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Individual storylines spin out from the central hub, occasionally in flashback, as tangible illustration of a line of talk, and new relationships begin to form: a standoffish girl picked up at a cemetery, a slapping and mugging victim, a panhandling bag lady. And an old relationship, that between the tango singer and a former lover, stirs from the embers. No ties yet bind. The whole thing — the coming-together, the spinning-out, the interweaving — has an unforced flow and a delicate touch. It’s serious and it’s light; searching and easygoing; philosophical and indecisive. (Were it to be held up to mainstream Hollywood comedies instead of to indie slices of life, the contrast would be to the belief that unless you rupture a gut, it isn’t a comedy. An extension, that, of the American penchant for violence.) True again, the film culminates with a stickup at gunpoint in the bar, but although there’s a struggle for the gun and shots are fired, nobody gets hurt, the café camaraderie tightens in the aftermath, and by the time the cops arrive, looking at the dancing couples through locked doors (nothing here for the nightly news), they think they must have the wrong address. Fade to black. Ciudad en Celo deals in an outlook, an attitude, rather than in goals and attainments; an undying hope, rather than a happy ending or its opposite. I would not presume to say that it’s very Argentinian, but I will venture it’s not very American.

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Comments

mateu April 10, 2008 @ 9:52 p.m.

Thank you for a wonderful review; I can only hope I have a chance to see this movie in Portland (Oregon).

Years ago I learned through reading you that some of the quality of criticism comes from the critic's ability to bring other thoughts and information--context, if you will--to bear on the subject. I realize with this review that another element of good criticism is the ability to convey in writing the emotions of the material and their effect on the observer. Most reviewers offer little more than judgments of love, or more likely, hate.

gràcies, Matt

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