JWR Articles: Film/DVD - Peyote and Longing Nights (Directors: Omar Flores Sarabia, Tiago Leão) - December 16, 2013
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Peyote and Longing Nights

4.5 4.5
70 min.

QCC373, QCC 375
A pair of promising feature débuts

In the tradition of Juliàn Hernàndez (cross-reference below), newcomer Mexican and Spanish filmmakers continue to take their place in world cinema with intimate stories, lovingly told.

Peyote
Omar Flores Sarabiabr
2013, 70 ’
Four and one-half stars

Two lost souls beautifully mirror one another

Reflections—real or imagined—on and of self magically bind this love story/road trip production together with impressive understanding of the human psyche and first-rate cinematic craft. Director/co-writer Omar Flores Sarabia (along with co-writer Sabdyel Almazàn) presents a touching tribute to his home province (San Luis Potosi, Mexico) by showing it through the eyes of video camera toting Pablo (Joe Diazzi simply dazzles the screen with his dark good looks and faraway glances) and Marco (the metaphors begin early on thanks to the pocket mirror artistry of Carlos Luque, making his transition from a saucy park urchin to vulnerable lost soul as seamlessly as the writing requires).

Once their lenses create the ideal manner of introducing one another, the two young men set off to Camino Real in search of peyote and its precious hallucinogen, mescaline. Soon bickering like longstanding lovers—an early sign that semi-virgin Pablo will soon abandon his Lucy for the much furrier terrain of Marco—the sudden buddies readily work through the obligatory car breakdown, misunderstanding of who asked whom on a date and beer-fuelled wrestling match before the film’s first searing sequence turns up the heat several notches.

Sarabia has no fear in filling the frame with just the two combatants’ heads, letting his stars painstakingly shift their visages and move ever so slowly towards the inevitable first kiss. Expertly captured by Almazàn (doing double duty as cinematographer), the embrace shifts to a view of Pablo’s delectable torso being gently investigated by Marco’s eager hands; when it’s time to turn the tables, the camera merely makes a short pan to a large mirror, revealing Pablo’s tender ministrations to his somewhat older, hot desire. Filmmaking doesn’t get much better than this.

José Antonio Parga’s original score is also a joy to behold. Using solo accordion to depict Pablo’s isolation at home is a deft touch; adding guitar and then bass as the duo sets out on their mind-altering expedition serves notice of the wide-ranging road ahead. Adding the human voice into the mix—following a spectacular sequence where Pablo asserts himself like never before, completing the role reversal in a haze of tripping discovery—beautifully sets the table for the wash of humanity that brings this incredible journey to a close filled with the promise of hope.

Can’t wait for the next installment from Sarabia and his talented crew. JWR


Reflecting after sex

Longing Nights, aka Noches de espera
Tiago Leão
2013, 70’
Four stars

Dilemmas abound after dark

Anyone who has ever been publicly shunned for another, cheated upon in their “happy home,” ignored by a significant other who prefers the company of friends, been beaten after climax, ended up in an unexpected orgy or the odd one out in a threesome—I wonder if anyone feels left out at this point?—ought to see Tiago Leão’s dark essay about the ravages of desire, desperation and despair.

Sexualities of all stripes are openly explored as the camera flits in and out of Madrid’s bedrooms and bars voyeuristically recording all manner of couplings, literal comings and goings of men, women, transgendered and their admirers (paying customers or apparent partners). To add to the mayhem and quest for carnal/emotional bliss there are copious amounts of drugs, booze and cigarettes ingested, swallowed or inhaled—all in the name of self-fulfillment.

It’s not always easy to watch (the sex is tastefully done; the violence mercifully brief) but the guitar-rich contributions to the tracks from Explosions in the Sky keep the pace moving steadily forward and provide aural comfort during the difficult scenes.

In more ways than words ever could, the last vignette speaks volumes indeed. Let’s hope there’s more fiction than fact to this uninhibited exploration of what we do for love. JWR

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