Latin American Cinemas Beyond Borders: A Dialogue Between Different Cultures.
In New Transnationalism in Contemporary Latin American Cinemas, Dolores Tierney puts her analysis of transnationality as a crucial axis into practice studying six Latin American directors: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Alfonso Cuaron, Guillermo del Toro, Fernando Meirelles, Walter Salles, and Juan Jose Campanella. Some critics consider the transnational films of these directors to be highly influenced by Hollywood style. Key to Tierney's approach is her view of transnationality as the means by which the aforementioned directors are able to benefit from resources and influences outside the geopolitical and aesthetic borders of their own national cinemas (1-5). As she observes, transnationality corresponds to both non-local and local trends. With a similar idea in mind, she tries to show both the influence from within on those Latin American directors and the particularization of each one in maintaining his own ideological traits. The text posits several approaches to tackling the intersection of national cultures and that of geographically dispersed Hollywood (9). An increase in the number of transnational productions in Latin America, Tierney argues, was a response to various factors such as withdrawing of national financial support and protectionist measures from certain directors by the state (2).
It is the author's intention to go beyond the dichotomy between the ways in which scholars see Latin American directors as advocates of Hollywood cinema versus the rest of the world. She identifies the deterritorialized directors as "interstitial authors" negotiating between different cultures. By deterritorialized films, she means movies that are produced or co-produced outside the boundaries of a director's national cinema and usually, but not always, filmed in English. In her analysis of Latin American cinemas, the author looks for alternative boundaries that challenge mainstream assumptions based on which the six studied directors produce necessarily effaced and consequently Hollywood-influenced movies. By drawing on Naficy, Tierney argues that transnational directors produce an accented cinema that shows traces of displacement (10). Tierney includes a detailed history of Latin American cinemas by integrating relevant statistics regarding the top box office, genres, and cinematic productions in each region. As she indicates, transnationalism has exercised a decisive influence on the process of filmmaking of the six mentioned directors. Such influences include popular Hollywood genres, funding sources, global marketing, and film distribution.
Structurally, Tierney's book is divided into three major parts with an introduction. The first part, which contains three chapters, focuses on Mexico. The second and third parts contain two chapters on Brazil and one chapter on Argentina, respectively. In the beginning, the author highlights the historical veins of contemporary Mexican, Brazilian, and Argentinian cinema. She rounds out her argument for transnationalism in Latin American cinemas with a brief epilogue focusing on Gravity, Birdman, The Reverent, and Crimson Peak.
Each country is analyzed from a fourfold perspective: "descriptive chronologies of [national industries]; the industry and/or legislative shifts which facilitated these directors' initial domestic successes, the industry and legislative shifts that have taken place alongside their deterritorialized successes, as well as accounts of the directors' ongoing relationship(s) to filmmaking in their own countries" (26). The first section begins with background information on contemporary Mexican cinema, then scrutinizes four transnational films by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (,Amores perros, 21 Grams, Babel, and Biutiful) in the first chapter. While the chapter touches upon some broader issues, the focus is upon Inarritu as a director without borders (47). The author traces a line of continuity between Inarritu's films and shows that "rather than purely imitate Hollywood or US traditions (as some scholarship has suggested) his films embody a perspective aligned with Mexico, Latin America and more broadly the people of the Global South" (27). In the second chapter, Tierney weds a critical understanding of transnationalism to Alfonso Cuaron's Solo con tu pareja, Y tu mama tambien, and Children of Men. First, the author examines the commercial genres of Cuaron's films, such as romantic comedies and road movies. As the author argues, genre has become a useful tool in addressing the auteurist (contestatory) practice of the Mexican filmmaker.
In the third chapter, the book puts a new spin on the role of genre in del Toro's horror trilogy (Cronos, El espinazo del diablo and El laberinto del fauno) and shows how the horror genre is used to address political issues such as the impact of NAFTA on Mexico and historical memory in Spain (104). Fernando Meirelles and his three movies The Constant Gardener, Blindness, and Cidade de Deus address the argument at the core of the fourth chapter. Meirelles's transnational works are related to significant issues of national and continental concern. As in the second chapter, the road movie genre is a crucial element in analyzing Walter Salles' Diarios de motocicleta and On the Road. The genre is used skillfully to convey Salles' political messages and re-explore "the beginnings of their related social, cultural and political revolutions" (28). The sixth chapter focuses on Juan Jose Campanella and his acclaimed film El secreto de sus ojos. Tierney analyzes the
transnational as well as industrial genre of the movie as a means of navigating the volatile terrain of historical memory in Argentina during the Dirty War.
New Transnationalism in Contemporary Latin American Cinemas will be of interest to any scholar working on contemporary Latin American cinemas, given the variety of insights that Dolores Tierney offers to the reader into the notion of transnationalism. Each part can be read independently of the others and can appeal to a wide audience based on geographical location or filmmakers studied.
University of California, Santa Barbara
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|Publication:||Confluencia: Revista Hispanica de Cultura y Literatura|
|Date:||Mar 22, 2019|
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