Saturday, May 30, 2009

Jason watches RUDO Y CURSI

Again, following up on movies I missed at SFIFF. And again, catching up on movies I saw a week ago.

The opening monologue of RUDO Y CURSI repeats the legend that futbol (soccer) was invented when a soldier kicked the severed head of his fallen opponent. And it makes the case that sport is used as a surrogate for war, particularly war between brothers. So the serious deadly business of war is turned into sport, something to play. At least until we start to take the sport so seriously that it turns back into war.

This tension between war and play is what this movie is all about. Not just in it's plot, but in it's making. As for the plot, it's simple--brothers Tato and Beto (nicknamed Cursi and Rudo, roughly translated as "corny" and "rude", and played by Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna) are local soccer stars--Cursi is a striker and Rudo is a goalkeeper. They're discovered by a scout, who first can only take one of them on. In a scene of brotherly confusion Cursi wins a penalty kick that sends him to the pros, even though he really wants to be a rock star more than a soccer star (oh yeah, he does a very corny, very bad Spanish language cover of "I Want You to Want Me"). Eventually, at Cursi's urging, the scout brings Rudo along and gets him work for a different team. For a while they're both stars, but Cursi has women problems and Rudo has gambling problems, and eventually things kind of fall apart for both of them.

As for the movie making, in many ways it's a trifle--a plaything that disguises a war that might never really be more than a plaything anyway. It's light, it's fun, and it's funny, no matter how much the situations (drug lords, mob fixes, brotherly wars) might call for a darker touch. Really, it's about the giants of contemporary Mexican cinema getting together and playing. The Cuarón brothers (Carlos directs, Alfonso produces) re-team with their Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN stars. Alejandro González Iñárritu and Guillermo del Toro come along as producers. And ultimately, the movie might be about no more than some great filmmakers coming together and playing.

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