ANDALUCÍA CHICA is a poorly done homage to the great singer Antonio Molina, who died four years after this film was made. The intention, I guess, was to make a nostalgic story where Antonio doesn't play himself, but Curro, a man from Andalucía who visits Catalonia and meets different people from the title's 'Andalucía chica' (Little Andalucía), migrants from the south of Spain who now live in Catalonia. Obviously, Curro sings like Molina (although in very unfortunate playbacks) and people are amazed, even a group of detectives, girls and business men who follow Curro everywhere, but are never properly developed so their part in the film is really confusing.
Add to that the amateurish way to shoot the scenes, with people in the streets watching the cameras, the use of non-professional actors who simply can't deliver their lines and the fact that Molina, like many singers, wasn't a good actor. There is supporting work of many known actors like Raquel Evans, Santi Sans or Víctor Israel (whose career never ceases to surprise me), whose presence is the only thing interesting. The rest, however, is complete rubbish.
The ideas are there and the basis for a good film, but this ANDALUCÍA CHICA was done without care and is an awful disgrace to the excellent artist Antonio Molina.
In the early 80s there were in Spain many films done by then popular children music bands, a little market of movies that lasted briefly and that were clearly dominated by the most popular band: Parchís.
Another one of those bands, less popular, was Regaliz and this LA REBELIÓN DE LOS PÁJAROS was their first film. The movie, which is a rather good ecologist tale surprisingly well told and acted, does something very smart which most Parchís films didn't; it doesn't base its quality and plot 100 % in the band. Sure, Regaliz is there, they sing and dance and act, but the movie is filled with many other things which make it interesting.
First of all the plot, the sudden disappearance or death of all birds in the city and how this reacts, a very original one in this kind of films, not perfectly executed, but that leaves you intrigued. And then the many actors that do a remarkable job: Jorge Sanz, then a child actor, who proves he was already talented, Assumpta Serna playing the nice and warm dance teacher, Alfred Luchetti and Montserrat Carulla as the strict yet loving parents of the Sanz character and many other performers, veterans or not, whose parts are sometimes of the blink-and-you-miss kind: well known genre actors like Mir Ferry or Victor Israel, Catalan people like Inma Colomer, Llatzer Escarceller, Josep Lluís Fonoll, Joan Pera and a big etcetera. There are even cameos of well known soccer player Quini and her daughter and a nice part for Arianna Grañena (who later played Eugenio's daughter in UN GENIO EN APUROS) as Sanz's little sister, she should have made more films.
All in all, a competent attempt and mix of an ecologist message, musical numbers and showcase of talented performers. As I say, I was surprised...
A "thing" like "Una rosa al viento" can't barely be called movie, being as it is so dead and with nothing that can interest any viewer. More than a film it's an homage (or auto-homage) to the already old and retired Xavier Cugat, more about his talent finder side that his own life; obviously, something with these characteristics is unwatchable, the hour and a half it lasts is filled with a silly plot, and really awful scenes like one where Cugat remembers a musical number he once saw shown in parallel with some kind of dreadful dance made by the main character, a young girl and also a brief cartoon with Cugat and his humor at his worst.
Any hint of character development is inexistent and the homage aspect makes everything on-screen (like the ending) unbelievable. Terrible and dumb movie, with with at least one good thing: Alfredo Landa, that even in this mess is fantastic as usual as the young girl's father. Avoid completely.
One of the rules that exploitation films (being about sex or horror) should follow is to go straight to the point without wasting time with other things; the intentions of those movies are clear and the possible interest of the audience lies in those intentions.
"L'affittacamere" is another one of those awful Italian comedies that are nothing more than a mix of cheap eroticism, where the cute girl gets naked over and over, and gross humor. The problem here is that gross humor is the main subject here and in this kind of film that's unforgivable.
Gloria Guida is the cute girl (actually the only one) who inherits a mansion with her sister that they will use as a hotel; during the movie many guests arrive, some of them really weird, and their interactions with the girl is what the plot is about. There are delirious things like a judge obsessed with signing on female body parts or the junkie police dog, but 100 % of the movie is completely unfunny and the nudity is almost non-existent. Terrible.
Catalan cinema has never been anything special when compared to the rest of the films made in Spain; it has good actors, writers and directors and sometimes something really good is done (like "Amic/Amat" or "El perquè de les coses"), but normally the overuse of many boring subjects like typical comedies makes this cinema become bad.
"Primats" is not the exception, but a good proof of that. It's a peculiar and original comedy, but a very unfunny one, it's a reflection about sex and love, but completely empty and finally an adaptation of a story from Quim Monzó but that nothing has in common with his talent and personality. The director, Jover, tried to innovate and that is to be praised, but you have to know how to do things right and he doesn't. The results and unbearable.
Another one of the terrible productions from the worst period of Spanish cinema, awful but with a couple of good things. The plot is your typical erotic stuff, a doctor that feels sexually attracted to his beautiful nurse and that begins a relationship with her. Of course this is just an excuse to show Cantudo and a couple of other actresses in situations more or less erotic.
The good things I mention is that the movie is shot in Pamplona during the San Fermín days and it can be seen as a good documentary of the time about that tradition. So, between so much nudity and emptiness, you can see shot on first hand and with a film camera, the "chupinazo", the "encierros", the arrival to the square, etc. A peculiar characteristic that makes "La trastienda" not a film to discard completely if only because of that footage. The rest, as I said, is horrible.
The subject of a person away from the world and that suddenly opens himself to it has been done a lot of times in the movies, there's "Nell", "Bad Boy Bubby", etc. "Blue Skies Are a Lie" begins like a modest version of the subject in the same way "The Quiet Earth" was about the end of the world, showing a man that for 7 years hasn't left his home and whose only contact with the outside world is a mail-woman that brings him food, medicines and stuff he needs for his work (he's a journalist).
This first part of the film is very typical, though very interesting, showing the relationship between the two characters and scenes like one where he's forced to leave the house. But where the movie shows its greatness is in the later part, where we see how the main character really is, what is his origin and why he decided to lock himself in the house, because of how painful and cruel the world is for him.
"Blue Skies Are a Lie" is a tremendous film, very hard if you think about it and realizes that this man ends up like that because of us, because of the world, not unlike Henry from "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer". A brilliant film, not without flaws, but excellent.
Love story mixed with a lot of almost boring stuff
You can tell by watching this movie that Marcello Mastroianni wanted to depart from his image of romantic lead and that although "Il momento piu bello" has a love story, the film goes by different paths. So I guess Mastroianni was satisfied.
The problem is that this movie doesn't really know where is going, as I say it looks like the love story is the main theme here, but soon it turns into some kind of documentary about painless births, pregnancies and more stuff about maternity (I know, it sounds absurd). The film is watchable because of the two main characters who have real chemistry (after all is Mastroianni we're talking about) and some moments really well done, but more than a feature film it looks like an educational film for pregnant women. An advice: forget about 80 % of the movie and focus in the love story, there lies what's good about it.
Fernando Colomo keeps using the same comedy pattern in practically every film he does; this isn't necessarily a bad thing, because sometimes it works perfectly and the lack of originality isn't noticed. In this case the results are simply decent, the usual mix of romance and bitterness with funny moments that worked so well in "Bajarse al moro", but that here never gets to fascinate like it did in that movie.
The film follows a plot structure already seen and done a thousand times and frankly, sometimes it gets boring and tiresome. The movie works because of some really good moments, excellent secondary characters (like Cámara) and a very good cast. But obviously the film won't make history.
In this movie something happens that also occurred in Urbizu's previous film, of similar title and identical subject, "Cómo ser mujer y no morir en el intento" (How to be a woman and not die trying) and is that the same message that carries the film (clearly feminist) is introduced in a forced and not very real way, making the characters that surround the main protagonist (in both movies Carmen Maura) simple archetypes based in clichés, being the main character the center of the Universe.
All this in a film that pretends to invite to think makes that what we're being told we don't believe it at all. On the other side, and also like in the previous film, there are enough strictly cinematic elements to make the movie interesting; the subtext supposedly is about a successful woman in spite of all the difficulties she goes through, but all this isn't portrait very good.
The movie is almost saved by the actors. Maura, Antonio Resines, Fernando Valverde and Irene Bau are excellent. 6 out of 10.
This is a movie like many others from a filmmaker who wants to innovate, but stays in the middle of the path. During the Franco years there was in Spain a very conventional and unoriginal cinema, so films like this one are to be praised because they were a bit of fresh air and new stuff like the french did with their Nouvelle Vague.
The problem begins when we focus in the film itself, a confusing love story about obsession (a man who kills because of the despair he feels because he loves a woman), with some kind of forced poetry on it and that frankly, gets boring sometimes. You can feel that this and other movies of the time were just experiments, not products completely finished and developed and from directors who were just beginning their careers. And as such, experiments, they must be seen; but sadly the flaws in both plot and direction are too much to consider it more than just correct. At least we have José Luis López Vázquez, that proves here how great he is as an actor.
"The Danger of Love" is, first of all, a TV movie, and personally I don't care how well written or how original they are (almost never), a TV movie can never surpass a motion picture. I say this because I enjoyed "The Danger of Love", considering my opinion of made for TV productions.
It's a thriller, unoriginal and with no surprises, but that entertains just like things like "Columbo" or "Perry Mason" do. It's about a happily married man that one day has an affair with a younger woman; his wife appears dead and because of his affair he's considered a suspect. That's the basis, no more, no less, a subject seen a million times in far superior films, besides the acting is limited because of the TV medium (Fairuza Balk shows up, but briefly). 6 out of 10.
"Passatger clandestí" proves, first of all, that the best intentions in the world don't make a good film. Villaronga tries here to resurrect somehow the film noir genre on its exotic side, I'm thinking films like Welles' "Lady from Shanghai", but does that in a way closer to Catalan comedy than anything else.
It's not a terrible film, it's a pleasure to see Simon Callow in a lead role or see how talented Mercè Pons is, but the film noir movies always had something that made them fascinating, call it a mood, texture, whatever, and "Passatger clandestí" lacks completely of this, besides having a confusing yet typical plot. Even having some things of interest the film disappoints completely, Villaronga shouldn't mess in unknown territories for him and if he does he should have done it better.
It's been years since I lost all hope on this country's (Spain) 'normal' television, 'normal' meaning the non-digital you don't have to pay... The lack of quality, the trash are more and more often usual. However, like the small village of Asterix and Obelix who resisted the Romans there are still little things, excellent TV programs here and there that show us that there's still people out there who does quality television. And "Silenci?" (silence in Catalan) is the perfect example...
It's a short and attractive cultural program, where they talk about multiple things like art, movies, comic-books, etc. and feature every week a couple of interviews with interesting people without asking them the usual, boring questions... The design, the content, how the interviews are edited showing the stuff the interviewee is talking about, the lovely and fascinating host (also excellent in every possible way) Bibiana Ballbé, everything is combined to create one of the most original things you can find these days on Catalan TV...
But the most intriguing aspect is how all that material is mixed with the concept of "silence", with the interviewees doing the known "Sssh!" gesture with their fingers, recreations of their ideas of an image of silence at the end of the program or Bibiana featured sometimes in different settings toying with the idea of silence, like under the water or stopping a noise from a machine...
"Silenci?" is a fantastic thing, going on for 3 years now and for a show featured in the 2nd Catalan TV channel (Canal 33) is quite successful and popular... They deserve that success...
Short movies, because of their brief running time, suffer obviously from limitations that long feature films don't have. You can't tell some stories in a short and yes, there are stories that don't need more than a short, too. Smart directors (from shorts, I mean) often take profit of this "problem" focusing his films more on technique aspects (like Javier Fesser) or sophisticated plot devices.
José María Goenaga uses in TERCERO B the famous RASHOMON device of several points of view. We see two characters, Irene (an excellent Blanca Portillo) and an unknown man (Ramón Aguirre) meeting in a beach, apparently feeling mutual attraction (I repeat: apparently) and later being protagonists of some circumstances I won't reveal. Well, we see those circumstances through Irene's and the man's eyes. And nothing is what it seems...
Yes, this device is not new (I've seen it not only in RASHOMON or in the Tarantino films, but also in some spanish shorts) but Goenaga makes too a convincing and surprising description of his characters, using only brief dialogues (Irene with her mother, for example) and showing a lot with very little time.
Besides the cinematography is just superb and the actors are wonderful (Mariví Bilbao looked like a mix of Terele Pávez, Pilar Bardem and Lola Gaos). Very recommended.
As complex and brilliant than Zulueta's best film...
I'm talking about ARREBATO (1979), of course.
While Zulueta can be compared to other great filmmakers like Lynch or Buñuel, watching his brief filmography (he had no luck with the film industry) it's obvious that he has his own, magnificent style. An style that combines surrealism, fantasy and most important, the exploration of the fascinating human mind (ARREBATO was a film about an obsession and a dependence).
If someone was in Spain around the 80's and watched the TV (far better than the actual one, by the way) from those years, PARPADOS will look familiar. The style of TV-series like "Turno de oficio", "La mujer de tu vida" and others is here (Madrid, 80's, 'Movida', Almodóvar, Fernando Colomo, etc.) and the same actors too. But the man behind the camera is Zulueta, and this may create a surprise due to the greatness and complexity of the movie and the facts that this is television and not cinema and it's more close (in some ways) to Almodóvar's particular world (again: Madrid, 80's) than to ARREBATO.
The story is not easy to summarize. It's a tale about duality, about 2 characters (Poncela, from ARREBATO, and Paredes) who share a strange connection and maybe, just maybe, are the same person ("My name is Carlos, and Carmen"). We have some scenes taken from differents points of view, two twin sisters who sing and dance (again, the duality) and lots of repeated dialogues and beautiful music only barely listened in the background...
This is Zulueta at his best, and this is PARPADOS, a TV-movie that leaves you with the same feeling than Alain Robbe-Grillet's LA BELLE CAPTIVE (1983), where what was seen and heard was more important than the story and the plot...
PARPADOS is almost unavailable (spanish TV has shown it recently, though) but it is, of course, a must see.
...This is a must. This game was never released in Spain so I wasn't able to play it until very recently with both the original 1987 version and the recent FmTowns 256 colors version (not flawless, though...).
Well, "Zak McKracken..." is not as great as, yes, "Maniac Mansion" and later LucasArts adventures like the "Monkey Island" series, but it contains the same semi-surreal humor, a nice music (the main theme can be heard in "Maniac Mansion", by the way) and well, let's say that its plot is far from being your average one...
Zak McKracken, profession reporter, has a strange dream containing aliens and a beautiful woman. When he's assigned to a work regarding the appearance of a two-headed squirrel in Washington he notices that something is wrong with the world. He finds a mysterious crystal, the woman from his dream (named Annie) and, well, news say that people are becoming idiots because of their phones... And so on...
The game is not perfect, its gameplay system is sometimes annoying (something that happened too in "Maniac Mansion", whose system is identical) and its difficulty is a little hard, but if you love LucasArts games you MUST play (and finish) "Zak McKracken...".
'Makinavaja, el último choriso' was an excellent comic created back in the 80's by Ramón Tosas "Ivá", author of other excellent series like 'Historias de la Puta Mili' or 'Sor Angustias de la Crus'. It was featured with enormous success in the satyrical spanish magazine "El Jueves" right until the author's death in 1993 (by a car accident) and generated a cult following that still exists.
The humor of the series, its critical approach to national issues (Franco, politics, ETA, etc.) and above all, its main character's (Makinavaja or Maki) philosophy were the keys of its success. Because of this success Makinavaja was versioned in theatre, film and TV with different results.
The TV-series was the only one that really captured the character spirit, with an outstanding Pepe Rubianes as Makinavaja, plots faithfully based in the original stories by Ivá and most important, a change of direction during the 2nd season (thanks to José Luis Cuerda) changing the usually bad-taste and scatological humor from the movies by a more satyrical approach...
The supporting cast was excellent too: Mario Pardo, for example, reprising his role from the films proved that he was a perfect Moromierda (just read the comics, this was one of the best characters).
Summarizing, a very well made series especially recommended for fans of the comic and Ivá...
I've just returned from the DARKNESS premiere in the Sitges Film Festival and, well, what can I say. After a loooong post-production (more than 1 year), many things said (about DARKNESS saving the Fantastic Factory from being an Awful Movies Factory, about Balagueró's new and completely out of his style film, OT: LA PELICULA, the comparisons with THE OTHERS,...) here it is, finally, this long awaited movie (at least in Spain)
And what a movie. If Balagueró's first film, LOS SIN NOMBRE, was a good example of what a 'horror film' should be this new film, while similar, offers even more shocks, thrills and suspense telling just what is needed and using SUGGESTION as the tool to create the magic word: HORROR.
The story: a family from the US (Olin and Glen are the parents, Paquin and Enquist the sons) moves to their new house in Spain. We learn just at the beginning that SOMETHING happened there. Something about kids, one that escaped, a circle. And soon strange things begin to happen: the father behaves in an strange way, the little son is noticing a presence, etc. (SPOILERS) Regina (Paquin) is witness of the disintegration of her family and too, notices something, so she, with the help of her boyfriend Carlos (Martínez), investigates if what's happening to her beloved ones has something to do with the house and the presence (or darkness) living there. They find Villalobos (Reixach) the architect that builded the house following the instructions of an strange group of men and...well, Mark's (the father) sickness is increasing, the mother seems to be blind in front of what's happening, little Paul's pencils begin to disappear, Regina receives ominous telephone calls,...
Jaume Balagueró has created a truly horrifying movie. Yes, he uses elements not new in the genre (old pictures found in the basement, old newspapers telling the story, a character that is not what he/she seems,...) and the screenplay is not perfect at all but combining so many excellent elements, like the direction, the performances (wonderful all of them), the lighting, the soundtrack or the special effects he succeeds in having you glued to the screen and almost being not able to talk after the horrifying (and smart, like the LOS SIN NOMBRE one) ending. Among the best scenes are one where Regina is called "B*tch!" by a mysterious shadow, the appearances of the "kids", the disappearances of the pencils, Paul and his father in the car and a big etc.
The performances: Anna Paquin and Lena Olin are amazing and wonderful, they give the best performances of the cast. Iain Glen is incredible, too, I expected less from his character. Newcomer Stephan Enquist is very impressive in a difficult role. Giancarlo Giannini and Fermí Reixach aren't given much to do but they're good in such *dark* roles. The only one that doesn't convince me is Fele Martínez, both his character and his performance are bland and unimpressive.
Summarizing, a great, great success and an excellent film by Balagueró and the Fantastic Factory, especially recommended for those who love to be shocked and for those who think that they can't be shocked.
It is always delightful to discover such an outstanding movie completely unknown for you (even with a star in the cast). They're films that you see by chance, maybe you caught them on TV late in the night.
AMORE E GUAI is a magnificent comedy with dramatic touches, a mix (if that is possible) between the freshness of ROMAN HOLIDAY and the sadness from LADRI DI BICICLETTE. It tells the story of some couples in love, who don't know between them, in concrete moments of their relationship. Some stories are more depressing and others are more optimistic, let's call it a 'neorrealist comedy'.
The stories are not in order, they transpose each other like they did in INTOLERANCE, for example, what makes of AMORE E GUAI not a movie of episodes. The two more interesting are the one with Mastroianni, who plays a train waiter and the sweet relationship of an ex-convict and his deaf girlfriend.
EL ASESINO DE PEDRALBES (The murderer of Pedralbes) is a documentary about José Luis Cerveto, who murdered in 1974 the rich owners of the house where he worked (in Pedralbes, a zone from Barcelona), husband and wife and was immediately convicted to death but after Franco's death, finally condemned to prison for 30 years.
The film is an excellent job, featuring a long interview with Cerveto, those who knew him as a child and as a teenager, his lawyer and some psychologists and doctors. You can see perfectly the background of such a man and the reasons of that horrible crime (hard infancy, pedophile tendencies, intelligence but evident psychological problems,...), everything shown (and there lies the greatness of the film) from the pure objectivity: the documentary doesn't judge Cerveto and his acts. It shows the murderer, his reasons, his behavior, his past and the time and place when he committed the murders (Spain late 70's, where homosexuality was still a crime and things were very different regarding justice).
EL ASESINO DE PEDRALBES is a hard movie, not for all tastes, but a brave and magnificent one, between the best spanish films of the 70's.
Bigas Luna is one of the most interesting spanish filmmakers working today, a director always faithful to his own style and his obsessions (mostly food and sex). His movies are sensual (JAMON, JAMON), strange (LA TETA Y LA LUNA), often fascinating (LA CAMARERA DEL TITANIC), sometimes disappointing (HUEVOS DE ORO). But here I'm talking only about his most modern films (from LOLA or ANGUSTIA, more or less), his first movies were completely different and CANICHE is one of them.
Like BILBAO, CANICHE is disturbing, ugly, dirty, sordid, but also strangely beautiful. Is like poetry extracted from ugliness... It tells the story of 2 brothers, Bernardo (Àngel Jové, the lead from BILBAO) and Eloisa (Consol Tura), who live alone in a huge mansion and as result from an inheritance, begin to hate each other... Their little dog, a white poodle ('caniche' in spanish) becomes the unusual witness of this situation, just like us, and the real lead of the film.
An excellent film very similar to BILBAO and an example of how talented but how different Luna was in the late 70's. And yes, he was better...
This kind of movies were very popular in Spain during the late 70's and early 80's alongside, of course, the "destape" (the bunch of erotic films that filled completely the theatres). These films were half-comedies, half-dramas, about those who entered the post-Franco period already in their 30's or 40's being completely disillusionated and depressed, because the uncertainty about how their ideals will match with the new times (Constitution, political parties, etc.). They were called in Spain 'progres'.
Yes, the subject is interesting and in fact several filmmakers (like Oscar winner José Luis Garci) made some good films about it, but on the other hand films like PEPE, NO ME DES TORMENTO (Pepe, don't torment me) or TIEMPOS DE CONSTITUCIÓN (1978) chose the wrong side: that of unfunny comedy and lack of seriousness in the treatment of the subject.
The movie is about the problems of Pepe (Gutiérrez Caba) regarding a novel he's writing, his sexual troubles (he's engaged to an american girl (Cecilia Roth), and they're very different between them) and above all that disillusion I've described above. But the film is more like a series of unfunny jokes, weird situations and useless dialogues, very unpleasant if you see the movie as a comedy and very amusing if you see it as a drama.
Summarizing, just another example of a movie that doesn't find its proper genre.
Note: The only positive note about the film is the possibility of seeing an early performance of the great Cecilia Roth. Yes, she's not given too much to do (just getting naked and almost nothing more) but she's always a pleasure to watch.
Ok, this is very subjective but being as I am a huge admirer of Emma Vilarasau and Rosana Pastor (the two leading actresses of the film) I just can't dislike this catalan TV-movie, a not very original thriller, but an entertaining and clever one.
The title says it all, DOS MUJERES (Two women), because that's what this movie is about: about these two strangers (Vilarasau and Pastor) who are suddenly involved in a strange and weird crime plot without knowing each other.
Like in the excellent video game "Broken Sword" everything begins with a clown, in this case his murder. The clown was Rosana Pastor's boyfriend and was mysteriously involved in some dirty business with Vilarasau's husband (Jordi Boixaderas), who, by the way, disappears.
As I say the plot develops in a clever way (I don't give details, I don't want to spoil it), the direction is good (as good as it can be being a TV production) and the two actresses are excellent.
Another proof that catalan TV-movies and series have a quality level that the other productions of the country lack.
Stylish short with obvious "Lock & Stock" influences...
Just caught TREITUM bu Javier Ruiz this morning on TV. It's one of those original and enjoyable comedic shorts so frequent in spanish cinema, with influences from several places: the Javier Fesser shorts (voice-over, inventive dialogues, good camera work,...), Guy Ritchie (the presentation of some characters reminds you of "Lock & Stock" or "Snatch") and the cinema from Tarantino or Álex de la Iglesia.
But TREITUM has also his own style, something different that maybe will be developed in Ruiz's future projects.
It explains the story of a boy with a weird family (food obsessed mother, sex obsessed grandpa), who is a member of a gang (where girls are forbidden and whose leader is like an SS soldier...). This boy gets in trouble because he disobeys the gang orders watching other girls (he becomes a Treitum, a traitor).
Yes, it's a comedy and in a first vision maybe a superficial one. But there is a message, something to think about hidden in subtle metaphors: the coming of age of the boy, the leader of the gang, etc.
Summarizing, TREITUM is a very original short, highly enjoyable and also an intelligent one.