The Spanish Civil War has been considered one of the most horrendous events in the recent European history and has been depicted by a plethora of writers, philosophers and artists – Hemingway, Picasso and even Guillermo del Toro. But how much do we know about the thirty-five years General Franco ruled in Spain for? Under what conditions did Spaniards live in the 1940s and 50s, for example? This is a much obscure period, due mainly to Franco’s protectionist attitude towards international politics. Continue reading Juan Antonio Bardem – Calle Mayor AKA Main Street (1956)
Dean Corso (Johnny Depp) is a New York City rare-book dealer motivated solely by financial gain. Wealthy book collector Boris Balkan (Frank Langella) hires Corso to authenticate his recently acquired copy of the seventeenth-century author Aristide Torchia’s book The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows, reputedly a version of a book whose author was the devil himself. The book contains nine engravings that, when correctly interpreted and the legends properly spoken, will raise the Devil. Since two other copies exist, Balkan suspects that the book might be a forgery, and asks Corso to travel to Europe determine whether his or any of the other two are genuine and, if so, to acquire them for Balkan, at any cost or by any means. Continue reading Roman Polanski – The Ninth Gate (1999)
As in Vampir-Cuadecuc, this film turns on two basic axes: the inquiry into ways of cinematographic representation and a critical image of official Spain at the time of the Franco dictatorship. “Montage of attractions” and Brechtianism in strong doses. Umbracle is made up of fragments (some are archive footage) that resound rather than progress by unusual links, with dejá vu scenes that promise us more but remaintensely unfinished. Jonathan Rosenbaum said: “few directors since Resnais have played so ruthlessly with the unconscious narrative expectations to bug us”. Learning from the feeling of strangeness caused by Rossellini as he threw well known actors into savage scenery in southern Europe. Continue reading Pere Portabella – Umbracle (1970)
Description: ALL Don Anselmo wants is a motorized wheelchair. The problem is that there’s nothing wrong with his legs, and his prosperous but parsimonious son, the lawyer, refuses to indulge him. The drastic steps the old fellow takes to stop walking and start riding constitute the plot of ”El Cochecito” (”The Little Coach”), Marco Ferreri’s 1960 movie, which is having its American premiere at Film
Mr. Ferreri is best known for ”La Grande Bouffe,” a satire about Franco’s Spain in which several gourmands dine themselves to death. ”El Cochecito,” too, has its satiric edge -almost everybody, even likable Anselmo, is utterly self-centered; when Anselmo goes out of his way to reunite a pair of young lovers, it’s an aberration. You’ll need patience, but as the little tale develops, the movie offers a quirkily rueful look at the loneliness and longings of age. Continue reading Marco Ferreri – El Cochecito aka The Little Coach (1960)
‘A man gets trapped inside a telephone box. Onlookers unsuccessfully try to free him. Then the men from the telephone company arrive, but relief turns into puzzlement, then horror, as it transpires what they have in store for him.’
– Donald Fisk Continue reading Antonio Mercero – La cabina AKA The Telephone Box (1972)
Oriol and Yolanda live in Paris with their two daughters. He is an architect, she is a teacher. An accident while on holidays in the Ebro Delta changes their lives. Continue reading Jaime Rosales – Sueño y silencio AKA Dream and Silence (2012)
Harshly treated by the critics on release, of Pedro Almodovar’s work, Kika is perhaps the one that most benefits from re-viewing and re-assessment.
The story of Kika (an astonishing Veronica Forque), a Madrid makeup artist whose relationship with Ramon (Alex Cassanovas) leads to criminal schemes involving Kika’s maid Juana (Rossy DePalma), Jauan’s amorous, criminal brother Pablo (Santiago Lajusticia) and Ramon’s youth-obsessed father Nicholas (Peter Coyote). Overseeing it all is the muckraking, reality tabloid television show presided over by the formidable Andrea Scarface (a uniquely attired Victoria Abril).
Attracting controversy because of the scene in which Almodovar depicts Kika’s rape at the hands of Pablo with humorous detachment, the scene has since come to be more popularly viewed as further evidence of the director’s tribute to the power of women. Continue reading Pedro Almodóvar – Kika (1993)