Sergio Tovar Velarde weaves together four short films covering the major phases of the lives of gay men in Mexico City in his second feature, Four Moons. With so many unconnected stories, it feels more like a condensed TV drama than a film.
If someone were to ask me what kind of movie I am Happiness on Earth is, I would respond that it is a Julian Hernandez film. I suppose that I could say that he makes “art house” or “festival” films, but he also belongs in that category of director where the style and subject become established patterns such that their films are classified off by themselves. No one makes films like them.
If you haven’t seen one of his movies, I don’t know if I would recommend this one, but Happiness does follow what I’ve come to expect from Hernandez. He is very good at creating stories of attractive men pursuing sex with each other – in fact he probably has no equal in that. There is a certain style to these pursuits in his films that evoke a very raw sexuality that barely even rises to the level of Eros. It is more instinctual than Eros, which should involve some passion and pleasure. Men (and in this movie, women, too) in pursuit of sex are like animals in heat. They prowl. Stare. They crawl on all fours. Consume as if they aren’t certain whether what they hunt is prey or a rival beast. Since there is hardly any dialogue in this film or any of his films, the actors must physically convey this animalism as well as any emotional states they might have. It makes sense then, that part of this movie involves an affair with a dancer since modern dancers are trained in the art of physical communication.
Peyote (2013) is Omar Flores Sarabia’s first feature length movie. Set in San Luis Potosi, the movie covers 24 hours in the lives of two late teen-aged boys who meet one day and decide to take a journey to Real de Catorce in order to find the eponymous drug. With a premise like that, one could be excused for thinking that the movie would be a stoner comedy or road movie. But neither of the boys seems truly interested in the potential of the drugs and they probably wouldn’t know what to do if they found the plant. They also don’t have enough adventures influenced by the people they meet on their way to categorize the effort as a road movie. In fact, with the exception of one souvenir vendor, the boys don’t speak with anyone else on-screen.