tercer mundo, jajaja + the rule of threes

it’s funny the expectations one sets on for oneself on a vacation destination. three weeks. seems like forever. 21 days in paradise.

and then the 21 days happen. and paradise is as multilayered as milton’s underground musings  at times. and paradise is as gorgeous as the travel channel’s reels reel it about (for reals). and paradise is complicatedly home. just ask jamaica kincaid.

when my plane landed in san josé i had a million ideas, a million expectations, a million ways to make time stretch. and like most things in threes, only a third gets fully realized.

i thought about this a lot today, in the streets of san pedro while sharing a dark cup of coffee, a cigarette and many a laugh with my good friend david. my mind lives split in threes, three (+) countries, three sisters, three weeks. and i had just seen tercer mundo, a tri-national production about space, feeling stuck and love.

i went to see it with my two sisters and my dad, mostly because the reviews were excellent, but also because i feel the need to watch anything produced from latin america, no matter how harebrained or heavy-handed. i, however, am not one to ignore the obvious, and the critic at la nación who delivered said rave reviews also loved black swan, which as i’m sure you know if you read this blog, i hated.

tercer mundo was ok. it was definitely an exercise in making a different type of latin american cinema, tying ideas and countries in threes, straying away from just writing about social malaise or melodramatic unrequited love stories between maids and rich white masters. it had a couple of moments of cinematographic genius, including a split-screen shot where one character is building a bomb while another is picking up candy from the floor and they “feel” each other above/below the other ever so subtly.

there are also nice elegant narration touches (the three countries that the film ties together are costa rica, bolivia and chile–and the knots are gentle: the costa rican main character has a chilean boss; the bolivian main character’s father is rumored to be somewhere in costa rica). but still–the film never took off.

tercer mundo’s script was really raw, and not in that guttural, honest sense, but rather in the uncooked, unfinished meaning of the word. i can’t even say that i thought it was a good idea–it was more of an interesting idea that, if done correctly, could maybe sorta work.

the movie is supposed to be about how three sets of characters in three different countries react to space. as in outer space. the costa rican set is a group of twentysomethings that are dissatisfied with their careers, their love lives, and their feeling of being “stuck” in a vacation destination (preach on, hermanos). one of them decides, very sloppily so, that there are USOs coming–unidentified swimming objects. that’s right. unidentified swimming objects. as in space submarines.

bear with me: so the USOs are coming and they have chosen this one character to be the one to jump through space and time like some french girl that they supposedly did this to years ago.

at the same time, a bolivian lady of obvious indigenous dissent (cue the lead hands, please), sits with her grandfather in a field as he teaches her to farm and talks to her about the “mysterious tall white men” that came during an eclipse. the noble savage cliche increases exponentially when the grandfather bestows ancient wisdom and an amulet to protect the granddaughter from the “aliens” that are coming. oh, and btw, her bio dad is somewhere in costa rica. reasons for this, still not so clear.

meanwhile, in chile….

a man who’s in love with a bodega girl with an asshole neanderthal of a bf happens to be dreaming about astronauts and maybe works for a project getting ready to blow up a meteor to stop it from hitting santiago armageddon-style.

there’s your 3s.

throughout the whole film, we have awkward sentences, weird pauses that make you doubt whether a scene was done for comedic or dramatic purposes, and over-the-top acting. not the mention the thing that i found utterly annoying (and that the la nación critic loved): the music was beyond predictable and the punctuation of it was like an episode of full house (cue the soft piano solo: “michelle, sometimes a grandparent dies and it’s really really sad. but it’s part of life”).

now, i know this all sounds super sassy and like i hated this movie’s guts. but really, i didn’t. i didn’t like it either (um, duh), but i did like that it was such a divorce from what we usually produce. i liked that it was ambitious in theme, and i liked that it had those moments of cinematographic beauty. much like sleep dealer, it was definitely a movie that felt rough, awkward and undercooked, but still has great potential. and it’s the first movie that i’ve seen that deals with feeling stuck–something my generation really does. true, out of the three stories, none were that strongly developed, but this rule of threes can still work with a little finessing and a heavier editing hand. see for yourselves:

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~ by nadstina on April 12, 2011.

2 Responses to “tercer mundo, jajaja + the rule of threes”

  1. brilliante! 🙂

  2. Indeed, the rule of three can mean that fully 1/3 gets accomplished or that little parts of each third get flushed out. If the latter happens, then it can feel even more incomplete and unsatisfying…but that doesn’t mean some work didn’t get done.

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