-->
Film

Duck Season (Temporada de Patos) (2004)

Michael Buening

The kids are not infused with precocious cynicism or degeneracy. They are optimistic, as befits their age.

Duck Season (Temporada de Patos)

Director: Fernando Eimbcke
Cast: Arreola, Danny Perea, Diego Cataño, Daniel Miranda
MPAA rating: R
Studio: Cinepantera and Lulú Producciones
First date: 2004
US Release Date: 2006-03-10 (Limited release)

The comic coming-of-age drama Duck Season (Temporada de Patos) opens with a series of establishing shots outside the Nonoalco Tlatelolco Housing Development in Mexico City. The playgrounds are largely empty; the concrete grounds are designed with brute bleakness. From here, the film moves inside a cramped apartment in the complex where two friends, Flama (Daniel Miranda) and Moko (Diego Cataño), while away a lazy Sunday home alone.

Bored 14-year-olds, Flama is tall and wiry and Moko shorter and curly-haired. They wear the tentative ornaments of imminent teenage rebellion, a black studded bracelet and a Rancid T-shirt. After Flama's mother leaves for work, the boys prepare for their day, pouring Coke to the absolute tops of their glasses, ordering pizza, setting the clock to time the 30 minute guarantee, arguing over who gets to play who in Halo. (They use the names "Bush" and "bin Laden" without political intent, the same lackadaisical reason my friends and I used O.J. trial monikers in my day.) They don't speak of the looming change before them: Flama is about to move and neither knows how his Sundays will be spent in the future.

And so they find distraction in their game, barely looking up when Rita (Danny Perea), a slightly older neighbor, asks to use their oven. Their eyes remain locked on the television and their hands unconsciously jerking their Xbox controllers to the onscreen action. They do pay attention when the pizza deliveryman Ulises (Enrique Arreola) finally shows up, 11 seconds late. Flama refuses to pay him and Ulises refuses to leave without being paid. A power outage ends the game prematurely. The four, stuck inside, find new ways to entertain themselves, primarily through conversation.

The transition from the initial set-up to the four characters bonding is rickety and a bit forced. That Ulises waits to get paid is inexplicable and for stretches, they all list about and don't appear to know what to do next. Eventually they pair off. Ulises tells Flama about his aimless life with a useless college degree and a series of dead-end jobs that reached a low point putting dogs to sleep at a pound (revealed in disturbing flashback); Rita enlists Moko's help in baking the cake in hopes of making out with him.

The structure of the Duck Season is similar to that of The Breakfast Club, complete with pot-influenced heart-to-hearts, but in style it's closer to a long tradition of modest, naturalistic youth portraits ranging from The 400 Blows to Raising Victor Vargas. Co-released by Alfonso Cuaron's Esperanto Filmoj production company, it shares his approach to coming-of-age stories, insightful, respectful, and suffused with youthful whimsy and melancholy.

Unlike most youth films, which use visual kinetics as a primary tool, this one uses long static takes and occasionally distracting angles (shots from inside the oven or refrigerator). Editor Marianna Rodriguez provides a stubbornly steady rhythm that enhances the few moments of fast-paced action, as when the new friends shoot dinner plates with a bb gun, do headstands, or stuff themselves with junk food.

The staid images are offset by Eimbecke's refreshing choice not to infuse his young characters with precocious cynicism or degeneracy. They are optimistic, as befits their age. Trapped within the apartment complex, the kids face a world outside that's not much better, dirty and lonely. Flama is about to move away due to his parent's custody battle; Moko struggles with intense feelings for Flama; Rita perceives her own family as negligent. For them, Ulises is a depressing portent of years to come. Still, he finds hope in a tacky painting of ducks, over which Flama's parents are fighting, an effective symbol of the desire for change. His vision leaves open Duck Season's patchy, multi-layered tale of growing up.

Music

The Best Indie Rock of 2017

Photo courtesy of Matador Records

The indie rock genre is wide and unwieldy, but the musicians selected here share an awareness of one's place on the cultural-historical timeline.

Indie rock may be one of the most fluid and intangible terms currently imposed upon musicians. It holds no real indication of what the music will sound like and many of the artists aren't even independent. But more than a sonic indicator, indie rock represents a spirit. It's a spirit found where folk songsters and punk rockers come together to dialogue about what they're fed up with in mainstream culture. In so doing they uplift each other and celebrate each other's unique qualities.

With that in mind, our list of 2017's best indie rock albums ranges from melancholy to upbeat, defiant to uplifting, serious to seriously goofy. As always, it's hard to pick the best ten albums that represent the year, especially in such a broad category. Artists like King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard had a heck of a year, putting out four albums. Although they might fit nicer in progressive rock than here. Artists like Father John Misty don't quite fit the indie rock mold in our estimation. Foxygen, Mackenzie Keefe, Broken Social Scene, Sorority Noise, Sheer Mag... this list of excellent bands that had worthy cuts this year goes on. But ultimately, here are the ten we deemed most worthy of recognition in 2017.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less
Music

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

Keep reading... Show less

It's ironic that by injecting a shot of cynicism into this glorified soap opera, Johnson provides the most satisfying explanation yet for the significance of The Force.

Despite J.J. Abrams successfully resuscitating the Star Wars franchise with 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many fans were still left yearning for something new. It was comforting to see old familiar faces from a galaxy far, far away, but casual fans were unlikely to tolerate another greatest hits collection from a franchise already plagued by compositional overlap (to put it kindly).

Keep reading... Show less
7

Yeah Yeah Yeahs played a few US shows to support the expanded reissue of their debut Fever to Tell.

Although they played a gig last year for an after-party for a Mick Rock doc, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hadn't played a proper NYC show in four years before their Kings Theatre gig on November 7th, 2017. It was the last of only a handful of gigs, and the only one on the East coast.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image