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Tag: colombia

Film Review: The Wind Journeys (Los Viajes del Viento)

Los Viajes del Viento (The Wind Journeys) (2009)

Rather than get your fix of Colombian culture from Hollywood spectacles like Colombiana, look no further than The Wind Journeys for an authentic and contemporary cinematic depiction of a nation. No, it doesn’t show the increasingly modernized cityscapes of Bogotá or Medellin, but it does reach back to the diverse heritage and tradition of the developing country. The film hosts a great static cinematography of the pantheon of panoramic Colombian vistas – mountains, plains, rivers, desert – all accompanied by a furious wind that blows through the country, carrying tradition with it.

The Wind Journeys takes the viewer on a sonic journey of traditional Colombian music – from the country-folk stylings of Merengue and Vallenato to more indigenous wind and percussion-based sounds of the Wayuú and other Highland peoples. The lonesome journey of a once-famed travelling accordionist begins with a death, that of elderly protagonist’s wife, and also climaxed with the loss of another, his Master Guerra. However, the ways of his cursed accordion refused to die. A playboy in his prime, the elderly protagonist, Ignacio, has countless bastard children throughout the land, posing the question whether his young companion, Fermin, is one of them. Yes or no, Ignacio refuses to teach Fermin how to play any instruments, refuses to pass on his way of life that has left him to endure pain and strife. He blames this strife on the cursed accordion he wields, but his struggles are that of all mankind, his ‘Devil’s Accordian’ merely a scapegoat.

The boy’s rite of passage and the man’s rite of death evoke Homer’s Odyssey and Achebe’s Things Fall Apart – parallel epics unfold across primordial lands, the dual wayfarers encountering mythic trials for their feats to overcome. Of all the legendary feats, though, I didn’t care for the accordion-off. I know that ‘realistic’ isn’t what director, Guerra, was aiming for in this mythic tale, but this drawn out scene came off as juvenile. Perhaps in the mother tongue it was more appropriate, but I feel subtlety and sophistication were lost in translation.

After Fermin’s baptism, Ignacio’s fears were substantiated. Even without trying to teach the younger generation, some things are still imparted, as if by way of the very breeze we share. By the end, he decides that since sheltering the past to protect the present is futile, you might as well impart the things that you know and love to neutralize the inescapable woes of the world. The final scene leaves us with a Lost in Translation moment, with a message being transmitted, the content of which remaining unbeknownst to the audience forever. I will not bother to guess here. It seems to me, though, that the words have no weight, the very act itself is enough to be of consequence.

Do yourself a favor and put it on your queue instead of Colombiana.

 

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Colombian Customs, Meet American Customs

November, 22nd 2011

How ironic. I’m only out of Colombia, so famed for being laidback with tardiness-inducing sloth, for a mere five hours before I nearly miss my connecting flight because of the worst time management used by a massive U.S. airport.

Don’t you hate it in movies how they show the main character bustin’ his ass, sweatin’ balls in a 100 yard dash to catch his flight? Well, that cliché douchebag was me – only exchange that 100 yards into 300 one way, 300 back, a high-speed escalator ride, and a ferry train ride, all in time to have the almighty gatekeeper open up the door just for you, with an unnecessarily irritating, “I thought you weren’t gonna make it,” quip.

Oh yeah, and the security threw away my recent duty-free purchase of only the finest Aguardiente Nectar quince mil pesos can buy (Verde if you must know). Fuckin’ ‘ell. Thanks Continental Airlines, for allowing myself (and most likely a few other unluckier flyers) to purchase a ticket from you with a connecting flight that is literally impossible to catch unless you say, ‘peace out luggage, I’ll see ya when I see ya,’ toss out your party-fave guardo, and run all five legs of that corny-movie relay. And you heard right…bye bye luggage. I could only hope to have her returned to me within a month.

Ok Continental, let’s do some elementary math. Your favorite. If you have one hour and a half between flights, and U.S. Customs takes 45 minutes to clear, you have a full 45 minutes remaining to relax before you take off. Sweet, right? Maybe I’ll watch Why Mac Got Fat. But wait a moment, well-paying customer. You need to pick up your own luggage from baggage claim and recheck it before you can decide which Always Sunny character is slacking this season. ‘How long will that take?’ you ask. You guessed it, another 45 minutes – just in time to make your flight. Oh wait, I forgot to mention, Houston’s airport is fahkin’ ooge mate! and you have to traverse a sizeable portion of everything’s-bigger-in-George Bush’s Texas Airport to reach your gate. Hilariously, the only flight whose gate number is omitted from the Departures board is yours! That’s gonna cost ya another 15 minute sprint to customer service plus the five minutes it’ll take to get through the third security checkpoint you’ve stripped your way through today. At least, they were too negligent to discover the baggie of exotic Colombian uchuvas (look ‘em up) that you nabbed before leaving the Boog.

But, upon landing in Washington, DC a few hours later, I can’t be a complete cynical bastard. By some miracle in the form of a beautifully sweet airport luggage worker, my bag that I had left for dead appeared on the baggage claim belt before me as if I imagined the whole ordeal. And, I can say that I met a compassionate Texan student who listened to my sweaty ranting, consoling me with time-honored classics like, ‘damn, that’s terrible.’ I think I convinced her to travel to Colombia, by the way. Plus, it’s good to be home. And it’s decorative gourd season, motherfuckers.