Friday, June 14, 2024

MND Staff Picks: Best films and travel experiences of 2022

The last sunset of 2022 approaches, and here the MND team shares our final round-up list with favorite films and travel experiences of the year.

We hope you enjoyed last week’s list of our favorite books and podcasts of 2022 and look forward to more discoveries in the year ahead.

Films

“Dos Estaciones”

Having won numerous awards from several festivals, including Sundance and the Morelia Film Festival (where I saw it in October), “Dos Estaciones” is the kind of film that quietly and mysteriously works its way into your soul. It’s about a stoic 50-year-old woman who has been saddled with running a family-owned tequila factory in the Jalisco highlands in an era when foreign ownership dominates.

The story of the enigmatic María and her struggles to keep the business afloat unfolds slowly against a backdrop of magnificent scenery and glimpses into Mexican culture in 38-year-old Juan Pablo González’s feature-length debut. Filmmaker Magazine named González one of its “25 New Faces of Independent Film” a few years ago, and this film shows why.

Teresa Sánchez’s powerful, tempered performance as María earned her best actress awards in several festivals. “Dos Estaciones” (“Two Seasons”) played in limited release with English subtitles around the U.S. this fall, but is not yet available to stream online, so keep an eye open. It received a really good score (82) on Metacritic and was deemed “striking” in a strong review from the New York Times.

Andy Altman-Ohr, staff writer

“El Jeramías”

The 2015 Mexican comedy “El Jeramías” was one of the movies I most enjoyed watching this year. It hit that extra sweet spot between being heartfelt and clever without pretension, and I was 100% charmed. “El Jeramías” follows a quiet and curious young boy from a working-class family who feels that no one around him understands him, save an elderly bookstore owner and some (also elderly) chess buddies. It’s soon discovered that Jeramías himself is a bona fide genius surrounded by very non-genius family and community members.

As he sets out to forge his own path – as well as he can from his family’s shared computer – he studies the lives of geniuses that have come before him, searching for a future identity. When he’s given the opportunity to escape the constraints of his small community and flawed family, he must make a big decision about who he really wants to be.

Sarah DeVries, regular contributor

“La Ley de Herodes”

“La ley de Herodes,” or “Herod’s Law,” is the first in director Luis Estrada’s series of cutting satires that destroy and sometimes celebrate both Mexico and human nature. It’s followed by “El Infierno” (“Hell”), “La dictadura perfecta” (“The Perfect Dictatorship”) and coming soon, “¡Que viva México!” (“Long Live Mexico!”), each of which takes on an aspect of societal dysfunction, with some of the most absurd moments taken directly out of the history books.

In “La ley de Herodes,” the viewer follows an idealistic young politician (Damián Alcázar) assigned to be mayor of a remote desert outpost, who finds the job more challenging than expected.

Rose Egelhoff, associate editor

“Un Mundo Maravilloso”

“Un mundo maravilloso” is a satirical movie for those who want to learn about Mexico’s recent history. The life of a homeless man in Mexico is radically transformed when the media falsely reports he wants to kill himself as a protest for being poor.

The media turn him into a hero and the government uses him for political interests while making him believe he’s rich. The story takes place during Vicente Fox Quesada’s presidency. It was directed by Luis Estrada and released in 2006.

Gaby Solís, staff writer

“Good Rivals”

Amazon Prime Video docuseries Good Rivals poster

“Good Rivals,” a new Amazon Prime docuseries directed by Guatemalan filmmaker Gabriel Serra, debuted in time for the World Cup in Qatar. The series looked at the soccer rivalry between Mexico and the US. Once lopsidedly in favor of El Tri, momentum has swung the Americans’ way in recent decades, a subject explored at length.

Soccer greats such as Rafa Marquez of Mexico and Landon Donovan of the US became a prism to tell the larger story. Some interviewees shared perspectives from both sides of the border — including coach Bora Milutinovic, who led host Mexico to its best-ever Cup finish in 1986, then joined Team USA to preside over the rise of soccer north of the border in the 1990s. Although neither Mexico nor the US went very far in this year’s Cup, “Good Rivals” made for fascinating viewing.
Rich Tenorio, regular contributor

Travel

Querétaro wine country

Depositphotos

This year, I visited the Querétaro wine region, where most wineries are located in the Ezequiel Montes municipality. Despite Querétaro’s growing potential in the industry, it remains overshadowed by the more well-known Valle de Guadalupe.

But, given worsening drought in the north and new talent turning their focus to Querétaro, this might just be the next big place for Mexican wines. I like the natural wine producers Tierra de Peña and Barrigón.

Chelsea Carrick, staff writer

Hacienda Mucuyché, Yucatán

About 45 kilometers south of Mérida is Hacienda Mucuyché, a property where you can learn about the henequen industry – once the backbone of the Yucatán economy – swim in a cenote (natural sinkhole), stroll through verdant, jungly gardens and eat cochinita pibil and other local specialties all in the same place. 

I visited with my wife and infant son earlier this year and we had a great day out. Read more about the hacienda on its website.

Peter Davies, staff writer

Potrero de Mulas sanctuary, Jalisco

jaguar at Potrero de Mulas wildlife reserve, Jalisco

Of the places I visited in 2022, the one which made the greatest impact was Potrero de Mulas, a Jaguar Sanctuary in the jungle-covered hills above Puerto Vallarta in Jalisco. Here I learned the personal stories of each of these big cats and how they had been rescued. Kudos to those who have befriended these magnificent animals!

John Pint, regular contributor

Hiking in Mexico

One of my favorite discoveries this year has been True Hikers. This boutique company has a roster of 60+ incredible hikes, accommodating beginners to ultra-advanced. Owners Arturo and Ana are hiking enthusiasts who host weekly adventures to the most breathtaking places.

Most experiences take place on Saturday, though there are several overnight options. Discovering Mexico through hiking has been magical, bringing me to sites off my radar like Cerro Catedral near Centro Otomi and Miradores de Coloxtitla in Desierto de los Leones (pictured above).

Bethany Platanella, regular contributor

Durango state

John Wayne's La Joya Ranch in Durango, Mexico

Since its heyday for filming Westerns in the mid-20th century, most foreigners seem to have forgotten Durango. The fourth largest state in Mexico, it has just about everything natural except beaches – forests, grasslands, farms and bare deserts. If you have a sturdy vehicle, it is an ecotourist’s dream, with many places still known only to locals.
For the rest of us, there is still plenty, the city of Durango where Baroque meets the cowboy culture, scorpions, mezcal and one of the highest pedestrian suspension bridges in the world. It takes a little planning to visit, but worth it.
Leigh Thelmadetter, regular contributor
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