Dominican-based Cuban Luis Beiro Alvarez says in his most recent book The Screen Upside Down: “A movie is not good or bad in itself. Its importance has to do with the impact and the permanence power it causes on its viewers.”1 According to the above, cinematic codes seem to move to the background. It matters that a film is welcomed by the public. But what does your transcendence really depend on? Aren’t an outcome being overvalued? The quote has been written by Beiro about the shocking American series The Walking Dead, which he acknowledges, with complete success, boldness and ethical warnings.
The impact and permanence power of the seventh art – or of any respectable audiovisual – are mediated, first, by the freedom and arrangement of the codes that, in addition to remembering that cinema was in its beginnings show of fair and then art, responds to technical-formal conventions that particularize it which art, technique and communication system. Otherwise, Beiro would not have also recognized that “cinema is not a joyful element that is made possible by the gears of inspiration”2 or “When a work is authentic art, it ignites the debate between filmmakers of various latitudes”,3 debate of filmmakers trained or specialized in reception, without underestimating. Don’t forget the neglect or contempt of connoisseurs towards some works of the seventh art. Beiro aims to register:
“Cinema is not only thought and action, but also technical. A technique that produces money, like all techniques. A refined art, an integrator of manifestations that cannot be confined to the narrow framework of an industry, although it must march in line with it for multiple extra-cinematographic reasons.”4
Knowing the large and small screen, the author has been able to sketch themes both inherent in the film act itself and those that are then assimilated or conquered by the magic and audiovisual empire of it.
At first glance, the whole is of fragmentary promiscuity. Now, by gathering chapter-themed passages, you are given a non-trivial internal organization. What backs him up? The spontaneous and enjoyable writing of those who get, fortunately, an open colloquial tone in subjects that another researcher would have complicated without any need.
The backhand screen is a reference material, especially for the Dominican Republic: it gathers various notes on the cinematography of the country. They are often notes or valuation reviews with inescapable references around the role of the director, casting, staging, theme, plot rhythm, story and performances. Beiro also considers extracinematographic aspects in appearance, which have an impact on a film: the reception of it or the historical and cultural context that determines it. It’s worth stopping at the “Come on, my thought” page. It doesn’t matter if you start with him or leave it for the end. The reader could first attend the sections “Confessions” and “All mixed”.
In “All Mixed”, he is able to encrypt issues of interest, where history and particular criteria manage to transit together. Even when it looks like you’re going to come back to what’s already known in texts like “The Movies about Che” or “Oscar-winning Remakes,” you’ll find odd opinions. The author has not only seen and read about cinema, but can exercise judgment with knowledge of causes and results. The pages about the treatment of che’s figure in cinema and those that review “Cervantes as a fictional character” and “Cinema in enclosed spaces”, “Footprints of the zombies” and “The road movie: history and evolution” are worthy of attention for synthesizing data and stimulating the curiosity of the reader/viewer.
In “Zombie Confessions” an intermediate amenity is achieved that the also editor of the cultural section Ventana of the newspaper Listín Diario has without discussion. He summons and knows how to seize the moments of talk when not of remembrance. There are interviews in the traditional way: face-to-face or questionnaire questions and answers. Here I point out the not always fortunate mix of questions about the cinematic to actresses and directors with those excluded from the profession. The intimate can be included in subtle statements about profession and life. Nearby, we come across revelations referred to by an encounter, where opinions of the dialogue’s protagonist: the word are inserted. In this second option, he is more competent because more creativity is required as when, for example, he inserts other people’s parliaments into a narrative of his harvest. Not for nothing, the most original part of the book is the prologue. Starting from an anecdote with the writer Carlos Fuentes, to relate it precisely to cinema, is of an appreciable cunning by the association.
In “Anda, my thought” we find texts of unequal quality, both in writing and in content. There are asomos of criterion exercises in these journalistic notes. Rarely does he suggest more than he analyzes; points to more than it rehearses or notifies an assessment that requires prior or subsequent examination. More than explanations, we read glosses about movies. But film reviews, in rigor, do not abound, except “Accounts receivable”, “Beast of Thistle” or “South of Innocence”, to name three good examples. In fact, “South of Innocence” is one of the best critical texts of The Screen… I take a fragment that allows me to illustrate what I say:
“As the film progresses, the main story is truncated and although the open end suggests a continuity, only one tourist reference (photography) is achieved, oblivious to the real problems affecting the lung of that piece of homeland called ‘Deep South’. Very well that photography and those colors for tourist-style documentaries because they capture the landscape with all its external splendor. But the camera doesn’t get into the heart of history. It’s not the photographer’s fault, it’s the script that didn’t demand further sacrifices.”5
The quote is true film review. Much of the rest of “Anda, my thought” is appreciated as an informative record about Dominican cinema. The scattered references, when they meet, acquire a new value suitable for the comparison, as well as visibility of advances, stagnations and utopias by the audiovisuals achieved.
The absence of pedantry is to be praised. Of course, precise and direct – qualifiers employed by Luis Beiro Alvarez to refer to the filmmaker José María Cabral – fit his score. However, a very careful edition would have supported the intellectual sobriety of The Screen upside down, a volume showing the reveals and sensitivities of a filmmaker. Doesn’t that represent another way to promote cinema? Ω
1 Luis Beiro Alvarez: The screen upside down, Santo Domingo, Banreservas, 2017, p. 217.
2 Ibid., p. 234.
3 Ibid., p. 219.
4 Ibid., p. 118.
5 Ibid., p. 93.