Despite the political background, Chilean movie My Tender Matador is extra about private politics: the politics of being a gay, and of being a revolutionary who has unhappy tales of his personal.
A movie pageant is a spot to find nice movies, sure, however typically, even a not-bad (i.e. decidedly un-great) movie can show worthwhile. On the floor, Rodrigo Sepulveda’s Chilean drama, My Tender Matador (Tengo miedo torero), is one more story of an unlikely friendship between two very totally different individuals: a younger revolutionary named Carlos (Leonardo Ortizgris) and an ageing gay/transvestite (Alfredo Castro) who calls herself Queen. But what issues to outsiders like us is the fast, hour-and-a-half tour of what it was in all probability prefer to be in Santiago within the spring of 1986, when individuals have been overtly protesting in opposition to Pinochet’s dictatorship. You can Wiki up these things all you need, however watching it’s nonetheless one thing else.
Plus, My Tender Matador introduces at the very least a few of us to the Chilean author Pedro Lemebel, whose 2001 novel is that this movie’s supply. The press word says that Lemebel was a staunch defender of the socially marginalised, “becoming a true icon of counterculture”. Tengo miedo torero (2001) was his first novel translated to English, and it’s round this time that the author acquired his final title, which is his mom’s. (His paternal final title was Mardones.) From Wikipedia: “Lemebel is a gesture of femininity, to engrave a maternal last name, to acknowledge my (washer) mother in light of the illegality of homosexual(s) and transvestite(s).”
The movie’s Queen is extravagantly female, and he or she’s infused with Lemebel’s “language of queer humiliation,” as The New Yorker wrote in a tribute, after the writer’s dying in 2015. In the movie, Queen cheerfully calls herself “sissy” and “faggot”. (Indeed, it’s unclear whether or not Queen is a transperson or a person who likes to typically put on girls’s garments, however the pronouns you need to use whereas referring to “her” are the female ones.)
She talks about being compelled by her father to play soccer. “He asked the other kids to hit me, so I could become a man.” She talks about not celebrating her birthday since she was 10. “I was such a sissy, no parent wanted to send their kids to my birthday.” These statements are all of the extra touching as a result of they’re narrated with a way of unalterable truth, like somebody saying “the sky is blue”.
Queen’s unapologetic gayness is definitely a cause this friendship appears unlikely, however not as a result of Carlos is a homophobe. Far from it, truly. It’s extra that Queen doesn’t care about Carlos’s trigger. (He and his buddies have a plan for Pinochet.) “Us queens don’t care about who’s on top, the military or the communists. For them, we’ll always be a bunch of fucking fags. If there’s ever a revolution that includes us, let me know. I’ll be there, front row.”
So what does (the presumably straight) Carlos need with Queen, who’s clearly in love with him? Is it a actual friendship? Carlos shops in Queen’s dwelling the weapons and different issues he wants for his plan. Is this like how we’d ask a buddy to maintain some stuff of ours whereas we transfer properties? Or is he pretending to be Queen’s buddy, merely in order that he can retailer in Queen’s dwelling the weapons and different issues he wants for his plan? Maybe it’s a little bit of each.
Book-versus-film comparisons are fascinating. Here’s how Carlos and Queen meet on the web page: “Those fringed scarves, sheer nets, laces, tulles, and gossamers covering the boxes she used as furniture. Those heavy boxes the young man she met at the neighborhood store asked her to keep in her house, that good-looking boy who asked her for a favor. Telling her they were just books, censored books, he said, through lips like moist lilies. She simply couldn’t refuse such a virile voice, and the echo of those words from that mouth continued to reverberate in her silly head like an excited little bird. Why should she ask more questions? He said his name was Carlos something or other…”
It’s a much more dramatic assembly on display screen. Queen is within the viewers, watching a drag present, when the cops barge in and start firing pictures. A terrified Queen flees to the road, operating blindly, when a hand out of nowhere grabs her and pins her to a wall simply in time, as a siren-blaring cop automotive passes them. Carlos drops Queen dwelling, and maybe he thinks this dilapidated home on this dumpy, earthquake-hit neighbourhood can be the proper place to cover his containers. Maybe he thinks he can use this foolish outdated queen. (Reread the extract above.) I might have preferred to know the supply of Carlos’s emotions for Queen, no matter they have been. But then once more, how can we hope to outline one thing that he himself hasn’t totally grasped?
Despite the political background (the occasions are based mostly across the 1986 try on Pinochet’s life by the Manuel Rodríguez Patriotic Front), this isn’t an explicitly political movie. Yes, we do get the scene the place Queen is ready to slip via the police who intimidate protestors. (They suppose he’s innocent.) But Pinochet, who’s an precise character in a parallel narrative within the e book, is right here a mere (unseen) presence.
The movie, thus, is extra about private politics: the politics of being a gay, the politics of being a revolutionary who has unhappy tales of his personal.
The approach Carlos tears up when Queen throws him a party, it’s clear he’s not had the most effective of childhoods, both. Maybe that’s what attracts him to Queen, the truth that each of them are “outsiders” in a way.
I used to be reminded of Hector Babenco’s Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985), the place a friendship blooms in jail between a revolutionary and a homosexual man. Again, the 2 are linked as “outsiders”, and the supply novel by Manuel Puig is, once more, Latin American (Argentinean, this time, although the film transferred the story to Brazil, as a result of the army dictatorship there offered extra narrative potentialities). But that’s a unique film. In different phrases, whereas we’ve seen many revolutionaries on movie and plenty of queer individuals on movie, it’s the place-and-time specifics that make My Tender Matador worthwhile: the truth that we see what it’s prefer to be a revolutionary and what it’s prefer to be queer in 1980s Cuba. It’s why motion pictures are referred to as “motion” footage. They take us locations.
Baradwaj Rangan is Editor, Film Companion (South).
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