Expect to find the unexpected in Mexico City (DF) with Marcela Viejo, keyboardist/vocalist of Mexico’s praised electropop ensemble, Quiero Club. Mexico’s capital is a lively, rich, and diverse place where one is bound to find oddities, novelties, and underground movements of sorts. In this weekly column, Marcela takes you along on her musical quest to find these rare gems and obscure scenes via reviews, interviews, and profiles. The idea is to search.
Intense are the days in Mexico City’s rainy summer. While some sleep in tents outside the Televisa studios in protest dreaming of victory, some dance in nightclubs with eccentric European DJs so as not to cry, while others take refuge in their lovers, thinking of having children or of exploding the Basilica de Guadalupe. This is what happens in the case of Ramona & Ray, the main couple in El Lenguaje de Los Machetes (The Language of the Machetes), a Mexican film that deals with the necessity of transforming the rabid reality that Mexico lives in today, which transmits much depression and failure.
This film was written and directed by Kyzza Terrazas (Mexican philosopher and filmmaker of Kenyan Origin, Narobi 1977) who, after living first-hand the historic Al-Qaeda 9/11 attacks in New York and the 2006 Atenco protests, finds inspiration and makes this film, baptizing it with the exact words out of Mexican Ex-Senator Diego Fernandez de Ceballos’ mouth. He referred to the members of the rural organization FPDT (People’s Front in the Defense of the Land) as people who only knew the “language of the machete” with the clear intention of denigrating them. Thus arises the title that fits perfectly with the Kenyan director’s film that reflects a critique on Mexican society and politics.
I couldn’t see this film when it was in theaters as it lasted a short time. But thanks to Saúl Galindo, who invited me to do the opening DJ set for ex-Ultrasónica Jessy Bulbo on Saturday, July 28th after the screening of El Lenguaje de los Machetes at Club Atlántico, I was finally able to see it. Jessy also sings the title-song of the film, a cover of El Haragán’s “Mi Muñequita Sintética,” as well as playing the role of ‘Ramona.’ Along with Andrés Alameída’s character ‘Ray,’ they are the main characters of the story, which led them both to win the award for best actor and actress in the Montreal Latino Film Fest and the best ensemble performance at the Las Americas Film Festival in Austin.
The screening started at 10pm. I arrived carrying my music and headphones accompanied by my friend Taquito Jocoque, with whom I sat on the floor in front of the bar’s screen (everywhere else was full) to drink cranberry and vodka while we watched the film starring the ex-Ultrasónica.
At first it was entertaining but then the storyline started to focus a lot on the Drama; the destructive love relationship between Ramona and Ray becomes the main focus, and everything socio-political falls into second plane. Halfway through the film, my friend Taquito turns around and says
“mmmmh,” making the expression we use in Northern Mexico to say “oh this again.” Our conclusion was thinking that they performed really well and that the soundtrack was really good (scenes featured songs by Rockdrigo, Jessy Bulbo and Las Ultrasónicas), but the story becomes slow, heavy, and depressing, the same as always, a lot of drug addiction and cursing. I know I sound like Mother Theresa, but the “I have a destructive relationship and I use politics to justify my depression” sickens me. It’s evident that the characters are depressed and devastated; and that’s exactly what the film transmits: depression. However, I do recommend the film, it has been in the Biennale di Venezi festival (Venice) for a World Premiere, the Valdivia International Film Festival, the Chicago International Film Festival, and the Morelia International Film Festival to name a few.
It’s clear what many people are saying, the film is good. I believe mostly because the end the film did communicate its message, achieved its purpose, and Taquito and I got depressed. Moral: AVOID DESTRUCTIVE RELATIONSHIPS.
Afterwards, the night continued with music, they lifted the screen and I started DJing. The mood turned into “dancing-to-forget,” and around 1am Jessy Bulbo took the stage in a green wig and bright green mini skirt along with a gay Mimi. Her fans got up to the stage asking for their favorite songs and asking Jesse to show her boobs, which, since it’s one of her classics, didn’t take long for her to get up on her stool and unbutton her shirt. Jessy ended up performing in a highlighter-green bra, singing songs that the public sang along to. She also played some of her past hits with Las Ultrasónicas like “Que Grosero,” as well as the title-song “Muñequita Sintética” featured on the film.
At one point in the show, she invited three female rockers (guitar, bass, drums) to play a song with her, a moment that made us miss her past with Las Ultrasónicas, one of the great punk bands of ’90s México with whom Jessy gained the respect of many people. There’s a need for a refresh in her currents show, I find it a little out of style, but not at all lost. Her frantic bass still sounds great and she still injects people with energy. Without a doubt, Jessy Bulbo is an artist that will keep evolving and creating music for the rest of her days. Check out her band and her history.
Thumbnail photo credit by María José Sesma
Translated by Julia Tavernas