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Iolanthe's Quotable Viggo

Found By: Iolanthe

When Kyle Lee of Box Office Prophets called Juaja 'one of the great westerns ever made, and possibly the most unusual' I realised I'd never thought of the film as a western, but all the elements of some of cinema's most iconic westerns are there – the wide open spaces in which people are almost lost, the taking of land from native peoples, the lurking threat of hidden violence, the search for someone missing in a hostile environment, the trying to hold on to the familiar when transplanted into another world. But Jauja is also so much more – a Quixotic journey through an environment where dreams and reality flow into each other and become something strange and wonderful. I think it's time to put the Bluray back in the player and see this magical and mysterious film again...

I've now seen Lisandro Alonso's captivating, unearthly Jauja four times, and I don't think I'm any closer to telling you what it's all about; the more I see it, the more puzzled I am. Alonso likes to traffic in the oblique — in the blank, mysterious spaces between the ostensible realities onscreen. That sounds like a lot of hooey, but watching Jauja, which is certainly one of the best films of the year, I never once doubted that I was in the hands of a master filmmaker.

Bilge Ebiri
21 March 2015

The faint echo of The Searchers' plot should already make it clear that this is a deconstructed western (the relationship between man and his surroundings is where Alonso and Ford's westerns overlap). But it's one that, slightly reminiscent of Miguel Gomes' Tabu a couple of years before it, seems in dialogue with silent cinema, with its Academy (4:3 aspect ratio) format and rounded corners, as well as Viggo Mortensen's brilliant but largely wordless performance...

CineScope Blog
21 December 2014

Mustachioed, astride his horse in a cavalry uniform, sword in sheath and a splendid hat on his head, he is reminiscent of John Wayne in the early John Ford films.

Franck Nouchi - translated by Ollie and Zoe
Le Monde
19 May 2014

[Dinesen's] off the map even before he's robbed of his horse and most of his possessions; from the start he's destined to be lost in and swallowed up by nature, red in tooth and claw and utterly disinterested in the plight of insignificant humans... Like all of us, he's a rationalist who expects the world to work a certain way, and is helpless when it does not...

Matt Prigge
Metro (US)
20 March 2015

'Sometimes it was quite awkward and tiring to tramp around in that heavy greatcoat, wearing those slippery-soled riding boots, tripping over that saber. But I found that all of that helped me construct a sort of Danish Don Quixote, a man who has no idea how clumsy he seems in those landscapes, once he is off his horse.'

Mortensen plays a Danish engineer in Patagonia
by Pam Grady
San Francisco Chronicle
14 May 2015

'Dinesen is a surveyor and scientist, very northern European, very rational, everything has to have a logical explanation… And in that way my character is very determined – like if you are going to do a job, you might as well do it correctly, and in a timely fashion. And if someone says, 'Well, we're having tea at 4.30pm on Tuesday', you say, 'Well, I'll be there'. But it's Argentina, so whoever you were going to meet might turn up on Wednesday, or maybe he doesn't.'

Viggo Mortensen
Jauja: Interview with Viggo Mortensen
by Pamela Jahn
Electric Sheep
16 October 2014

"I find him an admirable character in a way," says the 56-year-old actor. "He's so obtuse, even when he doesn't know where he's going or why he's going or who he is, he still keeps moving forward. It's his stubbornness which I find both pathetic and endearing and, as I say, admirable."

Interview: Viggo Mortensen
Tobias Grey
The Financial Times
27 March 2015

As [Dinesen] progresses through this limbo-like landscape we watch him gradually transforming, Mortenson's weathered features becoming akin to the rocks surrounding him. As he emerges from within dark cracks, kneels to sip dripping streams or dozes underneath the stars, he melts into the environment, the boundaries of Dineson's self slowly eroding into the Patagonian dirt.

David James
6 April 2015

The film is framed in a 4:3 aspect ratio and, most strikingly, sports rounded corners on its images. That relatively constricted vision (somehow the rounded corners highlight how quickly the world slips out of view as the camera pans) is offset by the incredible depth that Alonso and masterful cinematographer Timo Salminen produce in their shots. In the open desert, fading gradually from sharp clarity in the foreground to the soft blur of the horizon, the images seem to connote infinity...

Tomas Hachard
19 March 2015

...the landscapes remind us that 'Scope is not indispensable for evoking vastness: the tight parameters of these frames encourage us to imagine an infinity outside their edges. Rich colors suggest both dream and the artifice of Hollywood Westerns: deep blue clouds on a sky fading to yellow at its base resemble a painted backdrop; pools of golden firelight in a night shot are manifestly lit, as if on a studio set.

Jonathan Romney
Film Comment
19 March 2015

Sweating in layers of bulky long johns, and sporting a droopy, weeping mustache, Mortensen carries the film, his human grumbling and surprised, rageful violence conveying the sense of a nervous, basically average man caught on a journey into his own heart of darkness. Increasingly, as the other characters drop away, Mortensen has nothing to play against but nature and himself.

Mark Asch
Brooklyn Magazine
7 October 2014

'Dinesen is a man who seems to cope well with loneliness, but finally he becomes lost in it. He goes out in the desert trying to find his daughter, but in the end we realize that he is also tracking down his wife, his mother, all women and men in the world, his own childhood, his country and his death'

Viggo Mortensen
An Anarchist in the Closet
By Viggo Mortensen - translated by Chrissie and Ollie
Pagina 12
27 October 201

We're as lost as Mortensen's protagonist, and we feel the weight of it acutely. The semi-flat steppes all look the same in every direction, and the minutes tick by, until eventually night falls and we lose our bearings completely.

Michael Atkinson
In These Times
18 March 2015

"There's a lot of entering and coming out of dreams, a lot of transitions in the movie… By the end of the story, you don't know if we're being dreamed, or if the characters are all dreamed, or if it's a dog's dream or the girl's dream. In a way, it doesn't matter. It's what it stimulates."

Interview with Actor Viggo Mortensen
Nick Chen
London Calling
7 April 2015

What kind of western ever gets us to ask these kinds of questions? One of the greatest, that's what kind. A true Hidden Gem.

Hidden Gems: Jauja
Kyle Lee
Box Office Prophets
31 May 2018

You will find all previous Quotables

© Viggo-Works/Iolanthe. Images © 4L Productions.

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'Jauja' Wins Cinema Tropical Awards

Source: The Hollywood Reporter.
Found By: CoCo
Thanks to CoCo for bringing us this wonderful news from The Hollywood Reporter.

The only U.S. awards dedicated to LatAm cinema named the Viggo Mortensen-starrer best Latin American film of the year.

© Getty Images.
Argentinean film Jauja, directed by Lisandro Alonso and starring Viggo Mortensen, was the winner of the best Latin American film of the year award at the sixth annual Cinema Tropical Awards, which were announced on Wednesday at a special event at The New York Times Company headquarters.

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In praise of Viggo Mortensen and the interdependent actor

Source: A.V. Club.
Found By: Kath
Categories: Jauja Media
Many thanks to Kath for bringing us this piece from A.V. Club.
© 4L Productions.
By Ignatiy Vishnevetsky

This year's Oscar nominations will be announced on January 14. Will the Academy uphold conventional wisdom or think outside of the box? With Oscar This, we highlight unlikely candidates—the dark horses we'd love to see compete.

Not to rag too much on The Revenant, but there was another man-vs.-primeval-wilderness movie that came out last year that had a more complex lead role, or at least a lead performance that mattered more. This would be Jauja, a droll frontier Western set and shot in Argentina, which is also where some parts of The Revenant were filmed. And because I'm apparently in the business of comparing Alejandro González Iñárritu's presumptive multi-nominee to other, better movies, I can't help but point out that Jauja was also filmed almost entirely outdoors and that it also depicts the violent encroachment of white settlers into indigenous lands, and that, like The Revenant, it has mystical overtones of transformation and allegory and that its main character is, like The Revenant's Hugh Glass, a widower who has come to the frontier for work and has brought his teenage child with him.

This is Captain Gunnar Dinesen, a Danish military engineer played with a lot of nuance by Viggo Mortensen. Mortensen, a Danish-American raised partly in Argentina, is the only actor who could play Dinesen. (Compare that to Leonardo DiCaprio, certain to get an Best Actor nomination for playing Hugh Glass, a role that could be better served by any number of actors, including DiCaprio's own co-star in The Revenant, Tom Hardy.) But despite his behind-the-scenes involvement with Jauja (as producer, composer, and even subtitle proofreader), the movie doesn't come across as a Mortensen vanity project. Maybe that's because Mortensen, an actor with an amazing instinct for subtlety and believability, is incapable of coming across as vain.

Or perhaps it's because Jauja is such an offbeat, singular vision, being both a refinement and a clarification of its director's pet themes of alienation and creation myth. Make no mistake: This is a movie only Lisandro Alonso could make, but it also couldn't be realized without Mortensen, whose characterization of Dinesen is as essential to the whole as the landscape and the period setting. Because they evolved out of a tradition that valued directors chiefly as individual artists, art films and underground movies—basically, anything that falls into the umbrella category of "you're not your getting money back" filmmaking—are all too rarely discussed in terms of acting. And, sure, part of that has to do with their storied tradition of affectless performance, and the fact that the audience for so-called "festival fare" has, over decades, come to expect bad, flat acting as a trade-off of different ambitions.

At the same time, this is also where you'll find the most interdependence between style and star. That covers everything from Taiwanese filmmaker Tsai Ming-liang's long-running collaboration with the stone-faced Lee Kang-sheng and Pedro Costa's work with former bricklayer Ventura in Colossal Youth and Horse Money to the no-budget mumblecore chamber pieces Joe Swanberg seemed to make every other week in the early 2010s. Or, to cite a striking recent example, Joshua Burge's turn as a paranoid Midwestern loser named Marty Jackitansky in Joel Potrykus' Buzzard. (Just to bring it back around: Burge is in The Revenant.) These are movies that are never going to get nominated for Oscars. But even in the hypothetical situation where titles like Jauja and Buzzard—which feature two of the year's best lead performances, and also two of the most pathetic—would be in the running, one can't help but recognize that their relationship to acting as a component of a movie is at odds with the Hollywood norm.

The old joke about the Oscars is the "Best" of any category really means "Most," and there's a long tradition with leads, especially male leads, being rewarded for putting a lot of strenuous physical effort into a role. But let's suppose that film acting is something more than just acting in front of a camera. The Revenant—which I actually kind of like, even though I can't resist bringing it up as a Goofus example—would be more or less the same with a different or a less committed performance, or even a different main character. But in a movie like Jauja, where the meaning of any given shot is directly dependent on Mortensen's subtle looks of exasperation and isolation, there is an interchange between movie and performance. Mortensen isn't just acting on screen; he is the film, even if the film isn't his. And perhaps this is just a thought experiment, but shouldn't we value that more?

© A.V. Club. Images © 4L Productions.

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Cinema Tropical Unveils Nominees for 2016 Awards

Source: The Hollywood Reporter.
Found By: Chrissie
Thanks to Chrissie for bringing us this news from The Hollywood Reporter.
© 4L Productions.
Twenty-nine films from 12 countries have been nominated in the sixth annual edition of the Cinema Tropical Awards.

The event is the only U.S. awards honoring the best of Latin American cinema of the year.

Nominations were announced in six categories: feature film, documentary film, director of a feature film, director of a documentary film, first film and U.S. Latino film.

A pioneer organization in promoting the release of independent LatAm cinema within the U.S., Cinema Tropical announced the full slate on Wednesday, including the five films competing for best feature film of the year: Chile's Oscar bid The Club by Pablo Larraín; Lisandro Alonso's Cannes-entry Jauja, starring Viggo Mortensen (Argentina); Oscar Ruiz Navia's Los Hongos (Colombia); Matías Piñeiro's The Princess of France (Argentina); and Adirley Queirós' White Out, Black In (Brazil).

© The Hollywood Reporter. Images © 4L Productions.

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Viggo in the New Zealand Herald

Source: The New Zealand Herald.
Found By: Chrissie

Thanks to Chrissie for the find. As a result of both Jauja and Far From Men screening at the New Zealand International Film Festival the following article has appeared in the New Zealand Herald.


Not home on the range

© 4L Productions.
by Helen Barlow

You wait for another Viggo Mortensen arthouse Western to come along and what do you know? Two show up at once.

The festival has a pair of such films featuring the actor formerly known as Aragorn, but while they may play like Westerns they are not cowboy movies.

Jauja, an Argentine-Danish-French production by Argentine director Lisandro Alonso, was a prize winner in Cannes last year; while David Oelhoffen's French film and Venice prize winner, Far From Men, is a version of Albert Camus' short story The Guest.

The latter film is set during the 1954 Algerian War and follows Daru, a reclusive French teacher, and Mohamed (Reda Kateb), a dissident Arabic villager accused of murder as they forge a special bond. In the midst of an icy winter they are forced to flee across the Atlas Mountains with horsemen on their trails.

"It's a very challenging story and I like a challenge," notes Mortensen, "Since his wife's death, Daru's living in the past, he's running away from life and Mohamed helps him realise that he doesn't want to do that anymore.

"I like this historical period in North Africa and this particular situation," he continues. "I also thought of other colonial situations, the conflict between other supposed civilising societies, whether it be in North America or in South America where I was raised, in Argentina. The consequences of that clash are felt for generations and generations. It takes a long time to get past the damage on both sides."

Perfecting his French for his first French-speaking role, and learning Arabic, proved much harder for the Spanish-resident multilingual actor.

"I speak far better French in the film than I normally do," he concedes. "I also had to change the accent I learned when I was young, which is more of a Quebec sound. I had to learn Arabic from scratch and it helped that I knew Spanish, as there are certain sounds that are not so different. I went to Algeria before we started shooting and spent some time there."

Jauja follows a father and daughter who venture from Denmark to Patagonia, where the girl elopes with an Argentinian only for Dad to track them through the wilderness.

Mortensen is back on horseback, roaming Argentina's rural north, where he holidayed as a child. "I copied my father, who speaks Spanish with a thick Danish accent, for the character. It was helpful that I had such strong connections with the culture, the language and the landscape."

Who: Viggo Mortensen
What: Jauja (screening July 25 and July 30); Far From Men (screening July 26 and 29)

© NZME Publishing Limited . Images © 4L Productions.

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Last edited: 12 February 2019 09:50:13