Mexperimental Cinema, Program 4: Mexicanidad | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Mexperimental Cinema, Program 4: Mexicanidad

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This program, the last in a series surveying Mexican experimental cinema, deals rather sketchily with Mexico's national identity, but Ruben Gamez's dense, subversive essay film La formula secreta (1965) remains a shocking and richly allusive statement. Devoid of narration, set to Vivaldi, Mozart, and Stravinsky, its potent images and visual metaphors attack Yankee consumerism, Mexico's sacred cows, and the insidious influence of Coca-Cola and other multinationals. Climaxing with a recited text by Juan Rulfo--a prayer of the poor peasants and urban workers--the film exhorts all Mexicans to overcome stoicism, fatalism, and submissiveness, traits they themselves regard as a national curse. The film was a prizewinner in Mexico's first Concurso de Cine Experimental, which was meant to shake Mexico's commercial film industry from its slumber; the festival was repeated twice, ushering in the "golden age" of Mexican avant-garde cinema, yet the American-trained Gamez wouldn't make another important film for almost 30 years. On the same program: Simon of the Desert (1965), the last film shot in Mexico by Luis Buñuel, and Corazon sangrante (1995), Ximena Cuevas's wonderfully kitschy music video for a medley of ranchera songs in which the lovelorn find solace in flagellant saints and the bleeding heart of Mary. Copresented by Kino-Eye Cinema. Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, 1852 W. 19th St., Thursday, May 27, 7:00, 773-384-5533 or 312-738-1503. --Ted Shen

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): film still.

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