Lisa Reviews A Cannes Winner: Maria Candelaria (dir by Emilio Fernandez)

The very first Cannes Film Festival was held in 1946.  (The festival was originally schedule to debut in 1939 but the start of World War II put those plans on hold.)  45 films from 18 nations were entered into competition and, when it came time to announce that winner of the Grand Prix (which later became known as the Palme d’Or), the result was a tie.  With the number of films competing, that’s not surprising.  In fact, there have been many ties over the history of Cannes.  What is surprising is that the tie was between a total of 11 films: Brief Encounter, Hets, The Last Chance, The Lost Weekend, Men Without Wings, Neecha Nagar, Red Meadows, Rome Open City, La symphonie pastorale, Velikiy perelom, and Maria Candelaria.

Last night, Jeff and I watched Maria Candelaria on YouTube.

Directed by Emilo Fernandez (who many consider to be the father of the Mexican film industry), the majority of Maria Candelaria takes place in Mexico in 1909, shortly before the start of the Mexican Revolution.  Delores del Rio plays Maria, an indigenous woman who is shunned by the people of her village because her mother was a prostitute.  The corrupt and greedy store owner, Don Damian (Miguel Iclan), is entranced by Maria’s beauty and wants her for himself.  However, Maria loves a poor but honest farmer named Lorenzo (Pedro Armendariz).  Though Maria and Lorenzo want to get married, they find their efforts thwarted at every turn by the jealous Don Damian, with Damien going so far as to shoot the pig that Lorenzo was hoping to be able to sell to have the money to not only marry Maria but also to pay off a long-standing debt that he owed Damian.  When Maria grows ill, Damian spitefully refuses to sell Lorenzo the medicine that she needs.  When Lorenzo breaks into the store and attempts to steal it, he’s sent to prison.  Now desperately needing money to get Lorenzo out of prison, Maria poses for a well-meaning painter (Alberto Galan).  When the villagers find out that Maria is posing, a chain of events are unleashed that lead to tragedy.

After reading all of that, you may be wondering how many bad things can happen to one well-meaning and loving couple.  Nothing seems to go right for Maria and Lorenzo over the course of this film but, at the same time, their love never falters.  They remain innocent, regardless of how much they are wronged by the greedy Damian and judged by the hypocritical villagers.  Though the film focuses more on melodrama and romance than politics, the pro-revolutionary message is easy to see.  The Mexican Revolution, the film argues, had to be fought for the honor of people like Maria and Lorenzo.

It’s all a bit heavy-handed but it’s effectively directed and acted and it’s hard not to get caught up in a film that is so unapologetic about embracing the melodrama.  Delores del Rio was a Hollywood starlet who, tiring of the stereotypical roles that she was being offered, returned to Mexico and made several films with Emilo Fernandez.  She and Pedro Armendariz have a very real chemistry as Maria and Lorenzo and they both bring a certain world-weariness to their parts that prevents Maria and Lorenzo from becoming idealized stereotypes.  Maria and Lorenzo may be optimistic and often naïve but they’re not fools.  They know that life will never be easy.  Visually, the film is full of striking images of the Mexican countryside, which Fernandez portrays as being slowly corrupted by the growth of civilization.

Maria Candelaria was a hit not only at Cannes but also in Mexico.  It’s still regularly cited as one of the best movies to come out of Mexico’s film industry.  Though she eventually tired of working with the moody Fernandez, del Rio would continue to appear in movies in both Mexico and Hollywood.  Fernandez went on to spend several decades as Mexico’s most popular director, before eventually falling out of favor for Luis Bunuel.  Today, most cineastes remember him for playing the evil General Mapache in Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch.

Titans – When Good Shows Go Bad- Review By Case Wright

Who do you blame when a good show goes bad? In this case, I think we can blame Greg Berlanti. Greg is a terrific artist, but he spreads himself too thin, gets distracted, and all of his show go up in smoke after two seasons. I think he just gets bored too easily. Arrow was great the first two and a half seasons, but it started a rapid decline once Greg made 100 different cape shows. Titans follows that pattern as well. The first two season of Titans was some of the greatest television that I’d ever seen. It was realistic, dark, and had humor. The cast was diverse and terrific. The fight scenes looked amazingly real. Not since The Watchmen, could I see myself living in a world with superheroes.

Then Titans, like you’re first real relationship with a person whom you thought about marrying – fell apart when your study session with the blonde outdoorsy girl with the Italian last name took a left turn, your lady found out, and she quickly started dating an event planner with a ponytail.

Anywho, once Alan Ritchson (Hawk) moved on to Reacher on Amazon Prime, the show lost its heart; it stopped being realistic. The worst example of this was casting Jay Lycurgo as Tim Drake. To be clear, he is a good actor, but he’s 100lbs soaking wet. See below.

This character had no superpowers and Tim was knocking out dudes twice his size with one punch. It looked straight up silly. Caped crusader movies are kinda goofy just by having people run around in these weird outfits. This was a bridge too far. His acting is good, but this is an action show- not some IFC thinkpiece about skinny Gen-Z bloggers. When he tried to fight and look tough, I couldn’t help but laugh. It’s just stupid looking and takes you totally out of their world. Don’t waste your time- Greg has clearly moved on and let the laziest writing and casting take over. All of the realism and fun has been drained out of the show with the precision of a surgeon.

“51%” Jonathan Crane develops a fear toxin because that’s what he does. “Home” – we watch Hawk die and the series with him. “Souls” – we see Hawk, Tim, and Donna again, but sadly all 100lbs of Tim Drake doesn’t stay dead- too bad for us. “Troubled Water”, “The Call is Coming From Inside The House”, “Prodigal”, and “Purple Rain” Donna comes back to life and Tim Drake – The hero who no one deserves- saves the day from fear toxin by making it rain lightning or something similarly dumb.

But Case, this review is so short. My response: I didn’t give up on this show, Greg did. There is nothing worthwhile here anymore. Take up a hobby, but don’t watch this show anymore. It’s simply not worth it. Greg, you are loved and have proven to make great television; well, up to 26- 38 episodes of it before you lose that lovin feelin. You’ve lost that lovin feelin could be Greg’s Biography. Greg, try a new song as your spiritual touchstone…Waterfalls are pretty and nice, but if you go chasing them – you lose your greatest love- stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to. Please let’s both not kid ourselves, The Flash and Legends was never going to complement Arrow and my study session was NEVER about the books.

The Great Philosophers TLC knew it best…. Greg, have a listen…..