Friday, September 21, 2018

MUSEO: Alonso Ruizpalacios' follow-up to Güeros hits South Florida theaters today

When Güeros, the first-full-length film from Mexican writer-director Alonso Ruizpalacios reached U.S. theaters back in 2014, it looked as if a stunning new talent was upon us via this tale of disaffected Mexican youth told in a fresh and exemplary manner.

Ruiz Palacios (shown below) is back in 2018, with a new movie entitled MUSEO, which is again about disaffected youth. But here, that youth is lingering well into middle age.

Our "hero," Juan (also known derisively as "Shorty"), is a spoiled, entitled product of the Mexican bourgeoisie circa the mid 1980s.

As played with his usual sexy charm, coupled this time to more negative aspects of his character, by Gael García Bernal (below), Juan is quite the little asshole, as he and his partner-in-crime, Benjamin (Leonardo Ortizgris, two photos below) plan and then execute a whopping burglary (based on a real incident) involving a number of priceless artifacts located in a Mexican museum.

Folk who saw the recent hybrid documentary/narrative film, American Animals, should immediately note the similarities between the two. in which a heist of museum artifacts is attempted by some hugely unprofessional thieves. American Animals was pretty amazing: smart, beautifully acted, directed and written, with a wonderful combination of narrative characters and their actual counterparts in reality. It was thrilling, funny and bizarre, with a style that turned it into an art film without its even trying.

Museo, however, clearly wants to be an "art film," and so announces its intentions, as well as its themes and concerns, with a little too heavy a hand. It is certainly an interesting exploration of the Mexican culture of its time, along with the everlasting Hispanic ability to spoil its male children rotten, even as its makes clear (a little too clear) that we can rarely be sure of a person's true motives, including those we think we know best.

Ruizpalacios gives us a combo of history, philosophy, psychology, and a kind of heist thriller that would be much more thrilling had it been shortened by 20-to-30 minutes. Instead the movie just goes on and one and on, giving us an entire section devoted to a supposed "contact," a night club, and an over-the-hill performer (nicely played by Leticia Brédice) -- clearly someone on whom Juan has had a major crush -- that may be interesting but drains the suspense and pace rather crushingly.

Better is the scene with Simon Russell Beale (above, left) playing an international "fence" who must apprise our boys of the stupidity of their actions and expectations.

Clearly, Ruizpalacios had a much larger budget this time around (the credit sequence alone looks quite ravishing), but the spirit, freshness and life -- not to mention the ability to offer up so many ideas and themes so offhandedly yet strongly -- that inhabited Güeros has mostly gone missing. Well... next time!

From Vitagraph Films and running two hours and eight minutes, Museo opened today, Friday, September 21, here in South Florida -- in Miami at the AMC Aventura 24 and the Coral Gables Art Cinema, in Fort Lauderdale at the Cinema Paradiso-Hollywood, and in West Palm Beach at the Lake Worth Playhouse.  Click here and scroll down to find all the currently scheduled playdates, cities and theaters.

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