Hopeless Fear, Fearless Hope

A decade ago I stumbled out of an Edinburgh cinema during that city’s inviting and kaleidoscopically diverse film festival (this year's edition takes place from June 19th-30th), gut-wrenched, stomach-punched, spirit-elevated and, I still believe, changed. I had just seen Japon, the debut feature from Mexican filmmaker Carlos Reygadas. I had followed Japon's protagonist through his own existential crisis, wandering back to a mountainside village, preparing to die, experiencing love, and falling into fate. It was one of the most physically imaginative films I'd ever seen; the perfect fusion of music and image, the simplicity of observation, the experience of being provoked to consider my own life paralleled how I'd felt on first seeing 2001: A Space Odyssey, I thought I'd found a new favorite director. I was wrong. After seeing Reygadas' follow up work - especially Battle in Heaven and his most recent work Post Tenebras Lux - I realize that he's an example of a magnificent artist, but I can't make friends with his films. They're too close for comfort. He wants to show us the world as it is, which for him means eating and sleeping and bleeding and being afraid and making love in a far messier and more revealing way than the gauzy fake romanticism that most movies consider adequate to the task of representing love.

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