Capitalism

Crisis and Capitalism in Contemporary Argentine Cinema

Crisis and Capitalism in Contemporary Argentine Cinema

Joanna Page

Language: English

Pages: 248

ISBN: 0822344726

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


There has been a significant surge in recent Argentine cinema, with an explosion in the number of films made in the country since the mid-1990s. Many of these productions have been highly acclaimed by critics in Argentina and elsewhere. What makes this boom all the more extraordinary is its coinciding with a period of severe economic crisis and civil unrest in the nation. Offering the first in-depth English-language study of Argentine fiction films of the late twentieth century and early twenty-first, Joanna Page explains how these productions have registered Argentina’s experience of capitalism, neoliberalism, and economic crisis. In different ways, the films selected for discussion testify to the social consequences of growing unemployment, rising crime, marginalization, and the expansion of the informal economy.

Page focuses particularly on films associated with New Argentine Cinema, but she also discusses highly experimental films and genre movies that borrow from the conventions of crime thrillers, Westerns, and film noir. She analyzes films that have received wide international recognition alongside others that have rarely been shown outside Argentina. What unites all the films she examines is their attention to shifts in subjectivity provoked by political or economic conditions and events. Page emphasizes the paradoxes arising from the circulation of Argentine films within the same global economy they so often critique, and she argues that while Argentine cinema has been intent on narrating the collapse of the nation-state, it has also contributed to the nation’s reconstruction. She brings the films into dialogue with a broader range of issues in contemporary film criticism, including the role of national and transnational film studies, theories of subjectivity and spectatorship, and the relationship between private and public spheres.

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explains that the three principal spaces of the film—the theater, the psychiatric hospital, and the court—are conceived as different guises of madness: “El teatro como la sublimación, el desdoblamiento, el ensueño, la no realidad. Los tribunales como el escenario donde está depositada la historia de los conflictos y delitos del país.…Los tres espacios tenían que ver con una sociedad donde lo irracional viene avanzando” (The theater as sublimation, a psychic splitting, dream, unreality. The courts

of Leopoldo and his gradual understanding, through encounters with the spiritual world, that his purpose on earth is to learn to love. 3. The dream machine in No te mueras sin decirme adónde vas is an impoverished version of cinema for an introspective, individualistic society; it responds to mass culture’s demand for a continuous stream of raw images. The purveying of this universalist message clashes with the specifically national concerns to which the film alludes, among them the military

to) the indignity of modern labor practices.” But the crisis-resolution structure of conventional realist film, whether fiction or documentary, is entirely absent from Mundo grúa. Unemployment in the film is hardly a social theme at all, merely the particular condition of an individual life. Second, the everydayness of the images presented does not dramatize social relations through the use of polarizations, such as rich/poor, modern/traditional, urban/ rural, exploiter/exploited. In the opening

citation from The Godfather combines with several cliches and conventions borrowed from westerns and gangster movies in Un oso rojo to represent a lawless, violent Buenos Aires at the beginning of the twenty-first century. What distinguishes Un oso rojo from the gangster movies from which it draws certain motifs, bringing the particular social context of the film sharply into focus, is the amateur nature of Caetano’s criminals. Caetano’s murderers are not calculating professionals but inexpert

context of the years that preceded it. The dictatorship was exceptional in one sense, in its extremism. But in another sense, it is a chapter that begins in the 1970s, before the military coup. It will be necessary to reinterpret the events and the hegemonic ideas of the last few decades.]17 Héctor Schmucler reminds us of the violence and the divisions that characterized predictatorship Argentina: “El 23 de marzo de 1976 [the eve of the coup] la palabra ‘aniquilamiento’ no era ajena al

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