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Uyuni (2010)
Tonight's Short Presentation

UYUNI (2010)

Starring: Kira Pozehl, Jack Daniel Stanley

Written By: MacGegor, Bruno Zacarias, Jack Daniel Stanley

Directed By: MacGegor, Bruno Zacarias

See It Here: http://www.vimeo.com/3995910/

The Story

Doug (Jack Daniel Stanley, 18 Seconds) has a surprise for his girlfriend, Allie (Kira Pozehl, Fall to Grace).  He’s driving her out to the middle of Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat.  It’s a place of brilliant, if stark, beauty, and seems to Doug to be the perfect place to make a very important presentation to Allie.  But will she accept it?

The Rundown

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?


Unfinished and ruined.

Pairs Well With...


You shouldn’t drink it.  At best, you’ll be sick.

“You know what they call this place?  End of the world.”

Why do you watch movies?  Specifically, since the answers change for some people, why do you watch short movies?

Are you one of the many people who treat short films as a means to and: extended demo reels showcasing the talents of the people involved and studies in film technique?  Or do you treat short films like everything else, and watch for entertainment and/or some form of intellectual or emotional enlightenment?

If you’re talent spotting, then there may be something for you here.  The cinematography in Uyuni is quite excellent, taking a very challenging setting – the endless expanse of pure white salt flat that is Uyuni – and really making the most of it visually, highlighting the location to the point where that location becomes a character in its own right without (unfortunately) overshadowing the real characters.  As for the visual treatment of those two characters, who are standing alone on a blank white stage with only a yellow truck and a red box for company, they are also captured wonderfully by the camera.  Rather than standard static shots with lots of jump cuts while they’re talking, the camera makes a very nice circle around them, giving life and motion to the scene without making it feel forced or jerky.

So, if you’re looking to hire a cinematographer, feel free to give Uyuni a look.  The cast isn’t bad, either.

However, if you watch movies for the reasons that most people do – not as studies of technique, but rather for entertainment, provocation of thought, or other enlightenment – then don’t bother with Uyuni.

Uyuni has a runtime of just fourteen minutes; it ruined my day in half of that, and just kept getting worse.  I will never watch it again.  I can honestly say that I loathe and despise this movie, and I rarely go that far.  I’m feeling ill just thinking about it again.

One could argue that this kind of highly charged visceral reaction means that the directors (yes; fourteen minutes required two directors) did their jobs, and that surely there must be some value in something with that kind of power.  I’ll even entertain the notion that there’s some merit to that argument, and I’d even agree if I felt that there was a worthwhile story being told.  However, I don’t think that there’s worthwhile story being told.  I think that there’s an incredibly ugly partial story being told with several important pieces missing, and that it’s so far from being unique that it can’t even use that as a handhold in the climb to being considered worthwhile.  It’s just disgusting.  Period.

In order to explain myself, I’m going to have to spoil the entire movie.  So, if you want to watch for yourself without knowing the entire plot in advance, stop here, and just know that unless you’re a talent scout looking for a cinematographer, I’m strongly encouraging you not to bother.

It’s all spoilers from here on in, people.  All right; you’ve been warned.

The filmmakers’ description of the story is that “he’s got a proposal” and “she, a secret.”  Let’s face it, folks: with a two-person cast and the word “proposal,” it doesn’t take Nostradamus to figure out that someone’s going to suggest getting married.   So far, okay.

Despite putting a massive amount of planning into where he wants to do this and even getting Allie to agree to wear a blindfold during the drive – which she does without objection – Doug is so nervous that he pops the question as soon as they get out of the truck.  Only he doesn’t even pop the question; he just hands her the box.  All right, fine.

She starts to sound like she’s going to say “I’ll think about it,” but then just flat out says “no.”  Again, fine.  We expect the dramatic tension to get crackling here.

Doug is devastated, and immediately wonders aloud about the possibility of another man in Allie’s life.  Really, really bad form on his part, but still passable.  She says that there isn’t; that there’s another reason.  Okay.  This must be the secret mentioned in the filmmakers’ description.  This should be where it gets interesting.

Only it doesn’t.  Instead, she clams up, he yells, she heads for the truck, he attacks her, she gets hurt, she fights back, attack continues, one or both go unconscious.  Um.

When we fade back in from black (which we find is sympathetic to Allie waking up), Doug is pulling her pants off.  He then calls her a whore and rapes her.

I am committed to certain standards of reason and eloquence, but I’ll be completely honest with you: when I saw that happening, the first words out of my mouth were “This is fucking garbage.”  A day later, I haven’t changed my mind.

Then when he’s done, he holds up the ring box again and gives her another chance at accepting his proposal!  How grand of him!  But she’s not in that good of shape anymore, so he just slips the ring onto her finger for her and just wants her to say that she loves him.

At least the script has the small ounce of decency to have her say “I hate-” before she dies, at which point, the movie just ends.

It is taking a lot of restraint to maintain the aforementioned standards of reason and eloquence and not turn this review into a profanity-laden tirade.  Instead, I’m just going to say that there is absolutely no point at all to this alleged story.  It’s not even a story; it’s a snippet of something out of “Forensic Files.”  What was her secret?  We’re never going to know!  All we know is that Doug is troglodyte piece of shit whose immediate answer to rejection is to call the woman he wanted to marry a few seconds earlier a “whore,” and then rape and kill her!  Who the hell thought this was entertainment or a story worth telling?*

If you think it’s entertainment, check yourself into a hospital.  Now.

As for a story worth telling… no.  It isn’t.  There’s nothing added to the disgusting cliché here.  Nothing.  Really, no story.  Just a gratuitous rape that happens to become a murder.  Yeah, great; the setting’s neat, and you can probably do some “salt in the wound” symbolism of you’re taking the Freshman English perspective.  But it isn’t enough.  If this is going to be anything other than a gratuitous rape and snuff film, it isn’t enough.  There needs to be more context to justify presenting this to an audience, and “demo reel” doesn’t count.

Next to nothing offends me.  I’ll watch violent movies all day, and usually laugh at them.  Body counts can be fun.  Gratuitous rape, however, is one thing that does offend me (as it should offend any civilized human being), and that’s what this is.  It’s there for its own sake.  It’s not part of a larger story (or any story; at least, nothign worthwhile) or context.  It’s just ugly for the sake of being ugly, and no pure white setting can change that.

Bottom line, however good the filmmaking technique may be, there’s just no point to this shit.  Uyuni is just a rape and snuff film, and its talented filmmakers should feel ashamed for wasting their talents on it.

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- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, June, 2012

*Long after this review was written, one of the filmmakers sent me a note stating that the female lead's last utterance is not "I hate," but "AIDS." This does little to change my overall opinion of the film; I still consider it a pointless rape/snuff movie that wastes the talents of all involved, and the alteration this makes to the story, if anything, cheapens it even further. (This also tells me that the sound editing needed another pass, because what she says is not at all distinct.) [return to review]

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