Monday, March 19th, 2012


In 2005 Porfirio
Ramirez Aldana’s
name was splashed across the headlines and on all the
television broadcasts in Colombia for his audacious and foolhardy criminal
act.  What made it even more sensational
was the fact he was a paraplegic in a wheelchair at the time.
In Alejandro
extraordinary new film the details of the incident, which although
being the main reason for its existence, are not revealed until the very last
part of the movie, as in fact Landes makes how Porfirio gets to this point in
his life the central focus of the tale he wants to tell.  The story is very real indeed but rather than film it as a documentary it has been made as a narrative that is part bio-pic
and part cinema verite with the exceptionally inspired idea of casting of Porfirio
to play himself.
The police had shot him in the spine sometime in the
1990’s for a reason that we never learn. 
This small town once successful business owner is now trapped in his shabby home and reliant on his lazy teenage son to help him deal with his daily bodily
functions.  His only source of income now
is selling minutes on his cellphone to people in his poor neighborhood.  The only bright spot in his life is his young
girlfriend with whom he can still manage to have something of a physical
relationship with.
With very sparse dialogue Landes painstakingly films
every minute detail of Porfirio’s day so we get to feel the intense boredom and
frustration that he deals with simply to survive.  The cinematographer has placed the camera deliberately low so the view we get is exactly the same as the one Porifiro can see.  
On a rare trip outside the four square walls
of his small house, Porfirio recklessly maneuvers himself in his wheelchair to
his Lawyers Office as he wants to try and persuade him to actually get moving
on the lawsuit he has filed against the Government for compensation. And then on another day a traveling salesman calls at his house, and Porfirio finds in him a willing accomplice who will help him towards his plan for action.
The fact that it all culminates in the ‘big incident’ is not totally surprising because by that point Landes has ensured that we sympathize with a man struggling hard  to maintain some sort of dignity.  Although I credit the director with this, I should in fact mention that it is Porfiro’s powerful and disturbing performance that makes it so convincing.
The story in itself is completely remarkable but its Landes’s unique vision that made this such a phenomenal movie, and quite unlike anything I have ever seen before.  It … and both Landes and Porfirio are picking up countless awards as it currently does the Film Festival circuit.  MIFF Exec. Director Jaie Laplante classified Landes as a Director to watch ….and as this is his first narrative, I think he is right.


Posted by queerguru  at  02:54


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