Volver (2006)

Cartel_Volver

Written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar

Starring: Penélope Cruz, Carmen Maura, Lola Dueñas, Blanca Portillo, Yohana Cobo, Chus Lampreave

BY BEATRIZ CABALLERO RODRIGUEZ

From the outset, Pedro Almodóvar’s film Volver (2006) tackles the topics of memory and trauma across three generations of women. As the title Volver (meaning to return, to come back) indicates, this film is marked by a strong sense of disjointed time where the past refuses to stay in the past, ghosts refuse to stay buried, traumatic events refuse to be forgotten. Read More…

LOREAK (Flowers, 2014)

loreak-12

Directed by José Mari Goenaga and Jon Garaño

Written by José Mari Goenaga, Jon Garaño and Aitor Arregui

Starring: Nagore Aranburu, Itziar Aizpuru, Itziar Ituño

BY R. MARTÍNEZ

Why do we give flowers to people? Are they a colourful allegory of youth and beauty? Or are they a tangible proof of feelings such as love or perhaps regret? Flowers are the main theme that binds the film Loreak’s female protagonists together. Loreak was filmed in the Basque language and is one of the strongest examples of 2015’s Basque cinema together with Asier Altuna’s enigmatic Amama. Read More…

Nueve Reinas (Nine Queens, 2000)

9 Reinas

Written and directed by Fabián Bielinsky

Starring: Ricardo Darín, Gastón Pauls, Leticia Brédice.

BY PAMELA McLEAN

Sometimes old stories are the best, and Nine Queens has one of the oldest there is: the con is on, and experienced professional Marco teams up with young gun Sebastian to pull off the biggest con of either of their careers. Read More…

La isla mínima (Marshland, 2014).

Isla minima

Directed by Alberto Rodríguez

Written by Rafael Cobos and Alberto Rodríguez

Starring: Javier Gutiérrez, Raúl Arévalo, Antonio de la Torre.

BY R. MARTÍNEZ

2014 was an incomparable year for Spanish cinema. The Spanish film industry started to show signs of recovery from the harsh blow suffered as a result of the economic crisis and the VAT tax rise (from 8% to 21%) imposed by the Conservative Government. This rehabilitation was visible at this year’s Goya Awards where, for the first time in several years, there wasn’t just one clear favourite but a few strong contenders. Andalusian director Alberto Rodriguez achieved a considerable victory over the other nominees by taking home a total of 10 Goya awards for his film La isla mínima, including Best Film and Best Director. Read More…

Relatos Salvajes (Wild Tales, 2014)

Relatos-Salvajes

Written and directed by Damián Szifrón

Starring: Ricardo Darín, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Óscar Martínez, Érica Rivas

BY LUIS EZPELETA

Director Damián Szifron’s last film Relatos salvajes (Wild Tales, 2014) has just arrived at Spanish billboards. After a successful trajectory at the Argentine box-office – where it has already been watched by more than two million people – this grim black-comedy has been selected as the entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 87th Academy Awards, to be held in February 2015. Despite its episodic structure, the six segments the film is composed of share such touchy and common topics as the dark and eerie motifs that lead the human mind to seek for vengeance, and the thin line that distinguishes it from justice. The most quick-witted spectators should be able to identify some references to celebrated American films such as Duel (Steven Spielberg, 1971) and Falling Down (Joel Schumacher, 1993). The film also goes deep into the consequences of madness, human greed, the usage of violence to solve problems, and jealousy. The characters (played by famous Argentine actors) cross the line between civility and brutality too easily. Szifron reaches high levels of narrative quality partly due to the audacious use of the mise-en scene and the soundtrack, both of which help to reinforce the obscure atmosphere surrounding the whole film. The segment entitled “Bombita” (Little Bomb) perfectly embodies the spirit and aim of the whole film. Starring Ricardo Darín, it deals with the story of an explosives expert whose life changes dramatically after getting a traffic fine. We are shown an ordinary citizen’s helplessness at tackling the intricate bureaucracy of corrupt states. As I mentioned before, the film is full of atrocious moments including plane crashes, physical aggression verbal violence and murder. It doesn’t seem strange that it has been labelled as a black comedy. Far from providing moral answers, we are invited to reflect on the essence of human nature. Read More…

Social realism in Spanish cinema: Fernando León de Aranoa

This article was originally published on Issue number 2 of literary magazine Thi Wurd.

No me importa que al morir no haya otra vida,

lo que me preocuparía es que si hubiera otra fuera igual que esta”

Well, the worst thing wouldn’t be if there was nothing after death.

The worst thing would be if there was another life, just like this one

Princesas (2005)

Fernando_León_de_Aranoa_-_Seminci_2011

Written by Raquel Martínez

When thinking about contemporary Spanish cinema, one name usually springs to mind: the highly talented and internationally celebrated director Pedro Almodóvar. However, to what extent does his cinema depict Spanish life and culture? Although not everyone outside Spain is aware of it, a more realistic film tradition has existed there since the early 1950s. It was born under the influence of Italian Neorealism and was mainly represented by the great directors Luis García Berlanga and Juan Antonio Bardem (uncle of actor Javier Bardem) in films such as Welcome Mr. Marshall (1953) and Death of a Cyclist (1955). Many more followed; those who continued capturing the complex socio-political situation of a confused country and its people during the post-war era and the subsequent decades until Franco’s death in 1975. Read More…

El día de la bestia (The Day of the Beast, 1995)

Bestia1

Written and directed by Álex de la Iglesia

Starring: Álex Angulo, Santiago Segura, Armando de Razza

BY R. MARTÍNEZ

Spanish cinema lost one of its most talented and at the same time humble actors very recently. Álex Angulo, who passed away in a car accident at 61 years of age, received hundreds of condolences from fellow actors and artists right after the tragic news reached the net. He was really loved and respected in the profession, and also by the public. At this point, some non-Spanish readers might be wondering who this actor was and which films did he star in. He appeared in various Spanish TV series – Periodistas, for example – and several films. His international breakthrough came with Guillermo del Toro’s fantasy film Pan’s Labyrinth, in which he played the merciful and Republican supporter Dr Ferreiro. In Spain though, Angulo was remembered – and will always be – as Father Berriatúa, Álex de la Iglesia’s El Día de la Bestia’s popular anti-hero. Read More…

Stockholm (2013)

Stockholm

Directed by Rodrigo Sorogoyen

Written by Rodrigo Sorogoyen and Isabel Peña

Starring Aura Garrido, Javier Pereira, Jesús Caba

BY R. MARTÍNEZ

From time to time, one watches a film whose originality and inventiveness are able to surprise and excite even the most worn out audiences’ imaginations, always looking out for a true and special cinematic experience. Stockholm provides a lot of that and a little more. It is fresh and surprising, well-shot and better performed. It is new but has a very powerful cult element to it, borrowing from very interesting sources that should not be revealed, thus intending to optimise the artistic journey that is Stockholm. The less the spectator knows about it, the better. Read More…

El verano de los peces voladores (The Summer of Flying Fish, 2013)

Peces

Directed by Marcela Said

Written by Julio Rojas and Marcela Said

Starring Francisca Walker, Gregory Cohen, Carlos Cayuqueo, Guillermo Lorca, María Izquierdo

By ANA ZUMELZU

The Summer of Flying Fish is the first narrative film by Chilean director Marcela Said, who is known for her documentary works such as El Mocito and I Love Pinochet. It incorporates elements of a traditional coming-of-age tale, along with social and political commentary concerning the conflict between the indigenous southern Chilean Mapuche people and the state over land rights – the so-called “Mapuche movement”. Read More…

Todas las mujeres (2013)

Todas las mujeres

Director: Mariano Barroso

Written by: Alejandro Hernández and Mariano Barroso

Starring: Eduard Fernández, Michelle Jenner, Lucía Quintana, María Morales, Petra Martínez, Marta Larralde, Nathalie Poza.

BY REBECCA NAUGHTEN

Adapted from the TV series of the same name in which veterinarian Nacho (Eduard Fernández) interacted with a different woman in each episode, Mariano Barroso’s film compresses the story down into not much more than a 24 hour period wherein Nacho’s life implodes. I’m not going to say what the exact turn of events are, because it’s something that is revealed gradually, but ‘plot’ is also somewhat superfluous to the real point of the film: a study in character. Read More…

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