‘The Chambermaid’ (La Camarista) is a character study of Eve (pronounced E-ve) a young woman who works for housekeeping of a major luxury hotel in Mexico City. We know little about her except for the fact that she has a young child who she speaks to while using the phone at the corridors of the hotel. The film follows her as she cleans these rooms, and is heavy on the details, like scrubbing the tub or brushing the curtains. We see her as aspiring to be more – she caresses the books of the hotel’s visitors, and goes to GED classes provided by the Union. We see sadness in her, but also boredom, as she interacts with co-workers – although it is not explicitly stated, a lesbian tries to woo her, even as she plays with the window washer guy who peeps at her as she cleans rooms. By the end of the film, we feel like we got to know a real person (Gabriela Cartol who plays Eve is a natural) and I bet we will look at hotel housekeeping staff a little differently.
In Bani Koshnoudi’s ‘Fireflies’ (Luciernagas) Arash Marandi plays Ramin, who is from Iran. He somehow ends up in the port town of Veracruz, Mexico after stowing away in a ship (We find out later he has exiled from Iranian jail) In the beginning scenes, we see him negotiating to try to get on another ship, and he says he wants to go to Greece or Turkey. We later find out he is gay, and ha a boyfriend from home he talks to on video. His life is in some kind of limbo- he is staying at a hotel, and is working odd jobs. The film is more slice of life than narrative, as we see his day to day existence, navigating a foreign country and trying to get by as he learns the language and customs. The film could be slow-moving, and shows its indie leanings, but I gave it a little patience and found it rewarding. I was able to see a lot of the hurdles he is facing, and will be facing (we never get a resolution on his plight) and I was glad to see a film about a gay man looking for validation in different facets of relationships.
‘Peyote,’ directed by Omar Flores Sarabia is a 2013 low-budgeted Mexican film that says a lot in its short running time of 110 minutes. It stars two guys who find each other in a park, and go on a road trip to Real de Catorce in Mexico partly to look for the peyote plant – I think the plant has drug connotations – but along the way we also learn a little bit of historical information about the real. It is one of those ‘two-ships-passing-in-the-night’ kind of stories wherein the characters get to know a lot more about themselves as they get to know each other. It’s not a revolutionary movie, but has nice moments and the two leads are appealing to watch. And since it is short, doesn’t require a whole lot of commitment.
The apocalypse is coming. It’s almost the end of the world and this is where ‘Velociraptor’ is set. Directed by Mexican filmmaker Chucho E Quintero, this movie focuses on two friends: Alex (Pablo Mezz) and Diego (Carlos Henry Huber) One is gay, and one is straight. Diego has a girlfriend, and Alex doesn’t do too porly himself, as we see a montage of him getting busy with other guys. But as they walk along these deserted city streets, Alex makes a confession – he is a virgin. Well, on matters of anal sex anyway. He posits a request to Diego: can he do the honors? I mean, the world is ending and everything At first Diego thinks it is a joke, but he realizes Alex is serious. He doesn’t answer yes or no right away. but keeps him hanging, and the audience is as well, which makes for great tension (sexual and otherwise) for the two young men. Will they or won’t they.
I won’t spoil what happens but is poignant, and very telling, and is a refreshing take on a situation that you thought you are able to predict. And it makes us think of how one lands on the Kinsley scale, and whether that position is flexible or not. Mezz and Huber have great chemistry, and even as you see that their characters are not lovers, you can sense a great sense of intimacy between them. The doom and gloom scenario is played a bit too melodramatically and kind of distracts from the message, but I get why Quintero used it. This film is quite interesting, and I bet it will make you think.