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Vente a Alemania, Pepe (1971)
Typical of "cinema of the neighborhood"
"Cinema of the neighborhood" (Cine de barrio in Spanish) is a self produced TV program of the Spanish public broadcasting corporation. It consists of broadcasting movies of the typical Spanish cinema of the 50's, 60's and early 70's... that frequently means the worst Spanish movies. This one is a great example of the so called "Landism" (Landismo in Spanish) which was those movies with showed a peculiar idea of cinema and very characteristic for almost always the same actors and actresses (Alfredo Landa, who gives his name to the Landism, Paco Martínez Soria, Lina Morgan, Manolo Garisa, Manolo Escobar, Mónica Randal, Manolo Gómez Bur, ...), similar arguments, long women's legs, and a Spanish nerd or redneck man among others.
"Vente a Alemania, Pepe" (Come to Germany, Pepe) anyway could be seen as a sociological movie about the emigration to Germany during the 60's: the promised paradise (not so paradise at last), the difficulties to get accustomed to a new country, the melancholy of the emigrants about their country... and, of course, the hard censorship that flows all over the movie... don't forget we're in 1971, still the hard days of repression during the last years of the dictatorship of General Franco. The movie pretends to show us Antonio Ferrandis (the character of a medical doctor) , who is supposed to be an exiled for political reasons, maybe for being socialist or communist or just a defender of freedom during the war, and show him as a bitter and bitterer man who doesn't worth any opportunity for a new life, for a new hope of free thinking, free acting or free behavior beyond the "law" of the dictatorship.
Nueve cartas a Berta (1966)
That is what existentialism was for Sartre
Lorenzo is an student in the Spain of the 50's, that means during the dictatorship after the Civil War. He has been in England on holidays and he has knew another way of life, other people, another horizon and a girl, Berta: daughter of an exiled. When he comes back to Spain he got involved again in the routine and the traditional atmosphere of his family, his friends and his girlfriend. The boredom of his little town is killing him. The movie is divided in nine parts, each one corresponding to a letter sent to Berta. Most of it is based on the off-voice and it really captivates you with its weariness, its existentialism and its catharsis with the main character, played by the great Emilio Gutiérrez Caba.
Lorenzo eventually has thought: something is not ended yet, but everything is already beginning to change.
La hija de Juan Simón (1935)
Buñuel during the Spanish Second Republic
Since 1935 until the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, a production company called Filmófno worked with the motivation of shooting movies in the way of Hollywood studios: that means, with a contractual situation for technical staff and artists for several movies. Luis Buñuel was elected as executive producer just for training the staff but he actually took part in some scripts. This movie "La hija Dew Juan Simón" ("The Daughter of Juan Simón") is based on a well-known song of the Spanish 30's. The song told the story of an undertaker called Juan Simón who had buried his own daughter. Included in the movie is one of the legendary scenes of all times: the international famous flamenco dancer Carmen Amaya dancing over a wood table and flirting with the main male character. Carmen Amaya some years later, when she was forced to exile in America, took part in some Hollywood movies, such as "Panama Hattie" (1942), "Follow the Boys" (1944), "Knickerbocker Holiday" (1944) and "See My Lawyer" (1945).
First talking movie in Spain
Talking movies shyly became in Spain at the end of 1929. The entrepreneur Feliciano Vitores, who had bought the patent for the system Phonofilm, produced the first Spanish movie which was shot as a talking one introducing sounds of the streets, songs and talking fragments. This movie is a parody of the world of the cinema and its stars (Rodolfo Bambolino / Rodolfo Valentino, Lía de Goldi / Lya de Putti...) and its circulation was very low. Moreover, "El misterio de la Puerta del Sol" had been thought as disappeared for years.
The plot is about an American director Edward S. Carawa and the star of his films, Lía de Golfi who both went to Madrid to shoot a movie about Spanish costumes and traditions. A couple of Spanish typical ones were needed and two friends went to the casting, where one of them fell asleep and began dreaming... He had a plan to become famous
Jesús Galíndez was Basque and he fought in the Spanish Civil War among the Republicans (Republicans in the European form, not the American) against Franco. As a result of losing the war, Galíndez become an exile firstly in the Dominican Republic and eventually in New York where he was part of the C.I.A. Galíndez was (as the U.S. Government recognized) the best secret agent in Latinamerica working for the C.I.A. ... but one day in 1956 Galíndez was kidnapped in the very downtown of Manhattan and disappeared forever. This documentary is based in a wide range of testimonies of people who knew Galíndez, as well as prosecutor, investigators and former secret agents who took part in the trial to explain the Galíndez file.
Nowadays, the Galíndez File is still the most expensive investigation ever made for the F.B.I. (even more than the Kennedy one) and there's still thousands of documents kept as "Top secret" and not publicly known.
The only certain point about the file is that Rafael Léonidas Trujillo, the dictator of the Dominican Republic at the time, ordered to kill Galíndez... but maybe the game of interests of the U.S. Government led the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. to take part on the murder of Galíndez because Galíndez intended to involve the U.S. Government in the fall of Francisco Franco's fascist regime ... but Franco had become a barrier against communism and, you know, we're talking about the 50's.
"The Divine Comedy" by Dante set in Barcelona
Well, first of all, this movie could be considered as a thriller... but with loads of comedy. Adaptation of a novel by Catalonian writer Pablo Tusset "The best that can happen to a croissant"...this last word with a Spanish pronunciation: cruasán. Pablo is a just and only concerned about drugs, sex and alcohol "bon-vivant" of a well-known rich influent family of Barcelona...he is just the opposite of his brother Sebastián. Sebastián asks Pablo to investigate a strange old mansion in the very downtown of Barcelona...but the day after Sebastián disappears apparently with no reason. Pablo has to solve the case in the way of a hard-faced Inspector Clousseau. It really worths watching it and Pablo Carbonell is extremely funny, supported by an extraordinary script written between the proper novelist Tusset himself and the director Paco Mir (one of the components of the Catalonian comical silent threesome known as Tricicle)
P.S. The sentence of the summary is a clue about what the movie is about
Houdinis hund (2003)
Magic or chance?
"Houdinis Hund" is a Norwegian short which deserved the prize as the best short movie in Berlin International Film Festival.
The title means "The dog of Houdini", you know the very well-known escapist Harry Houdini.
Klara and Frederik are cousins and they waste their summer doing kid things like to steal a bone to a "fearsome" dog...which eventually is just a small lovable puppy dog.
Frederik is an admirer of Houdini the Magician and asks Klara to tie his hands with a rude rope and to bury him under the sand of the beach where they are spending their holidays.
He tries to untie his hands but will he manage to get it?
Maybe he needs some help...maybe not. Is it magic or is it chance?
La playa de los galgos (2002)
The beach of the greyhounds
A greyhound is a thin dog with long legs that can run very fast, often in races. But when a greyhound is getting older its destiny it'll be to die hanged because it'll has no use in racing.
This is a metaphor that director Mario Camus uses to tell us about violence and those who use it for a cause, in this case terrorists of Basque separatists E.T.A. and the army in Argentina during the dictatorship of General Videla.
In fact the movie is beautifully shot, specially that traveling when twelve old greyhounds come running through a beach towards the sea in slow motion...but one could say that one is the only moment that worths in the movie.
Two hours and a quarter is too much for this plot and it becomes very very slow and its interesting premise decays whilst the movie goes through.
It's a story about terrorism and violence, about betrayal and loyalty, about love and death..... but in my modest opinion it doesn't worth it.
Carne de gallina (2001)
"Wakin' Ned" à la Spanish
We're in Asturies, top of the north of Spain. A very rich land with coal mines, excellent fishing and incredible sceneries...but there's a time of recession. The mines are closing and the people, just living because they are subsidized, are collapsing down. But suddenly the grandfather dies, who was the pensioner, the only money that gets into the family. And they need that money...so the grandfather must stay alive. The movie has been shot in outside sets and using a funny asturian accent, which is the equivalent (more or less) between a new yorker and someone from South Virginia, or between a londoner and someone from the Scotish Highlands. Funny movie on its funny way. It quite deserves to watch it.
Deux cents dirhams (2002)
It seemed to be Iran, but don't
Short movie about 15 minutes in a sort of arab countryside. A boy finds a 200 dirhams bill. The dirham is the currency of many arab countries. I thought that it was Iran, but the producers are from France and from Morocco so eventually it's quite unable to be Iran.
The boy works as a shepherd and he wants to go to the city with the money...until his uncle drinks it, I mean his uncle is an alcoholic, despite of being forbidden by the Islam.
Anyway, the boy manages to go the city.......but how?
Excellent still photography and marvelous landscapes.
It's worth watch it
Historias de la puta mili (1994)
Wow, it sucks so much......
Adaptation of a Spanish comic strip included in a well-known humour magazine. Well, I have to say that the magazine is splendorous and it is based essentially on political sarcastic humour, but this comic strip is one of the worst ones. Even worse, this movie is absolutely awful with typical humour (if it could be called humour) and a terrifying bad slang intonation of the characters. Wow, it is very very very bad............don't waste your time in any single second of the movie.
Schultze Gets the Blues (2003)
A brand new life after retirement
Schultze, a middle-age early retired German miner always had played polkas with his accordion. Even his father played polkas before him. Now he's retired and there's not much to do in his new boring life. Just eating alone, drinking beer with his friends and playing the accordion. But one night he listens to an exciting music on the radio: a cajun melody and he can not help to play it since that moment. He has found a new meaning to his new life. Comedy, drama, tenderness and a little music on this touching German movie. When I was watching it I couldn't get rid of the thought I was watching the real image of Peter Griffin, the main character of the cartoon series "A Family Guy". "Schultze Gets the Blues" has been awarded as the best movie in the 41th Gijón International Film Festival and its director, Michael Schorr was the best director as well. And I must say both of them were deserved.
Surrealism in Barcelona
"Dante no es únicamente severo" ("Dante is not only rigorous") is the manifesto film of "La escuela de Barcelona" ("Barcelona's Film School").
There is no plot, the movie is just one story after another that a woman is telling to her lover, like a modern Sherezade. There's experiments with the light, the colors, the sound forwards and backwards. Stories of a time that never comes, of princes in blue, of loneliness and desire,... Extremely funny, but ¡beware! don't even try to get a meaning of this movie, just watch it and enjoy it as much as you can I could watch it during the 41th Gijón International Film Festival, as part of a retrospective about the cinema movement which was known as "Spanish New Cinema".
A must see!
Oxford will kill you
This movie is based on a novel by the Spanish writer Javier Marías, who refused the adaptation of his work "Todas las almas" ("All the souls"). After a long time, an old Oxford professor, Robert Rylands, comes back to the lives of Albert, his lover who was abandoned by him, and Albert's sister, who got pregnant of Mr. Rylands and her daughter is almost 10 years old. Albert is very ill and the ghosts of the past emerge to their lives and come to an end with the last journey of Robert Rylands.
A surviving reporter
This documentary is the story of Francisco Boix, a graphic reporter who was a prisoner and a slave in the nazi concentration camp of Matthausen where he shot lots of pictures which eventually where considered as witness in the judgement of Nuremberg, after Second World War.
The memories of the barbarities and the "final solution" of the nazi regime.
Un vol, la nuit (2001)
A thief with good heart
This is a French short movie, about 12 minutes. A thief tries to get a luxury car, but somebody is inside it. It's a well-known female model and she's completely drunk. The thief drives her to his apartment and when she wakes up the morning after there is a misunderstanding between both of them. Quite comical and shows that thieves can also have a good heart. Note: I think Karen Mulder is a real model, working for magazines and stuff.
Amor e Dedinhos de Pé (1992)
Love has strange ways
We are in Macao in the epoch of the Portuguese occupation: a young man is a "bon-vivant", he has no respect for anybody, his life is a continuous race of alcohol, bets and paid sex. But he made a mistake: he mocked a young lady, not attractive at all, and he felt in disgrace with the high society of Macao and he was recommended to leave the town. Then he wanders around and contracts a disease quite similar to leprosy that specially affects to feet and toes and produces several wounds and a stinky smell. But the miracle becomes: the same ugly lady gets charge of him with the opposition of her family and the society.
Carlos contra el mundo (2002)
A misunderstood young boy
After two acclaimed short movies ("Los Díaz felices" and "Bailongas") widely awarded, Chiqui Carabante debuts with a movie: "Carlos contra el mundo" ("Charles against the world") about a twenty year old boy: Carlos, who looses his father in a traffic accident. Carlos musts start working and being the head of the family, but he is not prepared and he doesn't want this responsibility. He still wants to live life, he doesn't consider himself as an adult, but, above all, he is alone, misunderstood, lost and isolated.
Marie-Jo et ses 2 amours (2002)
Is this really a Guédiguian movie?
Located in Marseille (as usual), a middle-age married woman falls in love with another man, not her husband. She decides going to live with her lover. Well, there is not problem at all at the moment, but why nobody explains what are the feelings of the woman, her doubts and stuff? She leaves the familiar house with no explanations, in the manner as she was doing an everyday thing. It's a continuous and ridiculous succession of lovers looking lovers through a window listening to songs like "What a wonderful world" when they make love. And the end, oh dear, the end is so preposterous that I feel very ashamed to tell it to nobody. Guédiguian, I still have faith in your movies ("Marius et Jeanette", ...) but don't frighten me like this never more.
Rue de l'Estrapade (1953)
French don't use showers, do they?
This movie is a superb comedy from the same director of Casque d'or and Le trou. A close friend of Howard Hawks, who helped François Truffaut when interviewing Mr. Hawks for Cahiers du cinèma. A woman notices that her husband has a lover and she decides to leave the house and rents a little room in rue de l'estrapade (estrapade street). The husband tries to get her back but she keeps on her convictions. She looks for a job in a prèt-a-porter shop and she even flirts with another man...but they're still deeply in love with each other. The one line summary is because when the wife rents, the landlord shows her a sort of back-packer and there is no bathroom...so as we used to think about French people, they don't use showers, do they?
El hombre que se quiso matar (1942)
How to feel free if thinking of commiting suicide
This is a splendid Spanish movie of the fourties. Based on a script by the great writer, one of the funniest, Wenceslao Fernández Flórez. Another adaptation of his novels is for instance "El bosque animado". The plot is about a young man who can't get a job as architect, whose girlfriend split up with him and whose father considers him as a complete loser. He decides to commit suicide but before that, he is going to tell everybody what is his opinion about them. It's a very very very funny movie, with a superb script including memorable quote lines. Despite of being an incredible comedy, it pretends to show a bitter critic of the Spanish society after the Civil War...which could be absolutely translated to nowadays. A must see.
...ya no puede caminar. (2001)
What are you afraid of?
A little boy about 10 ten years old is afraid of roaches. He finds one more in the basement. His father tells him that to overcome his fears he must get used to the roaches. The boy captures a roach into a bottle and puts it next to his bed. He does the same with all kind of bugs he is afraid of: snails, worms, etc. Until he eventually captures his masterpiece...but I won't tell...be ready for the surprise.
Una pensión de 1ª división (2001)
A soccer stuff
A young doctor has recently arrived to a little village. He stays in a kind of bed and breakfast. He meets the landlord and the landlady and he falls in love with the landlady who is a soccer supporter. He almost know nothing about soccer but he decides to study about the sport to get closer to her. They both watch a decisive match on the television and, after that, he misunderstands the behavior of the woman towards him. Then, the landlord decides to act. The doctor escapes and..........you must see the surprise!
Anyway, this is not a must see in any case.
Der Pilot (2000)
Who's the pilot of a squash ball?
Good idea for a short movie taking a similar plot to Joe Dante's "Innerspace". Dominique Pinon, the known french actor appeared in Jeunet's and Caro's movies, is inside a squash ball. Two young men are playing with it and one of them wins until the other one becomes furious and starts playing alone. The inner pilot loose control and decides to attack the crazy player. Eventually, Pinon is sent to the outer space where lots of other pilots into lots of other sports balls, such as soccer, basket, tennis and baseball get the form of Saturn, even with the ring.
Jackson Pollock (1987)
Jackson Pollock is the most representative artist of the painting discipline known as Abstract Expressionism. He was the first american avant-garde artist with the same consideration of the critics as the contemporary great masters of Europe. This documentary shows a profile of the painter through the testimonies of the people who knew him and give us real images of his life and Pollock's own works.
Jackson Pollock (1912-1956)was a mid-western who got famous in New York and was considered as a model for his contemporaries. He died in a car accident when he was driving completely drunk, but as a character in this documentary says, this fact could be the ending of a long suicide because Pollock was a depressive alcoholic man.