5 Argentine Movies for a Lazy Sunday

Posted on November 22, 2014 by Kevin Vaughn in MUSIC & VIDEOS

Article by Kevin Vaughn.

Sunday, November 3rd. 2pm.

It’s raining gatos y perros outside (no one actually says that but shhhh). The streets are flooded enough to discourage any ideas about going outside even if it’s just to cross the street to grab something from the market. My fifth umbrella this year broke last night (duh) and I’m beginning to believe that the Argentine umbrella market is doing it on purpose (kidding, I totally think the Argentine umbrella market is doing it on purpose). The only thing in my refrigerator is a whole lot of nothing: a leftover slice of pizza and enough Cindor to fill up a quarter of a cup (breakfast is covered), some lettuce, a disturbing amount of condiments and a jar of peanut butter with nothing to spread it on (lettuce?).

How will you ever survive the zombie apocalypse with this sort of foresight, Kevin?

It’s fine, it’s fine just have a slice of calabresa and take small sips of Cindor and coffee and read the…goddamnit the internet is down. Screw it, go back to bed. 

Sunday, November 3rd. 3:30pm.

Yep, still raining. It’s moments like these that I look at my cat and kind of wish we could trade places. There is something enviable about being able to sleep for 20 hours a day. As I sit at my desk typing away she is currently burrito-ing herself into the warmth of my favorite blanket. Luckily, I have an absurd stockpile of movies just for this occasion, I may not survive the zombies but I will at least be able to marginally entertain myself until they break my door down. Here are five of my favorite Argentine movies categorized by mood that you can enjoy on a lazy Sunday (rain optional).

Let me preface by getting the big movies that we all already know about out of the way. Nueve Reinas, El secreto de sus ojos, Un novio para mi mujer and La historia oficial. All four are spectacular movies in their own unique ways. If you haven’t seen them all, get out from underneath that rock and check them out. Likewise, if you have the gall to actually go to the movies on a lazy Sunday, you should really, seriously, without a single doubt check out Relatos salvajes. But for all my lazies out there, a few Argentine gems: 

The ‘That’s So Porteño’ Movie: El Abrazo Partido

What it means to be porteño is all a matter of perspective. Ask a foreigner, and you’re most likely to hear passionate (I will bet money that if a poll was taken this word would be heard 10/10 times) assertive, quick witted, a little eccentric and completely unfiltered. For those in the same camp, El abrazo partido is your movie. This is a quirky story about Ariel (Daniel Hendler), who desperately wants to move to Europe and start fresh. The movie takes place entirely in the Once neighborhood where Ariel runs a lingerie shop with his mother in a galeria full of enormous personajes. The movie is directed by Daniel Berman in a style that feels like the marriage of Christopher Guest and Woody Allen.

You can watch the whole movie with English subtitles here. 

The ‘This is Argentina’ Movie: El Estudiante

Now ask someone what it’s like to live in Argentina and you’ll most likely get an entirely different story. El estudiante represents the other side of the coin. Santiago Mitre’s film won the Special Jury Prize when it was released at the 2011 BAFICI for his calculated character study of Roque, a student at the UBA School of Social Sciences who quickly ascends the political ladder within UBA’s complicated political system. The movie is a quiet battle between the idealistic and dedicated students that want a better school and the treacherous political influencers that are interested in positions of power.

The ‘Order a Tub of Ice Cream and Get The Tissues Out’ Movie: Garage Olimpo

This list wouldn’t be complete without a movie about the Dirty War. I’ve already mentioned La historia oficial (which you can watch here without subtitles). Cautiva is another wonderful film. Both films explore the stains left behind by la Guerra sucia as two women re-evaluate their sense of identity when they are abruptly confronted by the truths of the society they live in. En cambio, Garage Olimpo throws us head first into the reality of the Dirty War. It tells the story of Maria, a young political activist who is kidnapped and tortured in a detention center in the middle of the city. The movie is heavy for lack of a better word; director Marco Bechis’ camera is unrelenting and violent, and the dichotomy of beautiful cinematography and score versus the dark and brutal reality of the dictatorship makes Garage Olimpo that much more affecting.

You can watch the movie sans subtitulos here.

The ‘I Can’t Handle Thinking’ Movie: La Antena

Now for something a little lighter. You may have gotten home at 6am. And maybe you woke up at 2 (or 4pm). You just missed the lunch delivery window (and are clearly not going outside) and need something simple to pass the time before you can order that pizza. I got your back: La antena. Don’t feel like listening to Spanish? No worries because this movie is silent, mostly. Esteban Sapir’s movie tells the story of a town that has lost their voices and the maniacal TV executive that wants to destroy words all together. The world of La antena is whimsical and inventive, like a fairy tale pop-up book brought to life.

You can watch the movie here. No subs necessary, because, well, it’s a silent movie.

The ‘I Know This Is Cheating’ Movie: Happy Together

 Or maybe it’s not cheating. I don’t care. Happy Together tells the story of two impoverished gay men from Hong Kong that work in a tango bar in San Telmo and live in a flophouse in La Boca. This is a story that has never been told before on the screen but is a reality in this city that certainly exists. The movie was filmed by Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai and is led by acting superstars Tony Leung and the late Leslie Cheung. The movie doesn’t set out to be a social commentary about being gay, or being an immigrant, or being poor in this city, but oddly enough, this foreign produced film portrays all of those realities with more authenticity than many local directors have. For fans of Wong Kar-wai, this is a must see.

You can watch the movie with subtitles here.


One Comment

  1. Great list, Kevin! Glad you didn’t leave out Happy Together.

    To add some of my favorites, a lot of them with gay characters or themes, but not all:

    Muerte en Buenos Aires, which was just released, is kind of a homocomic film noir.

    Any movie by Marco Berger, who makes the sexiest movies around, but I especially like his shorts, El primo being the best, the sexiest and the funniest.

    Glue, a completely improvised collaboration between the director and his actors, about young love, I guess. Doesn’t take place in Capital, which is refreshing and its style reminds me of Gus Van Sant.

    Rapado, very droll and subtle comedy directed by Martín Rejtman. For me, this is the most porteño movie I’ve seen, and it’s none of the things you mentioned as being porteño.

    Any movie by Lucrecia Martel, but particularly her first, La Ciénaga and La mujer sin cabeza.

    La león, directed by Santiago Otheguy, one of the most beautiful Argentine films I’ve seen, shot in black and white in the Parana Delta, gives you a hint of what it’s like to be a gay man in a small river town in Argentina.

    Crónica de un niño solo, which is director Leonardo Favio’s stab at French new wave and it’s gorgeous.

    Lisandro Alonso’s Liverpool, Los muertos and La libertad. Argentine cinema of contemplation.

    Finally Edgardo Cozarinsky’s Ronda noctura, which depicts the fantastic adventures of a Buenos Aires taxi boy on the night of All Saints Eve and the morning of All Souls Day.


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