Directed by Arturo Ripstein
Two wrestlers decide to go to a hotel in order to meet two prostitutes.
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★★★★ review by Carlos Valladares on Letterboxd
Arturo Ripstein’s Bleak Street is a crude, black-and-black, unsentimental view of desperation and woe on Mexico’s Poverty Row. Despite what Variety or The A.V. Club might make you think, psychologically complex characters are not this film’s goal. It milks a mood (down-and-dirty Mexican backstreets) for all it’s worth, and for a higher purpose. This is fairy tale journalism drenched in mercury and sewage. It has the raggedness of a soiled comic book: used-up, forgotten, yet glinting with occasional hints of hushed-“a” artistry. The pop of Ripstein’s bas-relief stems from its unflinching commitment to portraying the muck of Mexico’s fallen and forgotten.
★★★½ review by Filipe Furtado on Letterboxd
Sometimes plays too much like misery for misery’s sake even as it avoids the more cheap pity effects that could come with it, but Ripstein’s tonal and formal control is just terrific. It would be worth suffering through Bleak Street on the strength of Ripstein’ camera movements alone.
★★★½ review by Jeremy Heilman on Letterboxd
Well, that certainly lived up to the title! This wheezing, curdled melodrama from Mexican auteur Ripstein kicks the rotting corpse of his country's cinematic golden age. Set in the vilest of slums, the film recounts a true-crime story in which two midget luchadores are drugged by two aging prostitues. Through its slow crawl though the gutter, Ripstein's black-and-white photography captures a system of exploitation that only encourages further exploitation. Moments of sad sisterhood, proud brotherhood and ersatz motherhood hint at how they all cope. Like film noir, with all of the thrills bled out.
★★★★½ review by Bart D'Alauro on Letterboxd
It's a lot grubbier and more unpleasant than I tend to like my movies, but this thing is a major artistic achievement and I'm surprised it hasn't gotten more attention. I've been aware of Arturo Ripstein since Deep Crimson but this is the first film of his I've seen. If this kind of quality is typical of his lesser known films, I guess I've gotta get to his better known ones immediately. The lighting design is like nothing I've seen before - beautiful black & white photography with deep expressionistic shadows turns every nasty back alley and filthy bedroom into a fairy tale noir wonderland, but obscures all of the actors' faces. The wrestling midgets who never take off their masks are the only immediately identifiable characters - it takes a while to distinguish one middle-aged prostitute or useless drunken husband from another because they're always shrouded in darkness. I suppose the idea is to suggest the invisibility and anonymity of the impoverished masses, as if this story has been repeated endlessly in every rundown, forgotten corner of every city throughout history. Interesting twist on the film noir formula in that the pair of femme fatales are also the easily led astray chump figures. So glad I stopped avoiding this one and finally gave it a look.
★★★★ review by Bartman on Letterboxd
A film set among the hookers, beggars and midget wrestlers (that's right, midget wrestlers) of Mexico City, filmed by director Arturo Ripstein and cinematographer Alejandro Cantúin in astonishing black and white, their camera gliding through elegantly choreographed long takes.
Enlivened with deadpan humour and dark poetry, like a Tom Waits song turned into a Spanish language feature.
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