough to take away some profound notion or meaning about the way he views the world. The Cannes Jury, however, had no such qualms awarding Reygadas with the Best Director prize at the 2012 ceremony. Combining surreal moments with moments that were almost too real in their mundane observances, the film twists all over itself. And though I might not have loved "Post Tenebras Lux," it was a challenge that I was happy to undertake. Individual shots can be quite spectacular, and certain sequences are disturbing and unforgettable.

With the literal translation of "Light After Darkness," the film is decidedly more dark than light. An upscale family moves to the countryside to begin a simpler existence. The local community is skeptical of the new residents, and the solitude can be taxing on a couple raising two young children. While we get to know many of the locals, the movie is primarily concerned with the ups and downs of Juan (Adolfo Jiménez Castro) and Natalia (Nathalia Acevedo) and their kids. The movie shoots back and forth through time and we see the children at various ages. Throughout, we see a family struggling to connect with both good times and bad. Both Juan and Natalia have doubts that test their relationship and resolve, but they aren't afraid to explore some of the seamier elements that drive their personalities and sexuality. Certain moments can be incredibly frank and in-your-face, others can have an incredible sweetness. For me, the movie was a mass of contradictions (just like life). A shocking act of violence, however, really puts things into perspective.

The style of filmmaking that Reygadas employs really did remind me of Malick. Many of the shots are incredibly stagnant, they just peer at a scene from one vantage point and let the action unravel (even when there's no action). This methodical pacing, the great stretches of quiet and inactivity, are juxtaposed with some more visceral elements. We spend much time in a child's dream, we take explicit excursions into sexual experimentation, we experience unexpected bursts of violence, and we even visualize aspects of that can be construed as supernatural (although they are merely metaphorical). And as Reygadas plays with the medium of film, you never know quite where he'll take you next. The film becomes pretty grounded by the end, but the last surreal sequence pulls you right back into the world of unreality. As I said, I didn't particularly love "Post Tenebras Lux," but I admired a lot of it. Ultimately, though, it is an experience that connected more with my brain than with my heart. KGHarris, 8/13.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An astonishing film - that washes through you like a dream (or perhaps a nightmare - but it is unsettlingly lovely) Sept. 28 2013
By Nathan Andersen - Published on Amazon.com
One way to travel through a foreign country is to hire a tour guide. Sit in a bus and look on as the sights pass you by; occasionally disembark and follow someone around who explains what you're seeing, and then, in a few "safe" places wander around freely to shop. When you're done you've seen something, but remain yourself, essentially untouched and unchanged. Another way is to throw yourself in, hope to find your way, maybe get lost, or get drunk in a local dive and wake up not knowing where you've been.

Most films compare to the first approach to tourism. You get to look on, concerned, from a safe distance, as lives unfold on the window in front of you. You walk out, throw away the popcorn box, and you're done with it. Just a pleasant memory, or a vague sense of dissatisfaction, or an eagerness to take the ride again. Post Tenebras Lux (latin for "after darkness, light") is more like the other approach. If you try and make sense of it all together as it unfolds, it won't work. There's no clear distinction between what's real and fantasy, dream and waking life, past and present, possibility and actuality. Yet you get a feel for a place and a time, and a set of tensions between rich and poor, between rural and urban Mexico, between the longing to be decent and the longing to feel something. I don't think you can walk away unchanged. I think it's only afterwards, in the aftermath, that you can really assess the experience and begin to say what it was.

As far as plot goes, it is, primarily, an impressionistic depiction of two men who are fighting their own demons, that hints at the impact on their wives and children, and at their impact on each other. There is Juan, married to the beautiful Natalia, with two lovely children played by the director's own kids. For reasons unknown, they moved away from their extended family, into a gorgeous rural setting where they live much larger than the locals, but on a much smaller scale than the opulent lifestyle they'd obviously grown up in. He can't quite see what he has, he wants something else, and has a rage inside of him he pretends is not such a big deal but that he can't quite deal with. Then there is Siete, a proud but impoverished man, a man whose hatred for his father and whose struggles with addiction led to the loss of his family. He makes ends meet by taking on odd jobs, some not so savory.

The images are intensely lovely. They shot them somehow so that there is a kind of fisheye distortion at the edges combined with a double exposure - and that might seem like a gimmick but it works here and the impact is almost magical. (Like the "vertigo" shot that Hitchcock made famous: it works but maybe only in one film, and when the filmmakers know precisely the impact aimed for.) It makes the whole seem like a dream. (I think for full impact you should only watch this on a very large screen and in a darkened room. Don't even think of watching this on a phone.) It opens on a shot of a child, Rut, wandering a wet field with cows and horses and dogs running around her, and as the sky darkens we hear thunder and see lightning. I won't say more about the imagery except that there are some of the most astonishing cinematic images here I've ever encountered. For that alone, and for the beauty of the landscape (contrasted with the darkness of souls to create a feeling of the sublime in the classical Romantic sense) this is worth watching.

The scenes are not quite chronological, as there are flashbacks and flash forwards and dreamscapes that aren't sharply differentiated from the "real" moments -- and some of the flash forwards suggest possible rather than actual futures, as they seem to be incompatible with events that apparently unfold in the "present" of the film. The effect is not so much to tell a story as to deliver an experience - a feeling for a tension between different ways of being, and especially for different ways of being detached, unhinged from the wonder all around. There's a magical scene in which Juan seems to see this for the first time, to wonder at the beauty of his children, to long for the moments of possibility when as a child he was untouched by and unaware of the pain felt by the grownups around him. His wife, Natalia, is at the piano, playing Neil Young's incredible ode to childhood, to a hopeful past that may have never been: "it's a dream, it's only a dream ... and it's fading now, fading away, it's only a dream, just a memory without anywhere to stay." This film may seem something more like a nightmare -- it is dark -- but there is light. I found it to be quite an astonishing experience, and one of the most affecting films I've seen in a very long time.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars random and sometimes beautiful Dec 23 2013
By Paul Donovan - Published on Amazon.com
This is really not much more than a random collection of scenes from a man's life in the hills of Mexico. Many of them are autobiographical; it's an account of things that happened to director Carlos Reygadas.

But there is also an element of the fantastic that pops up here and there. So we have things like a girl wandering in a field, a demon moving into a house, a rugby match, a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, a sex spa, and other disconnected events.

There are some individual scenes that are very well done, and fascinating to watch. They touch on such deep life truths that you can only stare in awe.

Then there are other scenes that are pretty damn boring.

The movie is so "artistic" that it almost implodes. It is filmed in a 4:3 aspect ratio, like an old-fashioned TV. There is also a distortion effect around the edges of the screen, like you're looking through a window or something.

In the end, the only person that can really relate to what's going on is probably the director himself. And he's not explaining anything.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "It's only a dream, fading away... Aug. 27 2013
By Eileen Corder - Published on Amazon.com
...just a memory without anywhere to stay." This refrain from a song by Neil Young (and the only song in the film) just about sums up Post Tenebras Lux. Time goes backwards, forwards, through dreams and memories and fantasies, with little anchor. The film opens with Rut, the toddler-sister, in a kind of Eden which offers the lush visuals you expect from Reygadas. Later, in an absolutely transformative scene, Natalia, the mother, goes from being the object of ritual sex to the bearer of birth pains in so short a time and with no definable cut that one feels entertained by a magician. Juan, the father, and Eleazar, the son, get jumbled up as generations roll on making it impossible to place a protagonist. The Devil is a wild card I dare not touch. But, the Wealthy and the Poor, all these players, their obsessions and addictions, for what they are worth, all pale and quickly fade beside the exquisite beauty and simple power of nature. Juan's last speech seems to be the only human sighting of light, catching the brilliance of life.

Far less startling, and certainly not cathartic like his masterpiece Silent Light, Reygadas' story-telling style in Post Tenebras Lux is more in keeping with his earlier films. Shot in Mexico, and in parts of Europe, with many scenes photographed with a dizzying, distortion effect at the edges, one feels caught in a core sample of international films and in a dream. And considering the coda, I can understand a little why people booed at the screening at Cannes. A playing field crumbling to the elements is perhaps not a ruined Cathedral cradling the Russian countryside as in Nostalghia. But, the visual poetry is there along with the camera's patience to see things as they are. I'm happy to say that because of Reygadas and a few others, cinema did not die with Tarkovsky.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A tree falls in a forest. But does it make a sound? March 5 2014
By Olly Buxton - Published on Amazon.com
I enjoyed Carlos Reygadas’ last film, Luz Silenciosa (Silent Light), though much more in the week following its screening than in the theatre itself. With hindsight, I believe I judged it harshly in my review.

I wonder whether I’m about to do the same thing again.

Reygadas’ output is industrial-strength art-house: You need to pack a soft cushion, an imaginative frame of mind, and to have put your disbelief in colloidal suspension. You must stand ready to invent, apply and discard as many narrative hypotheses as it takes to find one which will help you make sense of what you’re seeing.

With Luz Silenciosa, a film about a love triangle in a Mennonite community, I found one, if late in the piece: the idea that the camera itself is an intruder in the private world of the drama, necessarily intervening with what goes on. This was conveyed through continual reminders of the presence of a lens throughout the film, through rain-spots, sun flares, window frames and, on one occasion during a highway storm seen through a windscreen, all three.

The very act of observation irreparably changes the dynamic of the situation: only when someone is there to hear it, does a tree falling in a forest make a sound.

In Post Tenebras Lux (After Shadows, Light) we are, again, permanently aware of the camera, this time because Reygadas has, selected an almost insolently square aspect ratio and applied a lens which refracts, blurs and distorts the fringes of the picture. We feel as if we are inside a box brownie, or perhaps inside a dream.

A dream: Now there’s a narrative hypothesis that might help.

A fashionable term for this screenplay is non-linear; another way of describing it is all over the place. We open with a toddler happily chasing cows and dogs around a wet football field at dusk as a brutal storm rolls in. It is quite an opening scene (as striking as, yet as different as could possibly be from, the sublime opener of Luz Silenciosa). The film principally concerns a couple and their two children, Rut and Eleazar (played by Reygadas’ own children), whom we meet at several points during their childhood. Much of it is spent in remote Mexican woodland country, where the family has an uneasy relationship with each other, their animals, and labourers who steal, drink, smoke pot, vandalise trees and convene AA meetings in a corrugated iron shed.

Wait – falling trees! As if to validate my tentative theory, we see labourers maliciously sabotaging trees, deep in the Mexican rainforest, hacking part way through their trunks, only for them to fall, later, when no-one but the all-seeing, fish-eyed camera lens is there. It sees, and hears, so we do. We change everything. George Berkeley would be pleased.

Beyond the Mexican bush, the scenes seem wilfully disconnected. Wealthy city folk at a Christmas party argue the toss between Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. At a distance, the family gambols in the surf, and mid-scene, the children regress ten years to toddlers. A couple of scenes take place, apropos absolutely nothing, on a rugby field in England. There is a long orgy scene in a French Sauna which manages to be faintly comical and decidedly menacing at the same time.

I don’t pretend to have fathomed this film at all. But some impressions are forming, and by the end of the week I might have a theory about it. For the time being these ideas coalesce, like dream sequences in a box brownie:

There are threats all around us, natural, man-made and self-made. They thunder from the heavens and rise up from the ground. They emanate equally from our servants and our masters. Our own view is necessarily purblind; we are boxed in, constrained to see the world in terms dictated by our biology and our own distorted preconceptions. Yet, amongst all this, we remain exuberant, and confident, and out of angst, pain and loss comes vitality, love and advancement. Even as it ends, life goes on.

This may all be summarised in a passage from War and Peace, quoted rather obnoxiously at that dinner party:

"Pierre had learned, not with his mind, but with his whole being, his life, that man is created for happiness, that happiness is within him, in the satisfying of natural human needs, and that all unhappiness comes not from lack, but from superfluity."

I’m not sure. This time next week, I may have figured it all out.

Olly Buxton

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