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. "Duck Season" (aka, "Temporada de Patos")

What do a couple of 14-year old boys do when mother leaves them alone in their apartment for the day? The many answers to that may well be common to any country where a TV set and video game electronics are available, as this charming comedy of boyhood indulgence from Mexico suggests.

Soccer is the video game that engrosses Moko and Flama (Diego Catano and Daniel Miranda) when mama finally leaves for the day. That, and a pizza. What they didn't count on is a visit by Rita (Danny Perea), their cute 16-year old neighbor who needs their kitchen for 15 minutes to bake because her oven is down.

What they do count on is a free pizza when Ulises, the delivery man (Enrique Arreola), after having driven like a madman on his motorbike through traffic and running up many stories because the elevator is out due to a power failure, arrives 17 seconds late. His understandable reluctance in the circumstances becomes a double-or-nothing game at the soccer console once power is restored. But, just as the possibly winning kick goes toward the cage, the electrical power goes out again and deprives them of a certain outcome. The pizza is still not free and this delivery guy ain't going away until the boys produce the money momma left.

Somewhere in here Rita's baking is spoiled by overcooking and she tries her hand at brownies with a little weed. The resulting communal high has the effect of forming a bond among the formerly disparate foursome and further hi-jinks, emotional ties and discoveries fill the apartment for the remainder of the afternoon.

The title of writer-director Fernando Eimbcke's 2004 film derives from a commercial painting on the wall that's a sore point in the boy's parents' divorce settlement and a source of personal imagery it evokes among its viewers. First kisses, questions of incipient manhood, morality, generosity and justice are all woven into this modest presentation of dynamics among these humble characters. Despite their ages, the first-time actors show an intuitive understanding of comedic timing in a satiric piece of work.

Not gripping nor challenging, but comically insightful and well photographed in black and white, it's an 87 minute interlude you'll be glad to have been invited to.

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                                      ~~  Jules Brenner  


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Diego Cata¤o and Daniel Miranda
Home alone, but not for long.
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