Thursday, May 24, 2018

Chicanonautica: Ugly Things From Mexico

by Ernest Hogan
Isaac Ezban’s The Similars (Los Parecidos) hit me like an electric cattle prod to the pineal gland. I was impressed, and eager for more, but not right away. Too much of this stuff can warp you, and I have a straight job that requires me to be somewhat socially acceptable. I waited awhile, found Cosas Feas on YouTube, (it’s also on Vimeo) then when I felt like I could use a proper jolt, I gave it a watch.

Before the beginning, there a listing of a lot of awards it won and festivals it was selected for. It has quite a reputation. In a few years, people will start calling it a classic.

The title, Cosas Feas, is officially translated to Nasty Stuff, though it literally means, “ugly things,” and in the twisted tradition of Spanish profanity, is used like “pieces of shit.”

All fair warning. Do not see Cosas Feas if your sensibilities or constitutions are delicate. It gets nasty, and ugly, mostly shot through a fish-eye lens.

It’s the story of 11 year-old Kriko Krankinsky. His first sex education class forces a crisis that ends up revealing  not only his sexuality, but just what kind of immigrants he and his family are. Their legal status is never mentioned, but they sure are alien.

Yeah, aliens. We’re talking stark, raving sci-fi, with a bad attitude with fake scratches to make it like an ancient flick on TV, way after midnight. It also recreates the effects such movies had on the preadolescent mind of this old, jaded guy who’s been binging on such madness for over half a century.

Cosas Feas uses scenes from the capitalist propaganda cartoon Destination Earth, and the adolescent angst exploitation classic Teenagers From Outer Space.

And I probably should mention that it has one on the most outrageous explicit sex scenes ever.

Ezban could do a great version of William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch. He has a real feeling for sexual anxiety, and insects. Move over Luis Buñuel, John Waters, Alejandro Jodorowsky, David Lynch, Terry Gilliam, Guillermo Del Toro . . .

There’s also the fear of immigrants, so popular on this side of the border these days (but I don’t think we’ll be seeing a special showing at the White House, and/or an enthusiastic tweet from El Presidente).

Cosas Feas is also very Mexican. There’s a gonzo/ Felliniesque distorted realism, but also a peculiar humanity. Characters that are alien in how they act and look come off as sympathetic.

After all, the real aliens come from inside us, rather than outer space.

Ernest Hogan will be at Phoenix Comic Fest, May 24-26, helping his wife Emily Devenport publicize her new book Medusa Uploaded, as well has his own activities.

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