A list that includes great Mexican films in which Mexico City plays a role of its own.
Roma (2018), Alfonso Cuarón’s latest masterpiece, is a homage to much of his childhood and the women who raised him as well as the city where he grew up. “Roma” may be Spanish for Rome, but the name of the film is actually a reference to none other than Mexico’s City most vibrant neighborhood, where Cuarón grew up and where much of the film takes places.
However, you could also say Roma is a homage to 1970 Mexico City, since it recreates many of the city’s landscape with the help of CGI. It features older buildings, lifestyles, movies that were played then, old cars, an facades from yesteryear. For all of its beauty, Roma is a film that induces nostalgia for a now long lost city, as well as an appreciation of the city’s rapidly changing landscape. The film, however, joins a pretty solid list of films in which Mexico City is also character. Here are some of the most memorable of them:
Amores Perros (2000) - Dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu
Amores Perros is Alejandro González Iñárritu’s fantastic 2000 debut. It’s a choral film, meaning that it tells three separate stories that intertwine during a car crash. A normal guy turned into a dog fighter gambler, a Spanish super model crippled after the car accident, and a homeless man who collects dogs. The film is a crude look into a side that makes the city so devastatingly cruel.
Museo (2018) - Dir. Alonso Ruiz Palacios
Though not much of this film actually takes places in Mexico City, it does feature one of its most famous suburbs: Ciudad Satélite (literally satellite city), Mexico City’s New Jersey. Museo tells the story of a true life robbery of Mexico’s Anthropology Museum, home of the Aztec Calendar. The characters are a couple of good for nothing college kids who decide to make the robbery of the century, feeling tired of waiting for something to happen in their lives.
Güeros (2014) - Dir. Alonso Ruiz Palacios
This Mexican film boasts an interesting concept: a road film that doesn’t go out on the road, but on Mexico City’s streets. From the South to the West, to Downtown, the film is a intimate look at the city life and with many interior shots, it delves into normal lives of “chilangos” (Mexico City’s unofficial demonym), eager to make something of their post-college lives. A fun and oftentimes funny adventure featuring both güeros (Mexican slang for a white person) and morenos.
Los Caifanes (1967) - Juan Ibánez
A Mexican 1967 classic, in which a couple wanders through Mexico City looking for a place to get intimate. A true portrait of the nightlife in the city, popular Mexican slang, and the exciting and psychedelic sixties in Mexico’s capital.
El Complot Mongol (The Mongolian Conspiracy, 2019) - Rafael Bernal
This movie is set in 1950 in small but quaint Mexico City’s Chinatown. It follows the story of Filiberto García, a Mexican detective set to investigate a Chinese immigrant plot to murder John F. Kennedy during his visit to Mexico. A 1977 version is utterly enjoyable but a remake, set to be released in 2019, will surely adopt a much funnier and satirical tone.
Mexico City lives through Mexican movies and thanks to critically acclaimed and highly successful Roma, we can perhaps attempt to dig deeper into one of the biggest cities in the World.
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