RUDO & CURSI
BACK in 2001, a low-budget Mexican film named Y Tu Mama Tambien, about a pair of teenage boys on a road trip with a beautiful older woman, became an unlikely international hit, and made a global star out of young actor Gael Garcia Bernal. Rudo y Cursi reunites Bernal with his former co-star Diego Luna, under the direction of Y Tu Mama writer Carlos Cuaron, for a kind of Mexican film royalty love-in, but the results are nowhere near as inspiring.
Bernal and Luna play a pair of brothers living in poverty out in the Mexican sticks, where hothead Beto (Luna) is a banana plantation foreman and Tato (Bernal) is a slacker dreaming of becoming a pop star. While playing for their local weekend soccer team – Beto is a goalie, Tato a striker – they are spotted by a talent scout who happens to be passing through, and in no time end up in Mexico’s top football league. As well as nicknames – Rudo (meaning tough) for Beto, and Cursi (meaning prissy) for Tato – they get beautiful houses, expensive cars, a disastrous pop career for Tato and a serious gambling problem for Beto that sees him dealing with very much the wrong people.
The story arc of simple kids discovering success, glory and excess before being brought down by the dark side is a movie staple, but it’s a real disappointment that such a talented team have been able to bring so little extra to it here. The film drifts by in an amiable enough way, without either being sufficiently amusing or involving to be memorable. There’s no doubting the star qualities of its two leads, but this is a flimsy affair that trades more on their previous achievements than generating anything new.
FROM Rudo & Cursi’s Mexican brothers to a pair of sisters in New Mexico – Albequerque, to be precise – who embark upon an unusual enterprise to get themselves out of life’s rut. In her early 30s, Rose is a single mom making ends meet by working as a cleaner, the only excitement in her life coming from illicit liaisons with her former high school sweetheart, a married local cop. Meanwhile her grungy younger sister, Nora, is bored and depressed and struggling to hold down waitress jobs.
They discover there’s a profitable, if rather unpleasant, business to be made out of cleaning up death scenes. Whether murder, suicide or a person who died in alcoholic squalor, it’s the kind of grizzly, niche-market clean-up that pays handsomely for those who are prepared to scrub blood off the walls and pick brains out of the carpet.
Sounds gory, but it isn’t. In fact, this is a gentle and layered drama about family, disappointment and life’s pitfalls that distinguishes itself through its two female leads. Amy Adams, a brilliantly versatile actress, brings an affecting sense of internal sadness to the role of Rose, the former high school hottie for whom life has stalled in the slow lane. Brit actress Emily Blunt has just the right amount of pouty spark as Nora. There’s also a customarily entertaining turn from Alan Arkin as their wheeler-dealing dad.
With its dowdy cinematography, acoustic soundtrack and modestly quirky story, this might be common-or-garden US indie fare, but its excellent performances ensure Sunshine Cleaning is compelling in its quiet way.
IT’S exactly a century since the poet Filippo Marinetti published the manifesto that launched the Futurists, the short-lived Italian art movement which celebrated the noise and energy of the modern world, before being snuffed out by World War One. Leaving aside their proto-Fascist tendencies, there’s something quite romantic and heroic about the idea of the Futurists, moustachioed men in Fedora hats with ideas about rejecting the past and embracing the febrile chaos of the brave new world. “We will sing of great crowds, excited by work, by pleasure and by riot,” read the manifesto – they were the punks of their age.
Yet this exhibition of Futurist paintings shows they never really found the visual language to express their modernist fervour – or else they were never really great painters. They attempted to take the form-breaking styles of cubism and post-impressionism and mix them with the noise, movement and primary colours of the city. But it all seems rather staid, even sedate here.
The best of them, Umberto Boccioni, stands well clear of the rest – his State of Mind triptychs about train travel are fluid, complex pieces – but even his work lacks the potency of that absurdly grandiose manifesto.
In the end, Futurism was overrun by the much greater chaos of the Great War. This show seems like a strange time capsule of a movement that didn’t quite work, and now seems more like the signifier of the end of a period, than the start of one.