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7 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Buenas Temporadas here!

10/10
Author: meeza (themeezaman@hotmail.com) from Miami, Fl
27 March 2006

The dazzling multistory "Hard Times (Malas Temporadas)" is clearly a masterpiece in foreign cinema. The film plays itself out as a latino "Magnolia" and one can question whether it pays homage to that film. Director Martin Cuenca develops an interconnecting puzzle of conflicted characters in modern Spain: you have your social worker mom who's teenage son entraps himself in his room each day in order to avoid interaction with others, you have your solitary ex-convict who stalks his former cellmate, you have your amateur pilot who dreams of going to Miami (talk about going to Hard Times! Just Kidding! Like former Florida Marlin Livan Hernandez said after winning the 1997 World Series "I Love Miami"), and you have your paraplegic beauty who plays high infidelity from her rich husband by sleeping with the Cuban (Yea! Cubans rule! Sorry! Being a Cuban American, just had to say it!). The hardening of this tangled web is the time when their lives intertwine into a central fixated message about the love of life. The cast was nothing short of stellar! Respected Spanish actor Javier Camera again demonstrates why the camera loves him with his astute performance as the ex-convict Mikel. Nathalie Poza was stunning as the stressed social worker mom Ana. Eman Xor Ona was sturdy as the Miami dreamer Carlos. The screenplay of "Hard Times" must have been a hard one to develop because of its crossover components but I do commend Cuenca and Alejandro Hernandez for their triumphant scribing effort. You will find yourself having a easy & good time and having a worthwhile cinematic experience when you go see "Hard Times (Malas Temporadas)". ***** Excellent

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A less depressing "21 Grams". Well worth a look!

9/10
Author: corinnku from United Kingdom
8 February 2006

I recently saw this film at the Santa Barbara Film Festival in California. The person who introduced the film described it as being similar to "21 Grams". I agree with this statement, however, where "21 Grams" left me feeling sad and hopeless, I left this movie with a smile on my face and filled with optimism.

Sceenwriter Alejandro Hernandez says the story is "about second chances and hope... hard times are only the prelude to something better." The movie poster proclaims "Life may be full of hard times, but it is ultimately worth it". This is the feeling it gave me.

It is an ensemble piece full of some great Spanish actors (notably Leonor Watling and Javier Camera who give great performances). The characters lives intertwine as they deal with turning points in their lives.

I gave it a 9 because I felt it was a little slow in places, but besides the pace, I think this film has a lot to offer and we can learn from it. The characters deal with struggles - from relationships ending, fear, work problems and low self esteem, but by confiding in others, they find ways to turn their lives around.

I recommend this movie if you need a pick-me-up and if you enjoy Spanish cinema, because this is one of the best Spanish films I have seen recently.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

For life watchers

5/10
Author: aseglab from Maastricht, The Netherlands
23 January 2006

I went to the movies in a cold, lonely afternoon, deep in my thoughts about my problems, nothing to do in the evening but thinking. I randomly chose this movie. And it was the perfect one. Definitely not a superb film, it fits though... perfect for moods like I had that day. Watching the development of some people's hard moments in their lives, from a teenager to an immigrant, a normal worker, a handicapped... can be an interesting activity for those days in blue. Watch it only if you like this kind of movies, otherwise you'll be bored from the first minute -action goes so slowly. Actors do pretty well. I had never seen Eman Xor Oña (Carlos) before and he deserves remarkable attention, his sight fills every scene. Leonor Watling (Laura) and Javier Camera (Mikel) do fine as well, although they don't appear as much as the main character, Nathalie Poza (Ana), who is nominated for the Goya (Spanish Academy awards) and plays a nice role. Through Ana's life you'll experience mother troubles and immigration problems in Madrid as well, with a very accurate approach to the real life and situations in such a big city.

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

mixed bag of several stories

6/10
Author: fnorful from United States
11 April 2006

This is a hard movie to comment on: nothing spectacular but nothing to rant against.

The several story lines each have their interest and each develop reasonably well. The level of satisfaction you find may be more directly related to where you are in your journey than the particulars of each story.

There's nothing new here, although several other comments indicate the typical appeal for nationalism (i.e. one of the Cuban protagonists) or the "unusual" (the paraplegia love interest).

A nice slice of life en Espanol... well-suited for the Spanish film buff.

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Not more than average

4/10
Author: h_u_l_d_r_a from Russian Federation
24 January 2008

There are some exciting scenes in this movie but in general it is second-rate. The shoots are overextended, the characters are not life-like and some actors don't perform well either. I also didn't like multiple nationalist statements which have nothing to do with the plot. I guess the director intended to make his characters mysterious but instead they came out to be unnatural. We are supposed to see how different people successfully struggle with hard times in their lives. But two stories, the one of Carlos and that of Mikel, end up with nothing and the third, the story of Ana, makes a turn without any reason. The movie is very depressive but without any message that derives from it.

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