Nueba Yol – Flapping Fish Out Of Water

Quick Thoughts: Nueba Yol (Big Apple, 1995)

Made by Ángel Muñiz, this is the Dominican Republic film of the series.

My incredibly rudimentary understanding of Spanish was taken to its edge with this film as I had to watch it without subtitles. So, suffice to say that my years of high school Spanish helped… but not too much. I could follow Nueba Yol’s (slang for Big Apple) narrative with ease and picked up the major beats, but the details of scenes often went over my head. I was nonetheless immersed into this film for the most part (the final act is a little slow and clunky) thanks to its visual story telling, performances and a somewhat predictable story. And I say predictable in a way that is not fully critical. Whilst this is the common fish-out-of-water, simple foreigner or outsider in a big city, story, it is considerably different from the likes of Crocodile Dundee, Coming To America, Home Alone 2, The Gods Must Be Crazy or Jungle To Jungle. Nueba Yol captures the sense of loss, alienation and confusion that is common in all of these films, but combines this with comedy without cheapening the emotional weight of the picture. In such, this is not like Crocodile Dundee, which, though it is good fun, finds no real conflict in the fish-out-of-water elements of the narrative. Nueba Yol is a film about optimism and hope in face of disaster and continual misfortune. So, though this isn’t gritty and realist, Nueba Yol finds a nice balance between comedy, romance, character and drama.

Whilst this isn’t a masterpiece, more so a competent and memorable piece of entertainment, it is understandable that Nueba Yol would be one of the most popular films from Dominican Republic ever made. If your Spanish is better than mine or you find a copy with subtitles, I’d recommend giving this one a watch.

 

 

 

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Man Of The Soil – Life Is Here

Quick Thoughts: Man Of The Soil (Nom Tèw, 2009)

Made by Pierre Deschamps, this is the Domican film of the series.

Man Of The Soil is a short documentary that follows a native Dominican, Jerry Maka West, as he forages through the forest, collecting coconuts, bananas and water for his small home embedded in the dense greenery. With some luscious cinematography and direction, this silently observes man’s interaction with the Nature Isle of the Caribbean, providing a moment of contemplation on the way in which city life on the island differs from the interior life. Concluding the simple piece with reflection, Jerry defines this story with the words:

Children should listen to their mum and dad. Life is the soil. Since I have been a child I have been working the ground with my grandma and grandpa. This is the life within me. So, life is the soil, the river and the sea. Life is here.

With this, a collectivist sentiment is imbued into the film. Though Jerry appears alone, he asserts that he is not just apart of the land, but a product of it just as much as he is a product of his parents and their parents before him. This dual contrast between interior living and city life and collective ideals and individuality may comment on the developing culture and economy of the island which, following a history of British colonial invasion that involved slave trade, has slowly grown, and in more recent decades, this has been due tourism, trade and the island hosting an off-shore banking industry.

Sombre and simple, Man Of The Soil is worth checking out: www.imdb.com/videoplayer/vi463471641

 

 

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