DVD Review HTF REVIEW: "The crime of Padre Amaro" (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Ronald Epstein, Apr 4, 2003.

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  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    [​IMG]

    The crime of Padre Amaro





    Studio: Columbia Pictures
    Year: 2002
    Rated: R
    Film Length: 119 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)
    Subtitles: English, French and Spanish




    ...lead us not into temptation....


    I really put some thought into this. If I was to
    be reincarnated as a famous young actor, I think
    I would choose to come back as Gael García Bernal.
    Here's a young, good-looking actor who has had the
    opportunity to play some very erotic roles up
    against some of the hottest actresses in the
    business. Those of you who took my recommendation
    to watch last year's Y Tu Mamá También already
    know that Bernal is one of the most promising
    international young stars in the movie business.

    I was quite excited when I had opened this week's
    screener box to find a copy of The crime of
    Padre Amaro
    inside. I had just heard about
    this film through it's 2002 Oscar nomination and
    Golden Globe win for Best Foreign Film. I
    also was excited over the fact that this film looked
    to be another steamy tale full of love and lust,
    something I never tire of watching. Truth of the
    matter here is that while some may find an abundance
    of lust in The crime of Padre Amaro, I am
    afraid many people will be somewhat offended by the
    film's central themes that deal with a lustful priest,
    a sexually curious virgin, a corrupt bishop, pregnancy,
    and abortion. It's no wonder that this controversial
    film is a tremendous success in Mexico, where it
    now ranks as the highest-grossing domestic film in
    that country's history.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    The film is based on the 1870's Portuguese novel
    El Crimen del Padre Amaro, by Eça de Queirós.
    The story has updated to present day and set in rural
    Mexico. As the film begins, we meet Padre Amaro
    (Gael García Bernal), a newly ordained priest who
    has been brought to the small Mexican town of Los
    Reyes to assist Padre Benito (Sancho Gracia), the
    older priest of the parish, who in his years as
    the head of the local church has managed to tuck
    away a few dark secrets, including the fact that
    he has a mistress on the side who runs the local
    restaurant.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    Father Amaro, who shows surprise at the affair of
    his superior, soon finds himself falling for a young
    girl (Ana Claudia Talacon) who is continually arguing
    with her boyfriend (Gaston Melo). Spiritually devoted
    yet sexually curious, she's managed to eroticize both
    Christ and his handsome earthly representative. It
    isn't long before the handsome young priest is found
    fumbling his fingers within her buttoned blouse.

    In a side story, Padre Benito is involved with a
    kingpin drug dealer, accepting laundered money
    contributions. Of course, Benito justifies his
    actions as minor necessary evils serving a greater
    good -- the laundered money funds a new hospital.


    How is the transfer?


    Overall, this transfer looks above average. Colors
    are nicely rendered and fully saturated, with
    accurately represented fleshtones. Black levels
    aren't exceptionally deep as the film sometimes
    takes on dull tones. I also noticed the appearance
    of occasional background noise, particularly in
    building walls and various skyline shots. Of course,
    I am just being my usual nit picky self here.

    [​IMG]

    The film's Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital Track (you
    should not watch this dubbed) sounds very spacial
    with dialogue that is nicely rendered and clearly
    audible. With excellent audio separation across
    the fronts, the rears provide some much needed
    ambiance to many of the outdoor sequences as well
    as adding echo to many of the film's church sequences.
    In addition, Rosino Serrano's synthesized and often
    choral-filled score wraps itself nicely across the
    rear channels.


    Special Features

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    What initially seemed to be an error on MGM's
    release of Y Tu Mamá También, has now become
    a cruel joke on this DVD. Yes, folks, the
    full-length commentary with director Carlos
    Carrera and accompanying actor is entirely in Spanish.
    Now I ask you, why on earth did Columbia include
    a foreign commentary for a English-speaking audience?
    Even more disturbing, why did Columbia market this
    DVD for Region 1 audiences without giving any
    back-cover specs warning of its content? I feel
    sorry for Americans who buy this DVD anticipating
    the advertised commentary, only to pop the DVD in
    and find out its all in Spanish. Will the studios
    kindly please advertise the fact that these
    commentaries are in a foreign language?

    Interestingly, we get two of the same (but separate)
    making of featurettes -- one in English and
    one in Spanish. Running 5 minutes in length, this
    is strictly promotional fare that can easily be
    skipped. Nothing is learned here other than the fact
    that the filming of the movie was mobbed by fans
    who wanted to get a glimpse of Gael García Bernal.

    Oh, big whoop! A Poster Gallery gives us
    a look at approximately 6 different poster designs
    used to promote the film.

    The film's domestic and international trailers
    are included here as well as a trailer for Talk
    To Her
    , a film by Pedro Almodóvar. A cast and
    crew filmography is also included.


    Final Thoughts

    [​IMG]

    Forget the Special Features on this DVD. They are
    useless to anyone who does not understand Spanish
    and/or doesn't need to see a glossy featurette.

    What counts here is the film. That is what I am
    selling this DVD on.

    As I mentioned previously, The crime of Padre Amaro
    is filled with enough sin that it will probably
    offend everyone who sees it. Yet, it is the mere
    fact that this film dwells into the modern-day
    traumas regarding church scandals that makes this
    movie powerful and hard-hitting.

    If you know what you are getting into before you
    rent or purchase this, I promise that this to be
    a highly provoking and compelling film well worth
    watching. For that reason it receives a HIGHLY
    RECOMMENDED status.


    Release Date: April 22, 2003


    All screen captures have been further compressed.
    They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
    represent actual picture quality
     
  2. Bruce Hedtke

    Bruce Hedtke Cinematographer

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    Nice review, Ron and I agree that some of the central themes might (or will) offend but what made the film so powerful to me was not the illicit affair or the subsequent events that followed. It was the fact that by the end, I felt sorry for Amaro. If you looked at it from the most basic standpoint, by all rights, you should hate Amaro for what he did-he took advantage of a young girl, got her pregnant, took her to a seedy back-alley surgeon for an abortion which ended up killing her.
    But for me, I just thought of how heavy a burden it was for this young priest and how he was going to have to live with what he had done for the rest of his life. The way the film delivered on that was exceptional and really spoke of how strong the film was. Definitely a must see.

    Bruce
     
  3. Julian Lalor

    Julian Lalor Supporting Actor

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    Does the commentary at least have an English language subtitle track? The UK DVD (unlike the US DVD) of Y Tu Mamá También did, which at least makes sense of its inclusion.
     
  4. Ed St. Clair

    Ed St. Clair Producer

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    It's a "Crime" this movie had too be soooooo
    controversial!

    At least have subtitles for the commentary track!
     
  5. Juan C Toro

    Juan C Toro Stunt Coordinator

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    Region 1 DVDs are for North America. Last I checked, Latinos were the largest minority in the US, and they also buy DVDs.

    So stop being so surprised to the fact that the commentary is in Spanish.

    JC
     
  6. Lucho Cohaila

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    Muchas gracias JC.....

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Saludos,
     
  7. rhett

    rhett Supporting Actor

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  8. Matthew Chmiel

    Matthew Chmiel Cinematographer

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    On a side note to the extra/commentary being in Spanish and not English: with Columbia's release of the German horror film Anatomy, there was a little blurb on the back cover saying: "All special features in German with yellow English subtitles" (or something to that effect).

    You have to remember, this film was not produced in America, and Columbia is basically just taking the extras from an already produced DVD in another country.
     
  9. Rob Willey

    Rob Willey Screenwriter

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    Spanish commentaries are fine with this non-Spanish speaker as long as there are English subtitles to go with them. Unfortunately, MGM doesn't usually include English subs, even on the film itself. [​IMG]

    Rob
     
  10. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Producer

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    I am all for the commentary being in Spanish -- why wouldn't it be? But obviously they need to give us English subs, which I gather they haven't...

    I think that Purple Rivers was another Columbia DVD with an unsubtitled commentary. Come on guys, if you make the effort to record a commentary, please provide subs -- this isn't rocket science.

    Ted
     
  11. Juan C Toro

    Juan C Toro Stunt Coordinator

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  12. BarryS

    BarryS Second Unit

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    I just finished watching this DVD and indeed the commentary does have English subtitles. They came on automatically when I selected the commentary from the menu.
     
  13. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    Barry,

    Now that's interesting. I got no subtitles
    (nor an option of) during playback. I'll have to go
    dig back into my pile and pull this out to look at
    it again.

    Thanks for the update. If I am wrong about the
    subtitle problem, I'll issue an apology.
     
  14. BarryS

    BarryS Second Unit

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    Hmmmm. I don't know. I had no problem getting the subtitles for the commentary. They came on automatically. I just watched a little bit of it. At the very beginning, the director is talking about how he doesn't like having music over the opening credits.

    Could this possibly be a problem with the player? I'm using a Panasonic RP62.
     
  15. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    Barry,

    Have you tried Y Tu Mama Tambien? I couldn't get any subtitles for the commentary on that disc, player is a Panny CP-72.
     
  16. Ryan Peter

    Ryan Peter Screenwriter

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    There are no subtitles for YTMT commentary.
     
  17. Julian Lalor

    Julian Lalor Supporting Actor

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  18. James Edward

    James Edward Supporting Actor

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    Well... I'm not a big extras watcher, but the movie itself-really worthy of the 'Highly Recommended' honor.

    It was a tough one to watch- all the performances were so nuanced it made it difficult to visually toggle between the subtitles and the actors. I didn't want to miss a thing.

    Did anyone else think that Father Benito was Amalia's biological father?
     
  19. Javier_Huerta

    Javier_Huerta Supporting Actor

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    James: I think the answer to your question is "no". I seem to remember someone said who he was during the movie. BUT, I have to agree, your question made me want to watch the movie again, just to be sure. [​IMG]

    I love the movie. Having attended a catholic school for 9 years, I can tell you something...

    That darned movie is not too far away from the truth. Everyone in México who watched it had to admit that they all knew that was what was really going on with the church anyway, so it wasn't a big surprise for anyone.

    Although I haven't met a Padre like Amaro, I must say IRL (and in Mexico) religion has taken far stranger courses than what is depicted in the film. Take the Opus Dei, for example - if you are not rich or have a nice sounding last name, you are out of the institution.

    OTOH, you should have seen the mob fighting against this film's release... the newscasts showing people blocking the movies' entrances while the police removed them was sad and disappointing; the fact that these people didn't want the truth to be shown on screen will never change the fact that, indeed, out there, some Padre might be pretty much like Amaro.

    Just my 2 pesos. [​IMG]
     
  20. Aurel Savin

    Aurel Savin Supporting Actor

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    Getting back to the movie review, I thought this movie was pretty formulaic. I didn't think this was original at all.

    I have seen this story before, the "forbidden love" story hundreds of times. The fact the main character is a priest might make it more offensive or shocking for some religious people, but otherwise this is pure Hollywood formula storytelling. Change the priest character with a white guy trying to date a black girl in the ghetto and you got the same movie. Sorry to be so hard on this, but I do not see the big deal about what the big appeal is.

    Maybe it has to do with the fact that my religion (Greek Orthodox) allows priests to marry. Maybe this why this left me cold, but I just could smell the "formula" storytelling in this movie and it was agonizing.

    I am a huge fan of Amores Perros and Y Tu Mama Tambien having seen both of them numerous times, but this movie just dissapoints.
     

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