By Chuck Wilson
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Amy Nicholson
By Carolina Del Busto
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Michael Atkinson
By Calum Marsh
Between 2007 and 2010, Nicolas Pereda wrote and directed four features, bashed out an hour-long, installation-style video piece, and made a short film during what must have counted as his spare time. Often, thats the schedule of an artist on a hobbyhorse (or else a factory line). But Pereda has taken this relentless work ethic and pushed it to an abstractly exhilarating new place.
Unseeable outside short engagements and film festivals (including Cannes and Venice), Peredas fast-amassing oeuvre gets the retrospective treatment at Anthology in a one-week run starting Friday. You can forget turning to Netflix afterward; the director doesnt even have a Wikipedia page yet. (And press reports seem to disagree how old the Mexico Cityborn twentysomething is, preciselythough Anthology says 27.)
Peredas four full-lengths arent just linked by their narrative concern with Mexicos contemporary poor; most of them also star a mother-son dyad played by actors Teresa Sanchez and Gabino Rodriguez. And in every single film except Where Are Their Stories?Peredas impressively assured debuttheir characters bear the actors real-life first names.
Yet the works dont serve as sequels or prequels to one another. If these characters are always engaged in acts of subsistence-maintenance, they are still easily differentiated. Soldier-boy Gabino, from Peredas latest, Summer of Goliath, is a sadistic prick compared to the sweet kid in Juntos who just wants to find his dog and cool down the scalding-hot water coming out of his tap. The films Mother Teresa also evolves. Merely put upon by the lazy, house-mover version of Gabino in Perpetuum Mobile, she spends Goliath cursing out and fighting with her ex-husbands suspected objects of affection (male and female).
You cant help but see the populist impulse in Peredas work, as when his Godard-y opening credits crack in way late (after the 20-minute mark) during Stories as a rhythmic surprise to remind you that a) yes, you are watching a movie, and b) why arent there more movies about the poor, anyway? Thankfully, such noble concerns avoid trending toward uncomplicated sentimentality. The range of his characterscheats, pranksters, layabouts, and honest hardworking typesmakes it clear that Pereda really wants to investigate the margins he cant stop filming.
Influences from the entire International Slow-Pace Cinema School are naturally operating throughout, but Pereda has some innovations. The is-it-doc-or-not? language of Goliath will remind some of Miguel Gomess brilliantly indirect Our Beloved Month of August. But with Pereda, the answer is knowable; his filmography is littered with self-referential clues. (Hint: If attending both, see Juntos before Perpetuum Mobile. And dont miss the early Pereda short Interview With the Earth, which screens at Anthology alongside Stories.) And anyone who saw Sofia Coppolas Somewhere as a triumph of technique over substance should check out this directors way with a deliberate wind-up.
The least satisfying screening in a movie-theater context is probably the one-hour video piece All Things Were Now Overtaken by Silence, which is more a documentary about Peredas crew lighting the staged recitation of a poem than an actual reading of the work. Still, if contemplating going all in, you should see that, too. This is one of those weeks when the tax-deductible, ticket-discount-granting membership at Anthology feels like a purely selfish investment.
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