Here’s the thing: Inflation is on the rise. The currency is taking a nosedive. There’s this unshakeable feeling of dread and uncertainty in the air, like we’re all stumbling around in the dark trying to figure our way out of an insurmountably large maze which also happens to be on fire. So we turn to the arts to keep us entertained in these trying, tumultuous times. Thankfully, we live in an era where keeping yourself distracted by stories and pretty lights is easier than ever!
However, maybe you don’t want to live your house; movie theater tickets are ridiculously expensive, and every screen is currently crowded with overzealous Marvel fans. So we turn to the streaming options, but we also don’t want to feel completely alienated from the country and culture that surrounds us. So in an effort to help our overall state of malaise while also not surrendering completely to escapism, we have put together a list of ten Argentine titles currently streaming on Netflix. We have a healthy mix of genres to look at, so let’s get right to it.
Mi Obra Maestra
We start things off with a bit of a lighter title, with this charming comedy by director Gastón Duprat (an Argentine filmmaker who is famous for, among other films, El Hombre de Al Lado). This film, starring the ever-watchable Guillermo Francella and Luis Brandoni, tells the story of a smarmy art gallery owner and a slovenly painter as they attempt to revive the latter’s floundering career. Of course, being the type of movie that this is, this leads to a risky ruse that might destroy both careers. It’d be disingenuous to say that this movie is especially illuminating in any meaningful way, but it’s a pleasant, breezy watch.
Abzurdah is an adaptation of an autobiographical novel by Cielo Latini. It is, essentially, a coming-of-age story framed through the burgeoning era of early social media. Cielo is a high school student who meets an older man through the internet, and uses this new relationship as a way to cope with her personal alienation from the world around her. It’s a sharp, incisive film, with a lot to say about how we relate to each other. It’s especially interesting to note that shortly after making Abzurdah, director Daniela Goggi went on to make the execrable The Red Thread, and, well, we’ve already said quite a bit about that one.
Pizza, Birra, Faso
It’s hard not to see Pizza, Birra, Faso as a kind of Argentine response to the grimy, low-budget, dialogue-based slice-of-life films of the 90s indie movement- from Slacker to Clerks to Kids. It captures a similar feeling of teenage malaise, capturing the lives of a group of teenagers who live in the same house and get by through petty crime. This film was also a huge hit, and its influence on the next wave of Argentine cinema was massive.
Esperando La Carroza
Out of all the Argentine films I’ve ever recommended to people over the years, I can confidently say that Esperando la Carroza has always gotten the biggest reaction. Is it because it’s head-and-shoulders above the rest in terms of quality? No, absolutely not. Instead, it’s because of its laugh-out-loud hilarious, wildly irreverent, joyfully unpredictable nature. Developing a cult following over the years, this 1985 adaptation of a stage play follows the story of a family conflict over the supposed suicide of the family matriarch. Sounds like a grisly premise for a comedy, but this classic example of costumbrismo bridges the gap between slapstick and black comedy beautifully.
The Official Story
The first Argentine film to win an Oscar is also one of the most poignant movie-watching experiences you’re likely to embark upon. A stately, elegant piece of filmmaking that deals with themes of guilt, loss, identity, and the horrors of war. It tells the story of a family who adopts a daughter and later comes to realize that she might have been one of the children who were disappeared during the military dictatorship between 1976-1983. True, this may not exactly be a hilarious romp that’ll take your mind off your troubles, but it’s a rewarding and uniquely powerful experience altogether.
Hey, speaking of grisly, how about a straight-up horror film? Director Demián Rugna’s 2017 smash hit is about a group of paranormal researches attempting to explain the strange events that occur in a Buenos Aires neighborhood. The highly acclaimed film was one of the great success stories of the Buenos Aires Rojo Sangre horror film festival, and went on to cause waves worldwide. For a film genre that has long been ignored by local audiences as well as the international stage, it was quite invigorating to have a film that’s so vibrant and well-regarded, as well as absolutely ruthless in its execution.
Another film by Gastón Duprat, this time co-directing with Mariano Cohn. This film follows the story of a character named Mr. Mantovani, a Nobel Prize winner who accepts an invitation to return to his hometown in Argentina. It is a comedy, yes, and it is filled with clever moments of understated hilarity, but it is also a thoughtful exploration of art and the human condition.
Lucía Puenzo’s 2007 debut film was a smash success as well as a topic of controversy during its time on the marquee. It deals with the struggles of an intersex individual as she attempts to make sense of her identity and struggles to accept herself in the world she lives in. It’s an interesting film that deals with themes of identity and sexuality in a heteronormative, body-shaming world. Though some of its depictions and creative decisions might raise objections in today’s social climate, its emotional weight rings true.
Pablo Giorgelli’s film isn’t about causing big stirs. It isn’t about trying to rile you up about a particular cause or create some sort of massive statement. It’s a quiet, intimate story about a young girl whose unexpected pregnancy throws her world into disarray, and the decisions stemming from it. It’s lovely, heartbreaking, unassuming, and one of our favorite films from the 2017 installment of the Mar del Plata film festival.
What can we say about Los Simuladores that we haven’t already said? If you haven’t read our look back at the series and its influence on Argentine television (and culture as a whole), do yourself a favor and start there. Thankfully, the entire series is available to stream both on Netflix as well as YouTube if you don’t subscribe to the streaming platform (which would lead us to wonder why you’re even reading this article in the first place, but hey, who are we to judge?).