Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Short Film: Hasta Los Huesos / Down to the Bone (Mexico, 2001)

This wonderful short film comes from Mexico, that American country of culinary delights that shares a common border with the US; Mexico, a land that has supplied the States with not only a lot of cheap labor but has also enriched the cinematic world with such entertaining psychotronic masterpieces as (among others) Santo vs The Vampire Women (1962/trailer) or Santo and Blue Demon Against the Monsters (1970/trailer), numerous Paul Nashy Spanish/Mexican co-productions and, relatively recently, the nihilistically fun and unjustly ignored and critically castigated (in the US, at least) Tarantino-inspired pop crime flick Nicotina (2003/trailer).
This short film, entitled Hasta Los Huesos / Down to the Bone, may have won awards around the world but it to remains an unjustly overlooked visual thrill. Written and directed by René Castillo (website), a self-taught animation filmmaker, the short is a truly masterful clay animation film that tells the touchingly morbid and sad tale of a man who must come to terms with the fact that he is dead. Or, as the Tribecca Film Institute describes the plot: "A man arrives in the land of the dead and, with the help of a beautiful hostess, joins the eternal party."
Hasta Los Huesos is claymation at its best. Anyone who likes this type of animation will probably already swoon the first time the wind blows through the hair of the little boy riding his tricycle though the graveyard. Drenched in the symbolism and language of the traditional Day of the Dead as seen by the great Mexican graphic artist Jose Posada, Hasta Los Huesos features music by the Grammy Award winning Mexican band Café Tacuba, a group far more worth listening to than most of the crap that gets a Grammy; the hauntingly poignant singing voice of Catrina (performing a traditional Mexican song entitled Mexican song titled La Llorona / The Crying Woman) is supplied by Eugenia León. Needless to say, much is lost in the low resolution presentation found on YouTube, and the film really should be seen on screen or at least in a better quality, but even in the resolution found here some of the power of the film still manages to come across.
Of equal interest and of equal technical mastery is the first short film of René Castillo, Sin sostén / No Support (found here). Made in 1998, the film almost seems like a prequel to the events in Hasta Los Huesos. When screened alone or as a pair, the viewer is only left hoping that one day soon René Castillo will grace the genre with another masterpiece.

No comments: