Thursday, 5 April 2012

Random Viewing

El crack (José Luis Garci, 1981), Arrugas / Wrinkles (Ignacio Ferreras, 2011)

   El crack is a noirish detective story (it opens with a dedication to Dashiell Hammett) set in then-present day Madrid. It has a relatively straightforward plot (and one scene that made me jump), as Alfredo Landa's sad-eyed private detective investigates the disappearance of a businessman's daughter and quickly finds that powerful people don't want him sticking his nose into the affair. Landa is the main reason for watching the film -up until this point he was known as a comedic actor, and so closely associated with a certain style of comedy film that a genre was named after him (landismo)- but here he shows a darker side. It was the beginning of a different stage of his career; a few years later he would win the Best Actor award at Cannes for his performance in Los santos innocentes / The Holy Innocents (Mario Camus, 1984) (shared with his co-star Francisco Rabal). The film has a sequel (the imaginatively-titled El crack 2), which I will endeavour to catch up with in the future.
   Arrugas won two Goya awards this year -Best Animated Film and Best Adapted Screenplay (the first time an animated film had won that category)- and also saw rave reviews after it was shown at San Sebastian last year (Peter Bradshaw uploaded a twitvid review calling it the ‘best film at San Sebastian’). Based on the comic book by Paco Roca, Arrugas follows the goings-on in an old people's home from the perspective of newcomer Emilio (voiced by Tacho González) and later that of his roommate, Miguel (Álvaro Guevara). The film manages to be moving, funny, sad (I cried) and, above all, sincere. A man's descent into Alzheimer's is not an expected subject for an animated film, but it works. I think in part because animation can lend itself to certain surreal touches / representations that might not have worked in a live action scenario (for example, as Emilio is introduced to other 'inmates', he turns back into a child reliving his first day at school, or perhaps a better example is the woman who spends her day gazing out of the window, convinced that she is on the Orient Express -her room turns into a lavish train compartment when seen through her eyes), but mainly because the characters are so believably human and the relationships between them ring true. Recommended.

Further reading:
Caparrós Lera, J.M. (2005) – La Pantalla Popular: El cine español durante el Gobierno de la derecha (1996-2003), Madrid: Ediciones Akal, S.A.
-has a chapter on José Luis Garci.
Jordan, B. and M. Allinson (2005) – Spanish Cinema: A student’s guide, London: Hodder Arnold
-Alfredo Landa is one of their case studies in their chapter on Spanish stars.
Mira, A. (2010) -The A-Z of Spanish Cinema, Plymouth: The Scarecrow Press, Inc.
-has entries for both Garci and Landa.

Miguel, Antonia (Mabel Rivera), and Emilio enact their great escape in Arrugas