Birds of Passage (2018)

7.6
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release year: 2018 (2018-08-02)
  • Running time: 125 min
  • Original Title: Pájaros de verano
  • Voted: 6036
Pájaros de verano is a movie starring Carmi?a Martínez, José Acosta, and Natalia Reyes. During the marijuana bonanza, a violent decade that saw the origins of drug trafficking in Colombia, Rapayet and his indigenous family get...
  • A stylish and memorable film 10/13/2018 12:00:00 AM by soundoflight 9

    This film was not what I expected. And I mean that in the most positive way possible. What I expected was another rehashing of the Colombian drug cartel wars / gun fights / Pablo Escobar type stuff, and while there is certainly some of that here, the film is so much more than that.

    This film takes you to a remote and little known corner of northern Colombia and immediately immerses you in the local culture. I hope this is not a spoiler but I was left speechless by the simple fact that Spanish is not actually the language being spoken in most of the film - instead it's the regional native dialect of the tribes-people that the film follows. Being completely foreign to Colombia, this was all new and fascinating to me. The film does a wonderful job portraying these proud people and their culture, and how the larger Colombian "drug" culture seeps in with its temptations of money and power. The lesson of what happens when those two mix is a timeless one.

    The landscapes of the film are stunning, and I particularly appreciated the cinematography. But perhaps my favourite thing about the film was it's heavy use of spirituality and what I can only describe as "magical realism" transposed into film. I thought it was brilliantly done.

    This is one of my favourite films I've seen this year, hands down.

  • Honor, tradition, family and ... marijuana 4/15/2019 12:00:00 AM by FrenchEddieFelson 8

    This marvelous movie takes place in Colombia, within the Peninsula of the Guajirain, a sparsely populated and arid area, and mostly played with Wayuu autochthons. This timeless univers is characterized by a rather pronounced communitarianism, each village highlighting its differences with the surrounding ones, while the origin of these differences remains, as often, unexplained and obscure. Nevertheless, they share ancestral traditions, folklore and values such as honor and family bonds. Thus, during the first 30 minutes, we do not really know when the film takes place, until the informative and surprising appearance of cars. Thus, we may guess that we are in the 60s / 70s. A marriage proposal between a man and a woman from two neighboring tribes will be, by a strange combination of circumstances related to an exorbitant dowry, the opportunity to integrate the marijuana trafficking, which is a very lucrative universe while slowly distorting personalities. Like in a Greek tragedy, these families will ineluctably suffer a descent into hell, via the classical 'eye for eye, tooth for tooth' philosophy.

    The film is visually sober and simple, but of an exacerbated aestheticism, with an unusual care about details, including birds. Moreover, the actors are excellent, especially the two main ones: José Acosta (Rapayet) and Carmi?a Martínez (úrsula).

  • Gripping 10/17/2018 12:00:00 AM by caughlan_anne 7

    Spanning era of tribal trade in Colombia from coffee to cannabis, with first opulence and soon decadence in the lives of the Waayu families. Very real depiction of customs and traditions becoming squashed by greed and corruption.

  • If there's family, there's honour 2/3/2019 12:00:00 AM by nikxatz 8

    This film is without a doubt a thought- provoking, chaotic and memorable experience.A lot of films choose to talk about the drug wars and the effects that power and money can have to humans, but this one feels like no other. It is griping and intense and handles its subject material in the best of ways. It is obvious that the creator of the film did everything he could so that the movie feels realistic and interesting to the viewer.Its beautiful and colorful visuals, the exceptional sound design and the strong and immersive soundtrack made you feel as a part of a whole and the film never felt boring or cliche. It is masterfully crafted and really well-paced. Every conversation and direction that the film takes feels logical and you can feel the chaos slowly coming to the surface and destroying this tribe's life. Also, whenever a certain ritual was taking place, like the bird-like dance or the spitting by the old lady that is the matriarch o the tribe, I was instantly hooked by it.Its a movie about life and death and how a small change could lead to a larger one and to a larger one and in the end to death and chaos. Its a story about people which are trapped in their own deadly webs and are unable to escape.Everything that was young and beautiful,the red dress of the young actress, the insects and the kids, the dances and that feel of family, togetherness and spirituality is lost and overshadowed by dullness and corrupted and greedy people, who seek power but in the end find death.Tragic indeed8/10 and who knows? maybe a 9 on a second watch

  • money, lives, culture 2/12/2019 12:00:00 AM by ferguson-6 7

    Greetings again from the darkness. It's not unusual for movies to "trick" us into embracing a drug dealer, and even kind of rooting for them - despite the near universal condemnation of such folks when we are outside of a dark theatre. Co-directors Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra were the producer and director behind the Oscar nominated EMBRACE OF THE SERPANT (2015) about an Amazon tribe striving to hold tight to their way of life despite outside interference. This time out, they focus on the rural Guajira territory of Columbia, with its desert conditions and villagers committed to their own traditions.

    The film is based on a true story and covers the time period of 1960-1980, and is separated by chapter titles that include the year and a hint of what's to follow. We first see Zaida (Natalia Reyes) as a girl in confinement as she prepares to be introduced as a woman to the villagers. This is one of the more elaborate rituals of the village, and it leads to Rapayet (Jose Acosta) asking for Zaida's hand in marriage. Her mother Ursula, a respected village elder, sets the dowry at what she believes in an unattainable level for Rapayet: 30 goats, 20 cows, and 5 necklaces. Ursula has unwittingly set off a chain of events that eventually brings the family money, power, and tragedy. How can a few goats and cows cause this? Well, when one is poor and needs to quickly assemble a large dowry, what better way than to enter the drug trade? And that's exactly what Rapayet does.

    Rapayet's friend and partner in the coffee trading business, Moises (Jhon Narvaez), joins him in the transition of careers, and while Rapayet is content to build his empire quietly and under the radar, Moises runs amok with the power and money. Ursula is respected for her abilities as a dream reader, and she's constantly dousing Rapayet's business with the cold water of her visions ... worried mostly about the safety of her daughter Zaida. By 1971, Rapayet's business of peddling marijuana to gringos is booming, and by 1979 (in a chapter entitled "Prosperity") we see the results: a mansion-fortress in the desert protected by guards with automatic weaponry (a sure sign that bad news is on the way).

    What began as a look at peaceful remote villagers sticking to the traditional path of their ancestors, transforms into a drug war featuring cartel mobsters. Cinematographer David Gallego contrasts the beauty and simplicity of traditions with the danger and violence of new money and new world order. Leonardo Heiblum's score is a terrific complement as well. The infancy of the Columbian drug trade presented here conveniently places blame on the free-spirited youngsters of the Peace Corps; while the story plays out like a Greek tragedy, replete with mixed messages on revenge, capitalism, tradition, greed, and family ties. It's a rags-to-riches story that pulls no punches when it comes to the price paid for taking an illicit shortcut. It's a path that can destroy lives and culture.