Wednesday, 28 September 2011 has arrived

Just a quick FYI: the Spanish Amazon site opened a couple of weeks ago.
I haven't actually ordered anything through it yet, but the postage to the UK is a reasonable 6€. I'm adding the link to the DVD shop list in the column on the right and updating the resources post so that it's included -if you already have an Amazon UK account, you just enter your usual login. I've ordered things from Amazon France before without a problem and I doubt that this will be any different -but I'll post some sort of update when I have ordered something (how long it takes to arrive, etc.).

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Yet more random viewing

Clockwise from top left: Los cronocrímenes / Timecrimes (Nacho Vigalondo, 2007), La mujer sin piano / Woman Without Piano (Javier Rebollo, 2010), Biutiful (Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2010), Muertos de risa / Dying of Laughter (Álex de la Iglesia, 1999)

This the latest batch of films I've watched -I tried to watch a fair few before I went back to work / started the second job so that I could store up some of these posts. In this case my viewing tactics resulted in a bit of mixed bag. I'm late to the party with Timecrimes, although I've had numerous people recommend it to me, and I liked it very much. I liked that on the one hand it manages to be very clear (the different time frames / Hectors are clearly delineated -a lot of thought has gone into how events unfold and everything has a pay-off) but on the other it is still something of a mindfuck. In summary: clever and entertaining. In contrast, La mujer sin piano is a difficult film to summarise. Essentially it is 24 hours in the life of a Spanish housewife (played by Carmen Machi), mainly focussing on her nocturnal adventure when she seems to walk out on her humdrum life and sets out to get a bus to an unknown destination, but ends up walking the streets of the city as nothing goes as planned. It's one of those films that you either get into, or it leaves you cold -I struggled for the first half hour but persisted because I was intrigued as to what was going to happen to her. There's a nice line in quietly deadpan humour and an unusual use of sound. Biutiful was one of the films I mentioned a while back saying that I would write about it –I’ve been putting off watching it because my general impression was that it was a misery-fest, although in the event it wasn’t as bad as I’d been led to believe. I will write about it soon, probably focussing on Javier Bardem's performance, which I think is the main strength of the film. I really like some of Álex de la Iglesia's films (El día de la bestia (1995) and La comunidad (2000) are particular favourites of mine) but likewise others just do nothing for me: unfortunately Muertos de risa (which I hadn't seen before) falls into the latter category.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Random Viewing

Clockwise from top left: El baile de la Victoria (Fernando Trueba, 2010), La mitad de Óscar (Manuel Martín Cuenca, 2011), Pagafantas (Borja Cobeaga, 2009), Primos (Daniel Sánchez Arévalo, 2011).

Of Trueba’s two most recent films, I prefer Chico & Rita, but the presence of Ricardo Darín (as always) makes El baile de la Victoria worth seeing. La mitad de Óscar is an existential family drama. There is little dialogue but the absence of words (and long silences) create a tense and fraught atmosphere between siblings Rodrigo Sáenz de Heredia and Verónica Echegui (a face to watch –her star is definitely on the rise and she is one of my favourite young actresses) –something has happened in the past that they are carefully tip-toeing around. We have to read between the lines until the final meeting between the two (which is played out in silhouette in front of a window overlooking the sea as the sun rises –we can’t see their facial expressions but everything that they don’t say is clearly telegraphed via their body language). Pagafantas is a kind of anthropological take on the dating game and its attendant rejections –and very funny with it (I was still chuckling over bits the next day). Primos is Daniel Sánchez Arévalo’s third film, reuniting him with the group of actors who are becoming his repertory company (Quim Gutiérrez, Raul Arévalo, and Antonio de la Torre), and is a comedy with a lot of heart. There are several standout sequences (notably Quim Gutiérrez’s opening monologue, which I imagine will now become a set text for auditioning actors, and let’s just say that the next time I hear the Backstreet Boys I’m liable to get an attack of the giggles) but I think that he’s an outstanding writer as a whole –he is one of the few writer-directors (Almodóvar springs to mind as another) who can switch between comedy and tragedy with ease and without unbalancing the film (the opening monologue is again a good example because it is funny and sad at the same time), and he also seems to have a genuine affection for the characters he creates.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Update: partial hibernation

Just a brief update to let you know that activity on the blog is likely to be a bit slower for the next month or so. I've been working part-time during the period that Nobody Knows Anybody has been running, but I have finally acquired a second part-time job that will take my working hours almost up to full-time. I start the second job next week -it is temporary, but will see me through to next year. The blog will continue to run, but I think it's likely that posting activity will slow down during the first month; once I get into a routine, I expect that my posting patterns will be back to 'normal' (given that the frequency of posts is variable from month to month anyway). But for the time being, the 'Random Viewing' posts are probably going to be the norm.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

More Random Viewing

Clockwise from top left: Nadie hablará de nosotras cuando hayamos muerto / Nobody Will Speak of Us When We Are Dead (Agustín Díaz Yanes, 1995), Flamenco Flamenco (Carlos Saura, 2010), La piel que habito / The Skin I Live In (Pedro Almodóvar, 2011), Chico & Rita (Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal, 2011).

A while back I mentioned my intention to write about Díaz Yanes’ 1995 film but it got put to one side during my preparations for Almodóvar Month. I have now rewatched it, so I will write a post about it (and possibly its sequel, Sólo quiero caminar (2008), one of my favourite films from recent years) in the near future. The Skin I Live In and Chico & Rita have both been released in UK cinemas this year (the former is currently in cinemas and the latter is now available on DVD) and are well worth checking out, and I really enjoyed Saura’s documentary / performance showcase (even if it did make me feel woefully Anglo-Saxon) –it doesn’t seem to have any planned release date for the UK, but will be available on DVD in Spain soon (I watched it over at Filmin).

Friday, 2 September 2011

London Spanish Film Festival, 23rd September – 6th October

Back in April, the Festival held a Spring Weekend Edition, but this is the festival proper, now in its 7th year.
The 2011 programme includes three of this year’s four nominees for the Best Film Goya –Balada triste de trompeta / Sad Trumpet Ballad (a.k.a. The Last Circus) (Álex de la Iglesia, 2010), Pa negre / Black Bread (Agustí Villaronga, 2010), También la lluvia / Even the Rain (Icíar Bollaín, 2010) (the fourth film, Buried (Rodrigo Cortés, 2010), has already had a cinema run in the UK), plus two of the directorial debuts that saw their directors nominated for Best New Director – Bon appétit (David Pinillos, 2010), and Todas las canciones hablan de mí / All The Songs Are About Me (Jonás Trueba, 2010). The full list of films can be found here.
Several of the screenings include Q&As with cast or crew –many are still TBC, so check the website for further details. The programme includes sidebars on Catalan and Basque cinema, as well as a special strand dedicated to actress Geraldine Chaplin (the screening of Ana y los lobos / Ana and the Wolves (Carlos Saura, 1973) is due to be followed by an on-stage interview about her acting career), and an homage to celebrated director Luis García Berlanga who died last year (films to be screened include ¡Bienvenido Mr. Marshall! (1953), Plácido (1961), Tamaño natural (1974), and ¡Vivan los novios! (1970)).