This formidable account analyzes the first decade of twenty-first-century Mexican film, examining production, exhibition,and reception through a perceptive lens. In particular, Aldama uses the concept of the filmic blueprint to provide critical analysis and evaluate the quality of specific films. He addresses the obstacles that Mexican directors face and the effects of being in close proximity to the United States and especially Hollywood.
In analyzing films, Aldama tends to focus on how the story is told more than on the story itself. While he takes narrative into account, his profound knowledge of process allows him to show how the story is affected by filmic techniques. . . .
A precise writer with a vast knowledge of Mexican film, Aldama mentions specific examples to validate his arguments and points out anomalies in his findings in order to avoid overgeneralization. He praises certain aberrations in Mexican filmmaking as innovative and fresh additions to an industry whose output is often banal. . . .
Commenting on the influence of cultural specificity on film, he states, “Born and raised by families in Mexico, Mexican filmmakers acquire tastes that involve their total sensory system and its particularized education within a Mexican cultural, social, political, and historical context” (27).This key statement serves to clarify that while all directors are ultimately“human,” regional upbringings play crucial roles in filmmaking. For Aldama, defining films as “Mexican” (or any nationality) is a complex process.Perhaps, then, it can be stated that Aldama does not wish to diminish any sense of Mexican or Chicano identity, but rather to demystify it and boil it down to individual experience. . . .
In sum, the prolific Aldama presents an insightful account of twenty first-century Mexican cinema that touches on industrial, technical, and sociopolitical aspects of the industry. Distinguishing the text is its use of cognitive science in its filmic analysis. Furthermore, Aldama is unafraid to use systematic analysis to judge films, based upon their blueprints, as successes or failures. Such judgment is key, for it puts his critical theories to the test and forces him to actively apply these theories rather than to merely formulate them. His assertions about local and international filmmaking can be used to both justify and demystify Chicano filmmaking and identity. Written in readable language, Mex-Ciné is sure to appeal to both serious scholars and casual students of film.