The following is one of the entries from my list of the 100 greatest films (through 2006) from Africa, Latin America & the Caribbean, which I invite you to visit on this site if you haven’t already done so. — Dennis
Torrentially dynamic, in terms of bold, sharp camera movement and a high degree of human and other motion energizing the mise-en-scène, Julio comienza en julio is an astounding film from Chile. Well written by Gustavo Frías, beautifully directed by Silvio Caiozzi, and brilliantly cinematographed in high-contrast sepia by Nelson Fuentes (although I thought I saw a green-leafed tree), it condemns Chile’s then-current rule, and gets away with it, by suggesting parallels between Pinochet’s military dictatorship and, in 1917, a doomed feudalism.
Wealthy landowner-cattle rancher Julio García Castano, a widower, has three interconnected worries: the nearby Franciscan monastery is claiming ideal grazing land as its own, embroiling him in a legal suit that is taking the courts forever to resolve; Europe’s Great War may wind down, which would deflate the market price of his beef; his son, also named Julio, is turning 15, and he wants to “make a man” of Julito and compel him to “face reality.” To his son’s grand birthday party, Don Julio has invited the local madam, who has brought with her every one of her whores so that Julito has a wide pool from which to choose. Julito chooses María, whom he ardently pursues thereafter. Until it reaches a blatant, predictable finish, Caiozzi’s film pirouettes across a turbulent tangle of politics, family and other human relationships, spinning the theme of ownership—who owns what and whom. Don Julio’s expansive ownership, which includes his lawyer and Julito’s live-in tutor, trumps everyone else’s—but an unexpected rebellion changes this.
Surveying family portraits, the opening movement has us waiting for each pair of eyes to blink.
Felipe Rabat is magnificent as Don Julio; Juan Cristobal Meza, his father’s son—a contumelious shit.
Possible influences: Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, Haile Gerima, Luchino Visconti.
B(U)Y THE BOOK
MY BOOK, A Short Chronology of World Cinema, IS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE FROM THE SANDS FILMS CINEMA CLUB IN LONDON. USING EITHER OF THE LINKS BELOW, ACCESS THE ADVERTISEMENT FOR THIS BOOK, FROM WHICH YOU CAN ORDER ONE OR MORE COPIES OF IT. THANKS.