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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

LOS VIAJES DEL VIENTO / THE WIND’S JOURNEY (2009)

Fabulist cinema about, of all things, accordion culture in 1968 Northern Columbia. Ciro Guerra’s richly imagined film recalls the Taviani Brothers, say, NIGHT OF THE SHOOTING STARS/’82, but intimate rather than epic; South American rather than Italian. It really is the story of an accordion and a reluctant accordionist. A special, hard to play instrument, it’s taken an unhealthy possession of current ‘keeper,’ middle-aged troubadour Ignacio. Recently widowed, he’s now desperate to return the accursed accordion to its original master hundreds of miles away. Joined by a young acolyte who wishes to learn its secrets (and just get out of town), their long, dangerous journey is studded by a series of startling set pieces that border on magical realism, tested by natural terrain & human foible. A village accordion competition with improvised verses used to attack. A sudden command for accordion accompaniment to a duel of love & honor on a wooden bridge. A sacred convocation of indigenous drummers hoping to earn a blood baptism. A brotherly meeting (and fare-the-well) at a mountain abode. Even murder . . . of an accordion! All unlikely, all enthralling. (With perhaps two too many. Must there always be a cock fight in these things?) The pacing can turn a bit glacial at times, but if it’s a trudge, it’s a bewitching one. Never more so than at journey’s end.

DOUBLE-BILL: As mentioned above, SHOOTING STARS; or more Guerra with his remarkable follow up, EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT/’15. (See below)

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Who knew ACCORDION would be such a fun word to type?

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