Sunday, 29 April 2012

Random Viewing

Crebinsky (Enrique Otero, 2011), La torre de los siete jorobados / The Tower of the Seven Hunchbacks (Edgar Neville, 1944).

   Crebinsky was on my list of films from last year that I wanted to catch up with, having heard positive things about it as it played at film festivals. It is the story of two brothers (played by Miguel de Lira and Sergio Zerraeta) who as children are washed away from their village during a flash flood (seen in an animated prologue to the film proper) and who now live along the coastline with their cow, Mushka. This is the 1940s but they are oblivious to world events unfolding around them (and out at sea -Luis Tosar plays an American submarine commander) and when a Nazi pilot crash lands onto their beach, they are more interested in his boots and a nice flashing red light than concerned as to who he is. This sets in motion a 'plot' whereby the brothers wander around looking for the wilful Mushka whilst unwittingly being pursued by Nazis looking for their missing pilot (the flashing red light is a tracking device). The film is most often compared to the work of Jean Pierre Jeunet and it does have some traits in common with his films (for example, the semi-muteness and innocence of the protagonists, and a level of gurning that suggests that Dominique Pinon might be giving lessons) but visually it is quite different to Jeunet's distinctive style. That said, I think that director Enrique Otero might share a key inspiration with Jeunet, most notably evidenced through their shared delight in contraptions: namely the illustrator / inventor Heath Robinson. At least, that is the connection that these English eyes saw. The film has an enjoyable line in absurd humour and overall I'd recommend it.
    With the second film I have to start with an admission of ignorance. Until very recently I'd never heard of Edgar Neville, never mind seen any of his films -but he was a key figure in the Spanish cinema of his era, with many of his films regarded as classics. La torre de los siete jorobados is described on Filmin's website as 'the first Spanish cult movie' and one of the classics of fantasy cinema. A young (and somewhat naive) man, Basilio, receives a tip-off at the roulette table from a mysterious, eye-patched man, and wins a lot of money. The man with the eyepatch (who nobody else seems to see) turns out to be Professor Robinson de Mantua, an archeologist murdered exactly one year ago: he is a ghost. He has returned because he needs help to protect his niece from the men who murdered him. Basilio agrees to help. What follows is an atmospheric tale of derring-do, ghosts, secret codes, and subterranean lairs (some of the set design is awesome). And hunchbacks. Lots of them. I really enjoyed it.