Lifeguards, luxury hotels from early XXth Century, mermaids, sea animals and sand castles gather in this labyrinthine essay. A “documentary” about balnearios, Argentine bath resorts and the idea of cities dedicated exclusively to idleness, empty along the winter months and crowded in the summer.
If Argentina’s festival presence is so prominent, it’s largely due to El Pampero, a group of rebellious, innovative filmmakers that have redefined low-budget cinema. This gem, full of irony and humor, inaugurates their work.
An obsessive, encyclopedic exercise in taxonomy and classification. A collection of video essays traversing the genres of fiction and nonfiction. My favorite part was the ethnographic study of the arcade gamer, while the Zucco's section was a bit self-indulgent. Possibly one of the best films of the year.
Takes trivial matters seriously, but with a wry smile, resulting in something playful and profound in equal measure. Reminds me of the documentaries of Jonathan Meades (in both subject matter and delivery).
The soundtrack is great too, with lots of Reinhardt & Grappelli.
Meanders lovingly through the past and the present. Then the second half of the film dwells on one character, Zucco, who seems to have impressed the filmmaker more than the viewers. Worth watching, nonetheless. If you are watching on Mubi, you can turn it off when you get to the Zucco part. You won't have missed much. And Zucco won't care, he is quite confident in his immortality and posterity.
More than a treat in itself, though I really enjoyed it, this is a gem of form; of how to apply the rich (relatively cheap) narrative magic of editing & post as much as possible to the documentary, and of how tone & truth might best adapt in turn. Which is actually a pretty heavy thing to do so lightly, & with such finesse. A mix of nostalgia, irony, poetic truth & insistent sociological relevance. Solid achievement.
Loved the first couple segments. Wonderful visual explorations of the seashore as "liminal zone." The first segment wittily covered the ground of those hyper-lit-crit essays on the theory of the leisure class, but without having to read dense pages of psychoanalytic name-dropping. The segment on Zucco was the weakest link, though his sculptures are fantastic creations.
It sure looks a bit like a home movie, made with no money and a strong will. But the voice over is so well written, you can feel this (very argentinian i would say) love for storytelling. Some bits of "Balnearios" clearly announce "Historias Extraordinarias". Llinas is an auteur, you can recognize his style almost immediatly, so much inspired from litterature. That is already a good sign for a young filmmaker.
Ejercicio de testeo de las obesiones que luego Llinás y su troupe de El Pampero canalizarían con mejores resultados, Balnearios es una pelicula que encierra en su centro el verdadero pilar de todo un nuevo capítulo en la historia del cine argentino: las historias yacen alrededor nuestro, y el cine posee el poder de revivirlas. Solo hacen falta un poco de osadia y el ferviente poder de la imaginación.