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La herencia Valdemar (2010)
Nice tribute to the classics!
The majority of critics have been unfair to this movie. This is a nice homage to the classics of the terror genre and to the world of Lovecraft. Aficionados will enjoy the references with delight.
The story is well told and interesting enough, and though it leaves some loose ends (the second installment will see the light on October), the main story (told in a large flashback) concludes in a spectacular climax that is something to be seen.
The production values are top notch.
The only setbacks are some pieces of dialog, too long and literary, that drag the pace in the middle section.
All in all, this is a remarkable first feature from director José Luis Alemán.
Soldados de Salamina (2003)
The Javier Cerca's book in which this film is based was already an excellent material to make a movie, and director David Trueba doesn't deceive at all the expectations generated.
Trueba's screenplay introduces a lot of significant changes (the main one is the gender of the protagonist, now a woman, a role wonderfully performed by Ariadna Gil), and far from betraying the novel's spirit, all of these changes add a lot of deepness to the story.
As far as the direction is concerned, Trueba mixes admirably fiction, the recreation of historical events and archive material. The main character's investigation about a surprising event at the end of the Spanish Civil War is filmed under a realistic light and with a documentary approach, and that is in harmony with the rest of the textures used to recreate historical facts.
The whole cast deserve special mention, too.
All in all, "Soldados de Salamina" is one of the most interesting Spanish films shown to date. Not only a notable cinematic work, but also a touching story about the nonsense of war and the little acts that ordinary people do in order to redeem our imperfect human condition.
Los clarines del miedo (1958)
An unknown film that must be rediscovered
This is not the typical enchanted look to bullfights, which is one of the most distinctive identification signs for the Spanish culture. This film provides a more darker and insightful look to the fiesta and demolishes almost all the stereotypes surrounding it.
Here the main characters (the two "toreros") are presented with their illusions and respect towards bullfights, but also with fear, making them humans and not simply bravura heroes.
In the same way, the people who attend the spectacle (represented by that pintoresque villagers in an incredibly naturalistic way) are not presented just as simple spectators, but as a fierce audience willing to enjoy the fiesta even if there's blood in the "ruedo".
So, bullfighting is not only shown as a form of macho bravery, art or vane entertainment, but also in a more realistic way. This surprises us today bearing in mind the time when the film was shown, in which all Spanish signs of identity had to be glorified in order to please the Dictatorship.
"Los clarines del miedo" should be rediscovered and praised as one of the most significant Spanish films concerning its traditions.
Nervous Ticks (1992)
A pale reflection of Scorsese's "After Hours"
This film doesn't work and you can blame the screenplay for it.
The premise is very appealing, but the subplots are not well integrated. The one involving a suitcase full of money, for example, is very confusing simply because its twists and turns hasn't any sense.
And it's no more believable the one concerning the woman who wants to get rid of her husband with the help of the protagonist. You just can't believe in the fascination the protagonist feels about her since she's not the kind of femme fatale she would have had to be. She's just plain vulgar and hysterical.
But the worst sin of all is the depiction of the protagonist. It's a pity the key character is so bad written: he is simply not coherent with his objectives. The characters have to behave and act in order to achieve a determinate goal. That seems obvious, but the protagonist of this film takes incoherent decisions and, in addition, at times he seems very polite, well-mannered and incapable of misbehave... and in the next sequence we see him running away with another person's suitcase full of money and planning to kill a man! No coherence here.
This reminded me a lot of Martin Scorsese's "After hours" (a character trying to escape from one disastrous situation only to collide with a worse one), but even the central character there was just passive and things just happened to him, he always tried to escape and he was coherent all along the way. That just doesn't happen with the central character of "Nervous Ticks". And unfortunately, it hasn't either the frantic mood of "After hours" because the plot gets stuck in the middle.
I'm sorry. It was a nice try, but...
The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973)
Disappointing, lacks of nerve and inner coherence
I had heard fantastic reviews about this film, so I was really eager to watch it. And then... What a disappointment! I liked the minimalistic directorial job and some scenes (particularly the end) were rather interesting, but all in all it's hard to believe this film is from the same director of "Bullit" because it lacks of nerve. It has no momentum at all, due to confusing editing and poorly structured screenplay.
To resume, the main problem is that it loses a lot of time developing subplots of little relevance.
For example, the film begins with the images of the set up for a bank robbery, which is very confusing: screenwriter analyst Linda Seger says that the first images from a film have to transmit us the main concept of it, so the viewer can figure out what is going to be told. But during the first half of the movie we see various shoots from the bank robbery, when the robbery itself has little importance. What is real important here is the act of betrayal, and as long as the relationship between Peter Coyle and his friends is somehow ellipsed, the film's concept has no strength at all.
In fact, it is hard to figure out what this movie is about until it has run a long time. That creates confusion and difficults the viewer to be involved.
After watching this film ask yourself who Eddie Coyle's friends were, what were they like and what kind of relationship Eddie had with them, and then you'll understand what I am talking about.
Last Action Hero (1993)
The concept here is brilliant, as it was in Buster Keaton's "Sherlock Jr." or Woody Allen's "The purple Rose...". Collision between fiction and reality is given an ironical and witty treatment, and that makes "Last action hero" one of the most interesting commercial action films of the late years.
Then, why everybody says it is flawed? Aside from the ambivalence of having born with a smash hit vocation and wanting to be something more, which makes the original premise to lose weight along the way, I would say the principal flaws have its roots in a bad structured screenplay: the plot of the movie within the movie (a vane, not original at all mob story) is given too much importance, and when we come to the real point (the confrontation between fiction and reality) we are almost at the end and then a lot of a good story beats happen quickly and disordered, creating a little bit of a mess.
Anyway, let me insist this is, at least, very curious and fun, and movie lovers will appreciate it above all its flaws.
This excellent remake of "All about Eve" have been extremely underrated without motives. First of all,I will say it is far more sordid in its depiction of Las Vegas showbusiness backstage than the majority led you to believe.
The principal guarantee is that it is directed by Paul Verhoeven, one of the most interesting and personal filmakers nowadays, with frenzy and nerve and that mixture of sex and violence characteristic of his filmography, so there's no doubt this is one of his most personal works for the screen. His perverse look to human desire, impulses and instincts and the direct way he brings it to he screen are something really unique and make him an "author" rather than a mere director. Talking about "Showgirls", the exciting choreographies and its connection with what is being told reveal his love and knowledge of the musical genre.
In addition, the script by Eszterhas is a malicious retelling of the Cinderella's tale, manipulative, funny, filled with great dialogue and a sense for rhythm than a lot of screenwriters would like to have.
Gina Gershon shines in her role, but I simply can't believe why the critics deceased Elisabeth Berkley when her performance is filled with enthusiasm and energy.
Bear all this in mind, and at least, give it a try! If you know and admire Verhoeven's work, you will sure appreciate "Showgirls" in its just measure.
Daniel Monzon's second feature as a director is an extremely enjoyable homage to all those films involving great and impossible robberies gone wrong. It has a fortunate sense for hilarious visual gags and it is narrated with very good pulse, even if the conclusion makes it a little bit longer than one would desire. It also has a bunch of funny, well-depicted characters brought to live by a perfect cast. If you catch it, you'll have a good time.
Historia de un beso (2002)
Touching after all
This film has been accused by critics of being slow, tedious and literary in excess.
Yes, it has a smooth rhythm compared with a lot of its contemporaries and the majority of the dialogues lack of spontaneity due to its extreme accuracy. But the story is so warm and near that you can't help feeling touched by it.
"Historia de un beso" deals with memories that hurt as well as they fill us with melancholy when they come back to us. It's a beautiful and sad story about love that cannot be fulfilled but it's always well remembered.
Yes, I agree with the fact that its literacy it's too much calculated, but I've seen people crying with emotion while they were watching the movie, and I found myself touched at the end, too. If you liked Garci's previous movie ("You're the one, una historia de entonces" is the first of a trilogy) you won't be disappointed.
Lady Scarface (1941)
Here's one more little jewel from the RKO collection. An exciting thriller, well plotted, amusing and concise (it hardly arrives to 70 minutes!).
But what makes this film so special is its revolutionary treatment of the noir's conventions and the advanced-for-its-times feminist touch: here, the devious gangster is a woman (fantastic Judith Anderson)instead of a man, opposite to a brave female journalist who will help the police to catch her. The film deals admirably with the confusion game, relaying on the male centric point of view in noir's genre only to turn it down: the male main characters appear here as incompetent (those policemen who think they go after a man because they can't bear the idea of being defeated by a woman) and weak (the whole male gang is completely dominated by the powerful lady Scarface).
Without doubts, "Lady Scarface" is one to watch! Don't miss either "The Curtain Call", from the same director, Frank Woodruff, and a funny screenplay by Dalton Trumbo.