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Friday, August 7, 2009

Rudo Y Cursi: Just for kicks

Posted By on Fri, Aug 7, 2009 at 2:51 PM

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By Matt Brunson

RUDO Y CURSI

DIRECTED BY Carlos Cuaron

STARS Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna

TREELESS MOUNTAIN

**1/2

DIRECTED BY So Yong Kim

STARS Hee-yeon Kim, Song-hee Kim

Two sets of siblings — competitive brothers and supportive sisters — can respectively be found at the center of Rudo Y Cursi and Treeless Mountain, two foreign films reaching our city after limited engagements elsewhere.

Alfonso Cuaron's Y Tu Mama Tambien made international stars out of Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna, and here the pair are reunited for another rowdy and often rude movie in which the subject of male competitiveness is addressed. Yet while this new release doesn't come close to matching its predecessor — for one thing, that film's sensuality and sociopolitical context are both in short supply here — it still makes for a cheeky viewing experience, as the lads play brothers who hope that their soccer skills can carry them away from their impoverished village and straight into the big time. Beto (Luna) is the more focused of the two, wishing to devote his life to the sport, while Tato (Bernal) basically sees it as a stepping stone to his real desire: carving out a career as a singer. Separately, both make it to the top, but their own flaws — to say nothing of their heated rivalry — threaten to dismantle everything they've achieved. Writer-director Carlos Cuaron (who shared a writing Oscar nom with brother Alfonso for Y Tu Mama Tambien) arrives at the same destination as most other sports flicks — yes, there is a climactic "big game" — but his skewered vision makes the journey along the way more interesting than most.

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Treeless Mountain, meanwhile, is set in South Korea and focuses on two tykes — 7-year-old Jin (Hee-yeon Kim) and her younger sister Bin (Song-hee Kim) — whose struggling mother deposits them at the house of a relative (Big Aunt, they call her) as she goes off in search of the father who abandoned the family for reasons never explained. As they impatiently await their mother's return — a return that seems more unlikely with each passing day — they're basically forced to fend for themselves, as Big Aunt turns out to be a selfish drunk who doesn't even bother to enroll them in school. Writer-director So Yong Kim elected to shoot this largely from Jin's viewpoint — literally, as adults sometimes tower over the small girls like Godzilla hovered over the Tokyo populace. It's an interesting if occasionally limiting choice, and the two children deliver lovely, unforced performances.

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