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This Week in Cinema Tropical

This week, The Museum of Modern Art is presenting two classics of Mexican cinema and one recent remake as part of To Save and Project: The 16th Annual MoMA International Festival of Film Preservation.

Running through January 31, the Latin American features kick off this Tuesday with Fernando de Fuentes’ 1934 pioneer The Phantom of the Monastery, followed on Wednesday and Saturday by Russo-Mexican transplant  Arcady Boytler‘s masterwork of expressionistic Mexican popular cinema The Woman of the Port. Both screenings are followed by presentations of Arturo Ripstein‘s 1991 re-make of the same name.

New York Time’s Critic’s Pick The Heiresses– “[An] affecting character study, anchored in Brun’s remarkably vivid and nuanced performance” (The New York Times) — continues its successful theatrical run at Film Forum. Don’t miss the opportunity to see the critically-acclaimed film that brought Paraguay it’s first Silver Bears at this year’s Berlin Film Festival.

And congratulations to the producing team of Alfonso Cuarón‘s Roma in its historic Oscar nominations. The Mexican films is leading this year’s Academy Awards noms including for Best Picture—a first for a Latin American production—, Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actress.



Through Thursday, January 31
The Museum of Modern Art


(The Phantom of the Monastery, Fernando de Fuentes, Mexico, 1934, 85 min.fed In Spanish with English subtitles)
MoMA presents the world premiere of UCLA Film & Television Archive and The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project’s newly restored The Phantom of the Monastery, a pioneering work of Mexican gothic horror. Directed by Fernando de Fuentes, the most versatile filmmaker of Mexican cinema’s early sound period—he is best known for his trilogy of the Mexican Revolution but also made thrillers, costume dramas, and even helped invent the regionally distinct comedia ranchera Western—The Phantom is a wonderfully macabre film about a mad, lascivious monk who insinuates his way into a love triangle. New digital restoration courtesy UCLA Film & Television Archive and The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project, with support from the George Lucas Family Foundation. Film to be introduced by Jan-Christopher Horak, Director of UCLA Film and Television Archive.
Tuesday, January 22, 6:30pm

(The Woman of the Port, Arcady Boytler, Mexico, 1934, 76 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
Based on a story by Guy de Maupassant, the tragic tale of incest and prostitution Woman of the Port (1934) is a masterwork of expressionistic Mexican popular cinema by Arcady Boytler, who wrote, directed, and starred in films in his native Russia, associating with Sergei Eisenstein, before making films in Chile, Germany, and finally in Mexico. On January 23, the contemporary Mexican filmmaker Arturo Ripstein introduces this version, as well as his own 1991 adaptation. Film to be introduced by Arturo Ripstein on 1/23. 
Wednesday, January 23, 4pm and Saturday, January 26, 1:30pm

(The Woman of the Port,Arturo Ripstein, Mexico, 1991, 110 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
To Save and Project welcomes the Mexican writer-director Arturo Ripstein, who on January 23 presents a new restoration of his overlooked melodrama The Woman of the Port, a tawdry tale of the docks adapted from a short story by Guy de Maupassant and told from three perspectives. The film involves the incestuous affair between a cabaret prostitute and her long-lost sailor brother, and the mother that tries to come between them. On January 23, Ripstein also presents Arcady Boytler’s 1934 adaptation of the same Maupassant story. New digital preservation courtesy the filmmaker.
Film to to be introduced by Arturo Ripstein on 1/23.
Wednesday, January 23, 6:30pm and Saturday, January 26, 4pm



Opens Friday, January 24
Select Theaters


(Frank Perozo, Dominican Republic, 2018, 93 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)

Nicole and Jose Miguel come from very different León families. Hers is wealthy and well-to-do. His is more humble and less well-off. And it’s all been going just fine until Nicole’s father becomes intent on breaking them apart, going so far as recruiting Jose Miguel’s own father (whom he can’t stand) to bring in their kids’ exes to drum up a break-up. The sunny honey-colored cinematography, which showcases the colorful vistas of the DR, is the backdrop to this star-crossed lovers story that plays like a big-screen telenovela.



Wednesday, January 23, 6:45pm
Quad Cinema


(Eduardo de Gregorio, Portugal/France, 1982, 96 min. In French with English subtitles)

Argentine filmmaker Eduardo De Gregorio and screenwriter Michael Graham’s second take on Henry James’ work is an adaptation of The Aspern Papers. Affirming the universality of James’ worldview, the story is transposed from 19th-century Venice to 20th-century Lisbon as Jean Sorel puts the moves on shy Bulle Ogier to get at her dowager aunt Alida Valli’s storied cache of poems from a famous lover.



Thursday, January 24, 7:30pm


In this installment of the series, Dominican artist and performer Joiri Minaya will present her research on tropical pattern design and its roots in exploration, exploitation and labor, and how this history continues through rampant capitalist tourism in the tropics. In this multidisciplinary event, the artist shifts the gaze from a historic colonial one to a contemporary perspective of a woman of color. Minaya will be joined for conversation following the presentation by Curator Mathilde Walker-Billaud.



Now Playing
IFC Center


(Alfonso Cuarón, Mexico/USA, 2018, 135 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)

In Alfonso Cuarón’s autobiographically inspired film, set in Mexico City in the early ’70s, we are placed within the physical and emotional terrain of a middle-class family whose center is quietly and unassumingly held by its beloved live-in nanny and housekeeper (Yalitza Aparicio). The cast is uniformly magnificent, but the real star of Roma is the world itself, fully present and vibrantly alive, from sudden life-changing events to the slightest shifts in mood and atmosphere. Cuarón tells us an epic story of everyday life while also gently sweeping us into a vast cinematic experience, in which time and space breathe and majestically unfold. Shot in breathtaking black and white and featuring a sound design that represents something new in the medium, Roma is a truly visionary work.


Thursday, January 24, 2pm
Hudson Park Library


(Carlos López Estrada, USA,  2018, 95 min. In English)

The debut feature by Mexican-American filmmaker Carlos López Estrada follows Collin (Daveed Diggs), who must make it through his final three days of probation for a chance at a new beginning.  He and his troublemaking childhood best friend, Miles (Rafael Casal), work as movers, and when Collin witnesses a police shooting, the two men’s friendship is tested as they grapple with identity and their changed realities in the rapidly-gentrifying neighborhood they grew up in.



Now Playing
Film Forum


(Las herederas, Marcelo Martinessi, Paraguay, 2018, 98 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)

Chela and Chiquita have been romantic partners for decades, lifelong members of Paraguay’s moneyed elite – until the money runs out. Now they spend their days selling their furniture, glassware, and silver to whoever will make them an offer. When Chiquita, the more garrulous and resilient of the two women, is sent to prison, Chela has to cope with loneliness and incipient poverty. Then a new option develops. The movie is anchored by two extraordinary, magnetic performances (Ana Brun as Chela won the Best Actress prize in Berlin) that suggest the untold inner resources of its principal characters. The director credits Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant as an important influence, describing The Heiresses as “a coming-of-age film for a 60-year-old woman.”



Now Playing
Select Theaters


(Perfectos desconocidos, Manolo Caro, Mexico, 2018, 101 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)

From Mexican auteur Manolo Caro (Netflix’s House of Flowers) comes Perfect Strangers (Perfectos Desconocidos), the electrifying story about a seemingly simple dinner table game. When a group of best friends gets together during a lunar eclipse to share an intimate dinner in the tasteful house of Eva (Cecilia Suarez) and Antonio (Bruno Bichir), they suspect just another typical night. All is deja vu until the hostess proposes a game – all guests must lay their cell phones on the table and read aloud all incoming messages and answer all incoming phone calls- in front of the entire group. What begins as a provocative party game quickly becomes a wild ride full of twists and “textual tension” in this electrifying over the top comedy about the secrets we all carry in our pockets.


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