Los Hongos

Best friends Ras and Calvin are street artists with limited resources but big ambitions to alter their local surroundings for the better. The two traverse Cali on bike and skateboard, scouting for surfaces to decorate with whatever paint they can scavenge. Inspired by news of the Arab Spring uprisings, they dream of collaborating on a vast mural (with graffiti artist Mario Wize) that will express solidarity with Egypt’s student demonstrators. As Ras and Calvin explore Cali’s streets and leave their mark on its underpasses and alleyways, Ruiz Navia’s film bears witness to a new generation gradually finding its place in a rapidly changing world.


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  • ★★★★ review by Luís on Letterboxd

    Hmm, compared to the rest of Colombian films I've seen, this is special because of its thematic approach. Kind of "accurate portrait" of the underground scene from Colombian cities. The acting is SOMETIMES just bad. But, overall is one of the best Colombian releases from recent years.

    — "The problem is al always the money."

  • ★★★★½ review by Melody on Letterboxd

    "When we get back I want to paint my grandmother."

    "I want to finish the mural we were working on."

    "I think we already finished it."

    "Then I'll go paint my mother."

    "I want to paint my mother too."

    "The only problem is money."

    Whenever I get behind on MUBI's offerings I'm never sure whether to start stockpiling the expired on my iPad (where they remain an extra 7 days on top of the site's 30) and catch up as completely as possible or just start over - but when a movie like this comes along it makes the former approach completely worth it.

    I wasn't entirely up on the specific political background to this (and it's a pretty political movie) but it seemed similar enough to the kind of unrest we've seen the world over, the little people fighting to be heard in what little way they can, and the law's response to peaceful protest being overly extreme. What really pulled me in was the central rebel graffiti artist (he's fired from work in the first 10 minutes for stealing paint - he steals more on the way out) with worthy intentions (his newest idea with his friend concerns feminism and the Arab Spring), the short scenes of him caring for his grandma as the undergoes chemotherapy - tender glimpses of him applying her lipstick, massaging her head as they fall asleep in the same bed - that kind of thing gets me every time because it's the kind of thing I've never been good at doing myself with my own relatives. It entirely humanises this guy and makes you want him to achieve whatever he's out to achieve (it's slowly revealed that the grandma was something of a rebel in her day too, you can see where he gets it from and her quiet encouragement is really sweet).

    I'm not much up on the graffiti underworld the movie serves almost as a straight documentary of too, but there too it really pulled me in, from the scene of them discussing the major work the movie centres around to the long panning shot of the wall - panning right during daylight as they work on it and then left at night as they finish it, just before the cops show up. The party scenes are the kind of scenes I'd never be comfortable at in my life, but they made me long for the sense of community that infuses the whole thing once the camera gets in deep enough. There's a strangeness to the ending that seems to say something about the juxtaposition between nature and the city (a shot of the friend's hand painting over political posters with a roller at the start is repeated here, with his hand empty running over wild moss) which didn't quite gel for me but it comes back to the beautiful exchange above, tying together their work, frowned upon by the law, and the reason they do it, perfectly. It's a movie that really lets you in - I found myself thinking that it did what it did better than Baz Luhrmann's latest Netflix project The Get Down which dealt with similar themes (and me being about as knowledgeable about hip hop as I am about graffiti - there's actually a line somewhere here connecting to the two but I forget what it was) - and I'll probably look at any graffiti I see quite differently in future.

    (minor points off for a slightly unnecessary scene involving the t-slur - though I guess I should say this may have been a subtitles thing…)

  • ★★★★ review by Francisco Zambrano on Letterboxd

    The freshness of Los Hongos, along with sometimes a stunning cinematography, makes it a must watch film for those who are still doubting about the Colombian cinéma's revival.

  • ★★★★ review by Luís on Letterboxd

    This is a very cute story. I loved it even more on a rewatch.

  • ★★★★ review by george the beast on Letterboxd

    Δεν ξέρω αν έχω ξαναδεί κολομβιανή ταινία ( νομίζω ναι αλλά πραγματικά δεν ξέρω) και αυτή εδώ είναι μια χαρά, περιγράφει την φιλία 2 γκραφιταδων που μαθαίνουν για την αραβική άνοιξη (που προσθέτει ένα ενδιαφέρον ότι ναι μεν τελικά απέτυχε αλλά ως γεγονός επηρέασε κόσμο) και πως θα κάνουν κάτι με αυτό ενώ τα οικονομικά τους είναι σκατα.

    Η σκηνοθεσία είναι απίστευτα καλή αλλά οι ερμηνείες είναι ώρες ώρες φριχτες με αποτέλεσμα να χάνει την δύναμη του ως θέμα, αλλά αξίζει για μερικά απίστευτα πλάνα, ένα καλό σάουντρακ, χαρακτήρες που με καλύτερους ηθοποιούς θα έσπερναν, άρρωστο χιούμορ ολουθε και μια απίστευτα όμορφη Κολομβία που θες να πας να το δεις από κοντά , ευτυχώς που έχουμε το γκουγκλ μαπς!


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