Isidoro, La Película (Isidoro, The Movie), directed by José Luis Massa. 80 minutes. July 19, 2007.
This was the final animated theatrical feature based on Dante Quinterno’s Patoruzú characters, featuring Patoruzú’s friend Isidoro Cañones as an adult and without Patoruzú. The movie was adapted from Quinterno’s 1940-1970s magazine cartoons, a 2006 Argentine Cartoon Network TV animated series showing Patoruzú (in Patagonia) and Isidoro (in Buenos Aires) as separate adults, and the Patoruzito movies showing both as children. In this movie, Isidoro is the spoiled adult nephew of his fabulously wealthy uncle, Col. Cañones, Patoruzú’s financial manager. He is loyal to his far-off childhood friend in Patagonia, but is having more immediate fun as Buenos Aires’ most notorious playboy, “el rey de la noche porteña”, with his girlfriend Cachorra.
Isidoro is gambling, drinking, and spending all his money, as usual. He asks his uncle for more money, again as usual, but Col. Cañones has finally had enough and refuses. Isidoro won’t take no for an answer, and crashes the racing car test at which Col. Cañones and his inventor partner, Captain Metralla, are testing Metralla’s secret experimental Flama 1 fuel additive in racecar driver Leandro’s car. Cachorra is among the spectators. Isidoro, in an ascension balloon, tries to publicly embarrass his uncle into giving him more money, but it backfires. Col. Cañones, in his mansion with Manuel, his majordomo, gives Isidoro the choice of either coming to live in the mansion in the Col.’s conservative lifestyle, or taking his share of his inheritance and leaving for good. Isidoro takes the money and leaves. Meanwhile, the audience sees that Leandro is out to steal the Flama 1 for himself.
Isidoro hires a seagoing casino/nightclub/luxury liner and invites “la barra” (his dissolute pals) to join him in wild living. Cachorra refuses at the gangplank; she is tired of an aimless life and accepts Leandro’s proposal of marriage. Isidoro and la barra sail carefree around the world for months until Isidoro finally runs out of money, and they are forced to become common sailors and chambermaids on the ship. When it returns to Buenos Aires, they are all thrown off. Isidoro’s pals desert him. He sneaks back to his uncle’s mansion for the night, picking the same night that Leandro breaks in to steal the Flama 1.
Captain Metralla has Col. Cañones arrested for the Flama 1’s disappearance. Isidoro, Manuel, and the mansion’s staff are thrown out. Isidoro, alone on the streets, finds that only Cachorro (who has apparently broken up with Leandro) is loyal to him. It turns out that Metralla never believed that Col. Cañones was behind the theft, and only pretended to in order to fool the real thieves. Metralla secretly trains Isidoro and Cachorra to become Secret Agents to get the Flama 1 back from the real thieves, who he has located in the Kingdom of Quindostán, a fictional Indian-like Pacific island nation about to run out of oil.
The theft has been engineered by Quindostán’s prime minister Dagner, who hired Leandro but betrayed him. Isidoro & Cachorra enter Quindostán pretending to organize a national celebration for young Prince Toluma’s coronation. During the celebration, Isidoro and Cachorra sneak into Dagner’s headquarters and steal the Flama 1 back, liberating Leandro whom they find imprisoned. During their escape Leandro tries to betray them again but fails. Dagner, who appears to win, reveals that he has stolen the Flama 1 to make himself king, not to help the people of Quindostán; but the last-minute arrival of Captain Metralla, Colonel Cañones, and Manuel foils him. Dagner shoots Col. Cañones, but Isidoro saves his life. In gratitude, when they return to Buenos Aires, Cañones gives Isidoro an unlimited credit card to live his playboy life as he pleases.
Santiago Bal, a leading 1970s Argentine movie and TV actor, tried making a live-action Isidoro movie at the time, but nothing came of it. This 2007 animated movie was a co-production of Indiecito Studios and Argentina’s Cartoon Network, in computer-generated drawn animation and CGI, with the voices of major actor Dady Brieva as Isidoro and actress/singer/model Luciana Salazar as Cachorra. Isidoro, La Película was nominated for Argentina’s Silver Condor Award for Best Argentine Animated Feature of the year, but lost to El Arca. In 2009 there was a live-action Isidoro TV sitcom series.
El Arca (The Ark; Noah’s Ark), directed by Juan Pablo Buscarini. 88 minutes. July 5, 2007.
El Arca (shown in some Latin American countries as El Arca di Noé) was a traditional cartoon animated feature based on the Bible story, but with adult humor for parents as well as talking animals for children. God and an angel walk incognito among a dissolute pre-Flood marketplace. Two of the sinners are the crooked merchants Farfán and Esther who fleece Noah. God is not so much disgusted with humanity as he is worried that his Bible is not as interesting as the Buddhists’ and Confucians’ holy books. He intends to wipe out humanity with the Flood to make the Bible more exciting; but He is impressed by Noah’s piety. Later as a heavenly voice, He tells Noah to build the Ark and save two of each animal. Noah’s wife Naama, three sons Shem, Japeth, and Ham, and their wives Sarah, Edith, and Miriam dutifully help him, although they really consider him senile and ready to be packed off to an old folks’ home.
Noah trades his house to Farfán & Esther for a cageful of doves to deliver messages to the animals to come to the Ark. Most of the doves throw away their messages and head for the nearest animal strip club. Only one, Pepe, tries to warn the animals, but he is attacked by the carnivores until he is rescued by Kairel, the lion king & queen’s lioness secretary. She takes Pepe to them. Lion King Sabu and Queen Oriana summon all the animals.
Sabu & Oriana, as the beasts’ rulers, are supposed to lead them, but they consider themselves too old and give their place to their son, Prince Xiro, and whomever he chooses as his mate. But Xiro is an empty-headed playboy who thinks that the Ark is just a pleasure cruise. His best friend is Bombay, a flamingly gay orangutan hairdresser. Xiro chooses the beautiful but bitchy lioness Bruma as his cruise companion. Xiro is so obviously hopeless as a leader that the more ruthless carnivores, led by Dagnino the tiger, plot to overthrow him and eat the herbivores as soon as the Ark sails. Kairel (pretty but plump) organizes which animals will get to board the Ark.
Farfán & Esther move into Noah’s house near where the Ark is under construction. They laugh at Noah until the rains start, then realizing that they are about to drown, they try to board the Ark. Only the animals are permitted to board, so they disguise themselves as animals.
The animals themselves argue over whether to believe Noah or if it’s just a plot to lure them into cages. (A unicorn who refuses to board drowns.) When the rains start, there is a panic among the animals to get up the gangplank. A hippopotamus falls atop Bruma, knocking her off the gangplank. Xiro grabs Kairel as a last-minute substitute.
The Ark sails but it looks like a disaster waiting to happen. The boat is too cramped and all the animals complain. Dagnino and his carnivore cronies (Coco the crocodile, Patricio the vulture, Cachito the puma, and nameless others) pose as the animals’ friends until they are ready to overthrow Xiro. Ludo the wolf realizes that Dagnino can’t be trusted and tries to play both sides. The herbivores, led by Alvaro the pig, don’t trust the carnivores. Noah’s children and their wives squabble over replacing him. Farfán’s & Esther’s attempt to pose as fictional animals creates chaos.
One of Dagnino’s gang, the sexy Panthy, keeps Xiro distracted by starting a risqué night club belowdecks with her as the star singer. (Her parody-rendition of “I Will Survive” is one of the movie’s highlights.) Bombay becomes the club’s manager with Pity the parrot as the m.c. & comedian.
Kairel finally convinces the naïve but honest Xiro of what is going on and persuades him to reluctantly take charge of the animals. Farfán & Esther, disguised as animals, get into trouble with the carnivores and flee. Noah mistakes them for animals who have gotten loose, and during the pursuit, all three fall into the depths of the Ark. Pepe the dove tries to save Noah but fails. This gives Noah’s children the chance to take over, but they do such a poor job of it that they soon wish for Noah back. Dagnino uses part of Farfán’s disguise to make it look like Xiro has killed and eaten the animals that the con-artists pretended to be. Xiro is deposed and Dagnino is elected in his place, but the herbivores led by Alvaro quickly learn the truth, convince Kairel of Xiro’s innocence, and free him.
Noah, who has been knocked out and abandoned by Farfán & Esther, recovers and encourages Pepe to look for land. Xiro, locked in a nearby storeroom, overhears Noah’s pep talk to Pepe and mistakes it for God telling him to be more resolute. Xiro takes charge of the herbivores and leads them to confront Dagnino and the carnivores. While they fight, the Ark, which has been drifting without Noah, runs aground on an Arctic ice floe. The sudden jarring allows Xiro to defeat Dagnino & his cronies, and take charge of the herbivores and innocent carnivores, while Noah reappears to take back control of the Ark from his children. Xiro uses the pitch for the Ark’s torches to melt the ice and free the boat just as Farfán & Esther, escaping what they think is a trapped ship, are chased into the distance by polar bears. Noah and sons, and the animals led by Xiro, celebrate with parties, while God and the angel turn off the Flood (but God scolds the angel for leaving the rainbow on.)
El Arca was a major success throughout Latin America. The dialogue was recorded both in Spanish Spanish and Latin-American Spanish. Among its more controversial features (in the U.S.) were depicting God as negroid; showing Noah’s three sons as so physically different as to imply that each had a different mother, with Ham as definitely Black (the Bible does name Ham as the ancestor of all Africans); God ordering His angel to start the Flood by flushing a Heavenly toilet; Xiro’s eagerness to “multiply”; the super-erotic Panthy, and in the animals’ nightclub, the contrast between Panthy’s exaggerated bust and a bustless chicken’s attempt to emulate her; the super-gay orangutan Bombay and his butch wife Lily; and God being more interested in making His Bible exciting than in punishing evil. El Arca won Argentina’s Silver Condor Award the next year.
Martín Fierro, La Película, directed by Liliana Romero, Norman Ruiz, Victoria Aizenstat. 88 minutes. November 8, 2007.
Martín Fierro is a gaucho who is drafted by the Argentine national government into the army to fight the Indians and expand the new nation. Fierro is proud of his own independence and sympathetic to the Indians who want to preserve theirs. The Argentine Army is brutal and corrupt, and Fierro finally deserts. He returns home, but his ranch and family are gone. He becomes a “gaucho outlaw”, pursued by the police after killing at least one man in a barroom knife fight. (It’s implied that he was the winner of several similar notorious fights.) At first he has a companion, Sergeant Cruz, another Army deserter, and they try to live with the Indians, but the Indians don’t trust any white men. After Cruz dies in a plague, Fierro goes on alone on the edges of society, fighting in more barrooms, meeting his and Cruz’s adult sons, and finally, in his old age, considering changing his name and disappearing into anonymity. Fierro, the character, is presented both favorably as exemplifying Argentina’s spirit of independence, and unfavorably as a wild killer refusing to become civilized.
This was the second feature produced by Aleph Media. Martín Fierro, La Película was adapted for the screen by five writers including popular cartoonist Roberto Fontanarrosa (1944-2007), and advertised as being in Fontanarrosa’s distinctive art style. Fontanarrosa was immensely popular in Argentina, respected by even those who did not like his “noir” style. He was wheelchair-bound and dying when this film was begun, and did not live to see it completed. It was considered a memorial to him as much as a cinematic production of Argentina’s greatest literary work. It was also nominated for the 2007 Silver Condor Award, but lost to El Arca.
Next week: Argentine Animated Features, Part 9: 2008-2009.