Thursday, 12 July 2012

Random Viewing

Anita no perd el tren / Anita no pierde el tren / Anita Takes A Chance (Ventura Pons, 2000), Silencio en la nieve / Silence in the Snow (Gerardo Herrero, 2012).

     I actually watched the Ventura Pons film a few months ago but accidentally missed it out of the Random Viewing thread at the time. Rosa María Sardà (fabulous -the film is worth watching for her conversations with herself alone, not to mention her chuckle) plays Anita. Anita has worked in a cinema box-office for the past 34 years, only to find herself without a job when the owner sells up while she is on holiday (to add insult to injury, the holiday was a 'bonus' for so many years loyal service). On her first day back at work she arrives to find the cinema demolished and a building site in its place. Unable to let go of this key location in her life, and needing a sense of routine, she takes to visiting the site every day, becoming a kind of mascot for the builders and falling in love with the man who drives the excavator (Jose Coronado -also on winning form). Despite that description of the set up, this is not a Hollywood-style romantic drama and it is all the more satisfying for that. It is a funny and warm film -you laugh with Anita, not at her. It's the first of Pons' films that I've seen, but I'll be tracking down some more of them, particularly the other ones that he has made with Sardà.
      Silencio en la nieve was in my 'ten forthcoming Spanish films to look out for in 2012' post, but sadly it didn't quite live up to my expectations. It has an original set up: as far as I can tell, it is the only Spanish film to take the Division Azul (Blue Division) as its backdrop. The Division Azul were a division of Spanish soldiers who volunteered to fight on the Russian Front alongside the Germans in World War Two (communism being a common enemy). The film takes place on the Russian Front in 1943, when a series of murders lead the Spanish high command to hand the investigation to a soldier who in civilian life was a police detective (Juan Diego Botto). Carmelo Gómez acts as a kind of assistant to the investigation (although as far as I could make out, his character outranks Botto's) and is frankly under-utilised. The setting is the most interesting aspect of the film, because it quickly turns into an average serial killer narrative -although not without some striking imagery (such as the frozen horses that feature in the trailer). I felt that a bit more political context was needed (there are several different political factions and allegiances at play, both in the investigation and the crimes themselves) -but this may be because of a) my general ignorance of this slice of Spanish history, and b) I watched it without subtitles, so some nuances were probably lost (although, that said, my addiction to crime fiction novels put me in good stead to unpick the plot). Well made, but not quite what I had anticipated