Crítica de Pablo Suárez - Buenos Aires Herald

After run in festivals, Favula and Ragazzi will screen in BA at Sala Lugones, MALBA

At the recent edition of the Valdivia Film Festival, maverick Argentine filmmaker Raúl Perrone premiered his new film Samuray-S, a poetic and absorbing take on three stories involving samurais, love, revenge and death. Shot in austere black and white, with heavy traces of expressionism and surrealism, no direct sound, no dialogue and only some subtitles when exactingly needed, Samuray-S proved to be yet another significant turning point in his always innovative body of work. Many Argentines and international guests had a privileged chance to enjoy it recently at the Mar del Plata Film Festival, where it ran in the Latin American Competition.

And while Samuray-S is yet to be released in the Buenos Aires art house circuit, the good news is that Perrone’s previous two films, Favula and Ragazzi, will now be screened at the emblematic Sala Lugones and the MALBA. Favula had its world premiere at last year’s Locarno film festival and was then screened at Mar del Plata, Valdivia, Jeonju, Hamburg, and Viña del Mar, where it won the prize of the International Jury of Critics. Ragazzi was first screened at the Rome Film Festival, and then at the BAFICI, Sao Paulo, Cartagena, Pachamama, and Las Palmas.

You could say that Favula is a surreal, magical film, a poetic fable ... and you’d be dead right. Like Perrone’s latest features, it defies standard synopsis for it mostly belongs to a very personal trend of non-narrative cinema, but not completely since a minimal story is narrated.

So let’s just say that it takes place in an enchanted jungle of sorts, also a sensual and dangerous milieu where the characters find one another, get lost, and then get to meet again. There’s a mean woman (who may be a witch that sometimes turns into a tiger), her wicked husband (a zombie-like character that may be involved with the military dictatorship), two hideous men, a good-looking and pure young man and a pristine teen girl, that is to say the two suffering heroes who make for so much darkness. Eventually, another teen girl comes to their aid.

Soon, the bad guys — the woman, her husband, and the two evil men — do their wicked deeds, the good guys are in danger and a shoot-out ensues. Fortunately, the mysterious surroundings, with its waterfall, storm and rain, protects the pure souls in their frantic escape.

The film was shot entirely inside a studio in an abandoned factory, in alluring black and white and back projection, with very, very little dialogue conveyed in an unidentified language — sometimes with subtitles, other times without them. With a trance-like cinematography that stresses textures, shapes and layers, alongside a continuous yet eclectic musical score, Favula is a work of unique appeal that goes beyond predetermined cinematic boundaries, even those Perrone had set for himself in the past.

Then, there’s Ragazzi. It’s a film narrated in two consecutive movements, which first focuses on the last day in the life of famed Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini, who was brutally murdered under mysterious circumstances on November 2, 1975. A hustler (ragazzo in Italian) was eventually convicted for the murder. It should be noted that Ragazzi doesn’t mean to reconstruct the true facts surrounding Pasolini’s death, but it’s instead a personal interpretation. In fact, Perrone stands on the teenage killer’s side, whom he also portrays as a victim. The second movement exposes, in a meditative manner, some seemingly ordinary moments in the day of a group of young cardboard collectors and a teenage girl after a hard day’s work. As they swim, sunbathe and goof around in the river, they inhabit their own private world where any kind of future is out of sight.

Once again, the dialogue is subtitled, but this time is spoken backwards, as a shimmering black-and-white cinematography envelops it all. As for the musical score, Perrone once again intervenes renowned tunes in instrumental versions. So expect personal versions of Stairway to Heaven, Angie, and Imagine, among others.
As in Favula, inventively superimposed images add up to a loose sense of storytelling and turn the film into more of a dreamlike contemplative cinematic experience than just a movie to be merely watched. In fact, Favula and Ragazzi — and the mind-blowing P3nd3jo5 before them — rework the aesthetics of silent cinema, mainly the auteur works of the 1920s and 30s, deeply admired by Perrone.

When and where
Sala Lugones (Av. Corrientes 1530). Thursday to Sunday at 2:30pm and 7:30pm (Favula), 5pm and 10pm (Ragazzi). MALBA (Av. Figueroa Alcorta 3415). Fridays at 8pm (Favula) and 9:30pm (Ragazzi).