Daily Archives: May 21, 2004

Over On The Big Ranch

From the Chicago Reader (May 21, 2004). — J.R.


Directed by Fernando de Fuentes, this popular 1936 feature helped launch a new genre in Mexican movies, the comedia ranchera, which mixed comedy and music in rural settings. It tracks the long-term friendship between a ranch owner (Rene Cardona) and the orphan who becomes his foreman (Tito Guizar); both fall for the same woman (Esther Fernandez), a conflict that’s brought to a head by a kind of musical duel. This is more nuanced than one might expect in the handling of gender and class, and the populist fervor that’s become part of the period flavor is infectious. The graceful cinematography is by the great Gabriel Figueroa, best known for later collaborations with John Ford and Luis Buñuel. In Spanish with subtitles. 100 min.Read more »

Permanent Vacation

The only Jim Jarmusch feature that qualifies as apprentice work is his first (1980), shot in 16-millimeter for a master’s thesis at NYU. Sixteen-year-old drifter Chris Parker plays a version of himself as he walks the decrepit streets of lower Manhattan (the best scene shows him dancing to an Earl Bostic record). Jarmusch has already discovered his milieu, and his interest in both minimalist form and character as plot are already in evidence. But this lacks his characteristic charm, stylistic focus, and feeling for interactions between people, and the slowed-down Javanese gamelan music on the sound track only makes this seem more stodgy and intractable. 80 min. (JR)… Read more »