Friday, 20 December 2013

Twelve Spanish Films from 2013 to See in 2014

I thought that I'd start my consideration of 2013 by looking at the Spanish films from the past year that I haven't managed to see yet. I usually choose ten films, but in the last few months a host of films have piqued my interest. I've deliberately avoided choosing films that I mentioned at the start of the year (with one exception) and also those 2013 films that I've already acquired on DVD but haven't watched yet (which include Ayer no termina nunca (dir. Isabel Coixet), A puerta fría (dir. Xavi Puebla), Alacrán enamorado (dir. Santiago A. Zannou), and Barcelona nit d'estiu (dir. Dani de la Orden)). As usual, titles that appear in square brackets are my translation when there doesn't appear to be an official English language title. I've also indicated if a trailer lacks subtitles (several of them are wordless, so I've only said ‘no subtitles’ if dialogue is included). 



15 años y un día / 15 Years and One Day (dir. Gracia Querejeta)
Drama. Trailer (no subtitles).  
From the synopsis, this doesn't really sound like anything out of the ordinary - a mother (Maribel Verdú) sends her delinquent son (Arón Piquer) to stay with his ex-miltary grandfather (Tito Valverde) in the hope of straightening him out. I'm guessing that it's a 'learning experience' for everyone. It's on this list because it's Spain's entry for the Foreign Language category at the Oscars - so I'm a bit curious about it (also curious to see if this maintains the trend of being the film nominated by the Spanish Academy to represent Spain, but ending up not being the one they award Best Film at the Goyas - this always strikes me as being similar to end of year lists where people nominate films for the impression they give of themselves rather than what they actually like. The 'tasteful' film goes into consideration for the Oscars, but the actual 'favourite' wins the Goya. Sometimes.).



Caníbal / Cannibal (dir. Manuel Martín Cuenca)
Thriller. Trailer.
I've deliberately avoided replicating my 'Forthcoming Spanish Films in 2013' list from last January, but of the films on that list this one has moved to the top of the pile. Manuel Martín Cuenca's La mitad de Óscar / Half of Oscar was in my end of year top 5 in 2011 and it sounds as if he has again created a window into the life of a taciturn man (here played by Antonio de la Torre) whose solitary existence is disturbed by the arrival of a woman who brings with her echoes of the past. La mitad de Óscar seemed to me to partly be a study in loneliness, or how our loneliness becomes apparent to us when it is thrown into relief by the company of others - the trailer for Caníbal suggests something similar, but it is a good exercise in revealing atmosphere rather than plot (and I am deliberately going in as blind as possible). I also hope to catch up with the director's earlier film, La flaqueza del bolchevique / The Weakness of the Bolshevik (2002). 



Con la pata quebrada / Barefoot in the Kitchen (dir. Diego Galán)
Documentary.
A history of how women have been portrayed onscreen in Spanish cinema (utilising clips from more than 150 films from the 1930s onwards), and by extension (one would imagine) revealing something of their changing status within the country itself. Given that it is co-produced by El Deseo, I'm hopeful that it will make an appearance on DVD at some point.



El futuro / [The Future] (dir. Luis López Carrasco)
Drama. Trailer.  
A house party in 1982, in the aftermath of the PSOE's historic general election victory. This hasn't acquired distribution in Spain yet, but has been playing on the festival circuit to some acclaim (see Michael Pattison's guest post about SEFF) and has been championed by several Spanish film publications as being part of the burgeoning 'otro cine español' (as have several other films on this list). I'm hoping that it will either reach a VOD platform or a UK festival (that I actually manage to get to!). 



Gente en sitios / People in Places (dir. Juan Cavestany)
Comedy. Cast: nearly every actor currently working in Spain. Seriously.
Trailer (not subtitled), or a subtitled sequence on the TIFF site.  
A fragmented, but collective, take on the country and its people at this time of economic crisis - generally getting a raw deal at the hands of the ruling classes. If ever a situation cried out for a touch of cinematic esperpento (a jet-black humour characterised by a grotesque distortion of reality with the intent of critiquing society), then it is surely that which Spain is currently undergoing (although how much reality actually needs to be distorted in order to make it grotesque at the moment is open to debate). By all accounts it is a very funny film, but also more political than it may appear at first glance. 



La herida / Wounded (dir. Fernando Franco)
Drama. Trailer.  
The feature debut of editor (Blancanieves (Pablo Berger, 2012) is among his credits) Fernando Franco, La herida follows ambulance worker Ana (Maria Álvarez) who (unbeknownst to her) suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder (characterised by extreme swings in emotion and self-destructive behaviour). That's not really a 'plot' and my understanding is that it's more of a character study than a narrative, which means that it will stand or fall on Álvarez's performance - she has won several awards for the film, including 'Best Actress' at San Sebastián - 2013 has been a good year for female performance in cinema generally, so I'd like to catch up with the one that has stood out in Spanish cinema.




Història de la meva mort / Story of My Death (dir. Albert Serra)
Drama.
Another veteran of the festival circuit (winning the Golden Leopard in Locarno) and another film yet to be released in Spain (it has only played the Filmoteca de Catalunya so far, although rumour has it that it will get a cinema release in early 2014). It is one of only two 'Spanish' films in Sight & Sound's top 30 of 2013 poll (the other being Blancanieves - and in the battle of mythical figures, Dracula and Casanova rank higher than Snow White in this instance) and, while the film has not won favour in all quarters (and Serra's self-aggrandisement can be rather abrasive), it has cropped up often enough for me to think that I should try to see it if the opportunity presents itself. 



Los ilusos / The Wishful Thinkers (dir. Jonás Trueba)
Drama. Trailer.  
Described as an 'intermission film', Los ilusos seems to be about in-between spaces - it follows a filmmaker in between films, passing the time with friends and loved ones, and his (and their) exploration of the spaces of Madrid. I don't know if Trueba has been highlighting issues surrounding distribution and exhibition in Spain, but there is only one copy of the film and he has been accompanying it on its travels - and it is another film that has received attention for its low budget (it was filmed over several months as and when people were available to work on it). This seems markedly different to his previous film, Todas las canciones hablan de mí / All the Songs Are About Me (another former 2011 favourite of mine) and I'm eager to see where Trueba is heading.


 
Stockholm (dir. Rodrigo Sorogoyen)
Drama. Trailer.  
Two people (Aura Garrido and Javier Pereira - referred to simply as 'Her' and 'Him' in the credits) meet at a party, they spend the night together, but the next morning the game of seduction takes on a darker psychological hue. Both actors have been praised for their performances, with Garrido (who also stars in Los ilusos and is one of my 'faces to watch') picking up several awards. I've avoided reading too much beyond the initial synopsis.



Todas las mujeres / [All the Women] (dir. Mariano Barroso)
Originally a 6 part TV series from 2010 in which veterinarian Nacho (Eduard Fernández) interacted with a different woman who signified something important in his life (his wife, his lover, an ex-girlfriend, his mother, his sister-in-law, and his psychologist) in each episode, the film reworks this into a tight ensemble piece (with all of the same cast - Michelle Jenner, Marta Larralde, Petra Martínez, María Morales, Nathalie Poza, Lucía Quintana) without an ounce of fat on it. Fernández falls into that category of actors I would watch reciting the phone book, but the reviews suggest that the women match him.



Tots volem el millor per a ella / Puzzlement (dir. Mar Coll)
[Note: a literal translation of the title would be We All Want What's Best For Her - the film is also known by its castilian Spanish title, Todos queremos lo mejor para ella]. Geni (Nora Navas) is recovering from a traffic accident, but as she does so she finds that her old life holds little attraction for her despite the encouragement of those around her for her to return to 'normal'. As her behaviour becomes increasingly erratic, she can think of only one thing: escape. This is a case of the combination of director and actress attracting my attention - I still haven't seen Mar Coll's directorial debut, Tres dies amb la familia / Three Days with the Family, for which she won Best New Director at the Goyas in 2010, but she seems to be quietly carving out her own space for herself. I saw Nora Navas for the first time in Pa negre and she really impressed me there - this looks like a role she could have some fun with.



Tres bodas de más / Three Many Weddings (dir. Javier Ruiz Caldera)
Low budget festival bait may be something of a trend in this list but that doesn't mean that I haven't had my eye on the more commercial end of the market as well (several of the films I had on my January list, such as Las brujas de Zugarramurdi (dir. Álex de la Iglesia) and La gran familia española (dir. Daniel Sánchez Arévalo), fall into that category - I'm waiting for them to appear on DVD). Tres bodas de más arrived in Spanish cinemas in early December (having premiered at Venice as the closing film), just in time to give the Spanish box office some much-needed oomph. The basic set-up is that Ruth (Inma Cuesta) has the misfortune to be invited to not one but three of her exes' weddings in the space of one month - what ensues has been described as Howard Hawks meets the Farrelly Brothers, which sounds...an unlikely combination, but I've also seen Cuesta's performance described more than once as a gender reversal of the Cary Grant-as-nerd roles (Ruth is a marine biologist and her nerdishness is signalled via the international shorthand of Very Large Glasses). Cuesta has the comic chops to be very funny and Javier Ruiz Caldera's Promoción fantasma / Ghost Graduation is a sweet-natured film that seemed to actually like its characters rather than simply set out to ritually humiliate them, so fingers crossed for this one (although I will admit that finally seeing the trailer while writing this post has dampened my enthusiasm somewhat). Bonus: Rossy de Palma plays Ruth's mother.

Those are the films that I'm particularly looking to catch up with, and each seems to have occupied a significant place in the landscape of Spanish cinema in 2013, but there are many others in the mix (not to mention the numerous 2012 titles I've yet to get hold of). Several of the films mentioned above are due to arrive at Filmin in the first quarter of 2014, so they should make a return appearance here in the coming months.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

The Late Show: Alfredo Landa

My contribution to Shadowplay's Late Film Blogathon, in which I should be discussing Luz de domingo, but mainly focus on the career of Alfredo Landa because I really disliked the film.

Alfredo Landa, 1933 - 2013

     In the introduction to the edited collection British Stars and Stardom, Bruce Babington states that indigenous stars:
'[...] give things to home audiences that Hollywood luminaries cannot - reflections on the known and close at hand, typologies of the contingent, intimate dramatisations of local myths and realities - which, when they fit into Hollywood's categories, make the performers who embody them world stars, while others remain local stars - but no less meaningful for that.' (2001: 10)
It has often struck me that while there is a certain amount of pride manifested when one of 'our own' makes it in Hollywood (they're ours! we spotted their potential first!), often those who remain geographically closer are regarded with greater affection; they're more clearly marked as belonging (exclusively) to us and we can pat ourselves on the back for having recognised a talent that is (we think) under-appreciated elsewhere. [Possibly it's only the British who have this sense of smugness with regard to our actors, but I think it's probably universal]. I happened to be logged in to the blog's twitter account when the news of Alfredo Landa's death broke back in May, and for the rest of the day my timeline was filled with an outpouring of affection from Spain that seemed universal (there was no sign of the usual twitter phenomenon where people feel the need to berate those who are moved by the passing of someone they didn't actually 'know'). What was striking though, was the range of films and characters that were mentioned - while Landa owed his iconicity in Spain to a particular set of films (which resulted in a sub genre, landismo, being named after him), his career as a whole had three quite distinct stages (his fame originated from the middle one). So while the blogathon requires me to focus on the end of his career, I'm going to start by outlining how Alfredo Landa's image / persona developed.



     Having started out in the theatre, Landa entered the Spanish film industry, in his own words, 'por la puerta grande' [by the big door] - his first proper screen credit was as part of the ensemble cast (José Luis López Vázquez, Manuel Alexandre, Agustín González, Cassen, and Gracita Morales forming the illustrious company in which he made his debut) in José María Forqué's Atraco a las tres / [Bank Robbery at Three O'Clock] (1962) [the opening credit sequence, which introduces the characters, is above] in which a group of bank employees decide to rob the branch they work at. It is probably my favourite Spanish film that I've watched this year - a timeless comedic masterclass that to my mind recalls the best of Ealing. Landa's character, Castrillo, is the youngest of the group and the most reluctant to take part in the robbery (all quavering voice and tremulous glances), but is eventually made the getaway driver (in one set-piece they teach him to drive). There followed a series of supporting roles / ensemble parts in films such as El Verdugo / The Executioner (Luis García Berlanga, 1963), Casi un caballero / [Almost a Gentleman] (José María Forqué, 1964), Historias de la television / [Stories of the Television] (José Luis Sáenz de Heredia, 1965), and La cuidad no es para mí / [City Life is Not For Me] (Pedro Lazaga, 1966). 
     In the late 1960s Spain was undergoing a period of massive economic development and extremely slow liberalisation as the Franco regime attempted to attract foreign investment - this was known as desarrollismo (literal translation, 'developmentalism'), and initiated the transformation of Spain from a largely rural country to an industrialised (urban) society. This was however tightly controlled by the regime and its expression on film came out in markedly different forms. On the one hand, you had the proponents of the 'nuevo cine español' (filmmakers such as Carlos Saura and Víctor Erice) who represented the fractures in Spanish society (necessarily) opaquely via metaphor and symbolism, and on the other you had the popular cinema in the form of the paleto (country bumpkin) comedies and la comedia sexy ibérica (iberian sex comedy) - it was in the comedies that Landa made his name by representing a masculinity under threat, filled with social anxieties caused by rapid social change (including the changing status of women), often living the life of the economic migrant, and manifesting the conflict between tradition and modernity. In this context, Alfredo Landa came to stand for 'the average Spaniard'. In the late 1960s, Landa represented the likeable rogue, a charmer driven by irresponsible pleasure-seeking (usually sexual) desires, an anarchic imp who was nonetheless usually reined in by the end of the narrative and married off to a nice Spanish girl to settle down within the expected norms of conservative Spanish society.

Performing Antón's 'gay' alter-ego in No desearás al vecino del quinto (Ramón Fernández, 1970),
     Landismo arrived with No desearás al vecino del quinto / Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbour From the Fifth Floor (Ramón Fernández, 1970), a film that attained such a high level of box office success that its record remained unbeaten until the release of Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios / Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Pedro Almodóvar, 1988) almost twenty years later. The film effectively launched Alfredo Landa as a national star and led to the coining of the term landismo, which has been defined as:
'[...] the offspring of the confusion and the uncertainty, in a country immersed in too many changes that it did not understand too well. It also shows a code half-way between perplexity and doubt...characters trapped on the crossroads between tradition and modernity, the new Spaniard was undecided between the stability he had just abandoned and the fuzzy and uncertain perspectives that were slowly forming on the horizon' (Diccionario del cine español, p.493 - translation taken from Vivancos 2012: 45)
This is summed up early in the film by one of the characters describing her generation as being too modern to be provincial, but too provincial to be modern - Landa often occupies that no-man's land in between these two sides of Spanish society. The plot of No desearás... concerns a young, handsome gynaecologist (Jean Sorel), working in provincial Toledo, who is continuously assaulted by husbands, fathers, and brothers outraged that he has seen their womenfolk in a state of undress. In the same town is Antón (Landa), a boutique owner and fashion designer who spends all day around scantily-clad women without any of the physical threats because he is widely assumed to be gay (homosexuality is never actually mentioned within the film - the coding is done visually through Antón's dress and modes of behaviour). However when Sorel's character goes to Madrid for a conference, he bumps into Antón in a club and discovers that the 'homosexuality' of the latter is just a masquerade to allow him to develop his business without violent misunderstandings - he's actually a randy heterosexual male who spends a week of debauchery in Madrid every month, seducing Swedish air hostesses who cannot resist his iberian charms (suspension of disbelief is required for this latter aspect and it is a source of the comedy that ensues when Antón takes Sorel's innocent character out on the pull). The friendship that develops between the two men leads the townsfolk of Toledo to believe that they are having an affair (Antón is the eponymous fifth-floor neighbour of the title) - 'hilarity' and more violence follow, alongside a conventional ending of sorts that sees both men reunited with their respective spouses (in secret) but maintaining the charade of their own relationship for business reasons.
     The film was loudly dismissed by commentators at the time, in the way that 'popular' cinema often is (for example, the President of the Association of Film Distributors declared in 1982 that '80% of this country's film output is not culture' (cited in Triana-Toribio 2003: 114). Bless), and alongside other popular films of the era it has been paid little attention in a critical sense until relatively recently (because of their supposed lack of artistic merit). Spanish friends I have spoken to about landismo (this is the only one of those films I've seen so far) seem to regard the films as something of an embarrassment, a bit naff. The film is definitely of its era but Landa's affability shines through despite the dodginess of the film's gender and sexual politics - to me, it didn't seem all that different to the British Carry On series, insofar as there is a lot more tease than show (it's something of a misnomer to call them sex comedies given the lack of sex, or indeed actual nudity) and the central performance is one of genial familiarity (there is also a parallel with the Carry On films in the way that, over time, an extended group of familiar faces who share multiple screen credits build up a linked association in the minds of the public). But landismo came to an abrupt end as censorship faded out in the late 1970s and the destape (literal. 'undressing') took off - no need for films that hint and tease when anything goes. What followed was Landa's reinvention as a 'serious' actor (the third stage of his career), which is widely agreed to have been achieved with three particular films: El puente / [The Bridge] (Juan Antonio Bardem, 1977); El crack (José Luis Garci, 1981); and Los santos inocentes / The Holy Innocents (Mario Camus, 1984).   
        I haven't seen the first of those films, but it apparently takes the temperature of the nation by having Landa cross the country on a motorbike and having a series of encounters with different social / political groups. El crack, which I'll return to as it connects to Landa's last film, showed a darkness in the actor that had previously gone untapped, but it was with Los santos inocentes that he cemented his reputation as someone to be taken seriously - Landa shared the Best Actor prize at Cannes with his co-star Francisco Rabal (who gives an extraordinary performance). The film is an example of the cine de calidad (quality cinema) pushed by the then-Socialist government (a reaction to the already-stated perception that most of Spanish cinema didn't count as 'culture') - they were mainly fairly staid literary adaptations with high production qualities and low audience turnouts; the cine de calidad generally didn't tap into the audience desires of 1980s Spain (perhaps because so many of them harked back to Spain's past, which a lot of people were trying to forget), which were perhaps better served by the comedia madrileña and directors such as Fernando Trueba, Fernando Colomo, and of course Pedro Almodóvar. Based on the book by Miguel Delibes, Los santos inocentes is about a way of life, as the inhabitants of a rural estate (in the 1960s, if one can take the women's fashions as a marker) seem to be stuck in the servitude of the previous century and live in terrible poverty and squalor. Landa plays Paco, el bajo (Paco, the low - that is how he is referred to by other characters) who loyally serves his señorito Iván (Juan Diego) to the detriment of his own health. He is famed for his sense of smell, and in one sequence crawls on all fours sniffing out the game shot down by his master. Landa was atypical casting insofar as his performance took many by surprise (I would describe his performance as minimalistic, in sharp contrast to his usually ebullient manner in the comedies), but in some ways the film also taps into the rural associations created by his earlier roles (the flat cap is a continuity of iconography in Landa's image and career), an association that continues in films such as El bosque animado / [The Enchanted Forest] (José Luis Cuerda, 1987) and La marrana / The Sow (José Luis Cuerda, 1992).

Following a scent in Los santos inocentes
     So, back to El crack and Landa's professional association with director José Luis Garci. In total, they made seven films together: Las verdes praderas / The Green Meadows (1979); El crack (1981); the imaginatively-titled El crack 2 (1983); La canción de cuna / [Cradle Song] (1994); Historia de un beso / The Story of a Kiss (2002); Tiovivo c.1950 (2004); and Landa's last film, Luz de domingo / Sunday Light (2007). Las verdes praderas was Garci's third film and along with his first two (Asignatura pendiente / [Pending Subject] (1977) and Solos en la madrugada / [Alone in the Small Hours] (1978)) could be considered the tail end of what was known as the cine de la tercera vía (Third Way cinema), an attempt (engendered by producer José Luis Dibildos) to make films that engaged with the social change that was underway, in a form acceptable to the regime, but that were also commercially viable. They were aimed at the middle classes and those who felt that the Spanish comedies that were dominating the box office were somehow beneath them. Las verdes praderas is essentially about the middle-class hell of the responsibility of owning a weekend getaway in the countryside, as Landa's self-made man (prized by his ad-exec bosses for his 'common touch') finds it nigh on impossible to get any time to himself when he and his family visit their chalet for the weekend. It is as dull as that sounds, although Landa's innate likability makes you root for him - certainly his wife's (María Casanova) decision to 'liberate' them by torching the place at the end felt like the right decision (although I may have just been pleased that it signalled the end of the film). But there's enough 'supposed' comedy in the film for it to operate as a crossing over point for Landa.


      In El crack - widely considered one of the actor's best films and performances - Landa plays detective Germán Areta, looking for a missing girl and finding that he pushes a lot of noses out of joint as a result. When the powers that be decide that the best way to get him to back off is to mess with his de-facto family - his girlfriend (Casanova again) and her small daughter - he instead goes on full attack. The film has dated and although it aspires to noir status (it's dedicated to Dashiell Hammett) it doesn't quite pull it off - for all that Garci is acclaimed as an aficionado of classic cinema, it only ever feels like a copy rather than an original - but Landa is completely transformed; there is no lightness to his performance, and the heaviness of the burden his character carries is reflected in the seemingly infinite sadness in his eyes. I haven't seen the sequel (it doesn't appear to have ever had a DVD release), and aside from the Cuerda films mentioned above, the only other role of note that Landa had in the late-80s / early-90s was as Sancho Panza to Fernando Rey's Don Quijote (a genius casting pairing) in a luxurious TV series directed by Manuel Gutiérrez Aragón (I've watched one episode of the five parts so far - it is available on DVD with English subs - and am enjoying it immensely). I also haven't seen Canción de cuna, which brings us to the next Landa / Garci project, Historia de un beso, which along with El crack is the only one of the Garci films that I rate in any way. Told through the framing device of Julián (Carlos Hipólito) in 1949 returning to the village where he grew up for the funeral of his uncle (celebrated author Blas Otamendi (Landa)), the film concentrates on the events of 1925 and the parallel coming-of-age of the nephew and a late romance of the uncle. Blas is an outsider - an author better-known outside of Spain than within and unwilling to kowtow to the regime or the Church - but respected within his community and adored by his nephew. The film is sentimental but not in a sickly fashion, and both it and Landa have a twinkle in their eyes that allowed this viewer to pack away her cynicism for a couple of hours.

The trusty squire and the knight errant
     As I also haven't seen Tiovivo c.1950, that means that we have finally reached the purpose of this post: to discuss Alfredo Landa's last film. Should I take part in the Late Film Blogathon again, I will make my choice a little differently - namely by choosing a film of interest rather than simply a late film of someone I'm interested in. Because there's no way around it: Luz de domingo is a dud. It would be more enjoyable if it were out-and-out awful, but it's merely forgettably mediocre. Landa announced his retirement before the film was actually released and, although it's useless to speculate about such things, he doesn't really seem as if his heart was in it. I don't understand the critical acclaim that Garci has received and his films are generally an anathema to me - although accusations of wallowing in nostalgia are regularly levelled against him (and he proudly declares himself to not be a 'modern' filmmaker), he is usually described as a good director of actors and generally proficient on other fronts. And yet this is someone who won't use just one establishing shot when he can use five (usually to show how many extras are in the scene but in a way that fails to give a sense of spatial relations), regularly leaves shots to hang for a couple of seconds longer than required (is someone about to come through that closed door? No. Oh ok, then), and arbitrarily crosses the 180 degree line in the middle of a scene (and by arbitrarily, I mean that the change in camera position doesn't seem to reveal / signify anything beyond suggesting that the director changed his mind part way through filming the scene). All of which makes his filmmaking sound considerably more interesting than it actually is - the reason those things stick out is because of how pedestrian the rest of it is (as I said in my previous post, Tyne Tees' Catherine Cookson dramas were directed with more verve). It's fair to say that it wasn't my cup of tea, and in fact it (or more accurately, the scene outlined below) put me in a foul mood. [Warning: spoilers follow]

Simplistic symbolism 101: the red dress (the only time a colour that vivid is worn in the film) signals imminent danger in the form of the red motor car they are watching approach
    The film primarily concerns itself with the wrangling between two political factions in the small village of Cenciella in the early 1900s -one headed by the corrupt mayor, the other by one of the few landowners who doesn't bow down to him, Joaco (Landa). Into this mix comes outsider Urbano (Álex González), the new idealistic council secretary who promptly falls in love with Joaco's granddaughter, Estrella (Paula Echevarría). The newcomer wins over the grumpy older man with his sincerity. But when both men displease the mayor (Joaco by refusing to sell him some of his land, Urbano by refusing to let the mayor pass new taxation laws that are designed to bankrupt Joaco into submission), he decides that his only recourse is to hurt the person they have in common: Estrella. More or less out of the blue comes a gang rape sequence where the mayor sets his three wastrel sons on the young couple the weekend before their planned wedding: Urbano is tied to a tree and forced to watch (along with the audience) while his fiancee is brutalised by the three men and their servant. This is by no means Irreversible (Gaspar Noé, 2002), but for all of Noé's provocations, I find the brutal trauma of the attack on Alex (Monica Bellucci) in his film more honest in the style and execution of its filming than the 'artfully' composed and framed assault filmed by Garci. This scene seriously disrupts the world of the film - and it should do given the impact on the life of Estrella (who almost entirely disappears from the film after this point - the incident is never discussed in her presence and she barely utters another word), but it is not in keeping with the tone of the film up to this point. [One of the Spanish reviews argues that the scene divides the film in to two and that the second half is more like something directed by Michael Haneke, which feels wide of the mark to me but is an indication of the tonal rupture it causes]. The rest of the film feels unsettled but also strangely placid; Urbano marries Estrella as planned, they leave the village (it transpires that she's pregnant as a result of the rape) without recourse to the law, and Urbano refuses to let Joaco defend the honour of his granddaughter. The young man reaches for saintliness and is fairly uninteresting as a result. In fact the older generation provide most of the colour of the film, and it seems revealing that the young couple are rarely shown in conversation (their romance is communicated via a series of vapid smiles); the more interesting interactions transpire between people with 'pasts', whether the boarding house landlady from Seville and the much-travelled musician in love with Vienna, or the Uruguayan bar owner who shows Joaco a series of postcards detailing her life in New York (where Joaco has also previously lived). 

One of the more interesting pairings in the film
    The conversations with the bar owner are among the few sequences where the spark returns to Landa's eyes, and although he received top billing he doesn't dominate the film until right at the end when, with Urbano and Estrella packed off the New World, Urbano gives Joaco the all-clear to finally extract revenge for his granddaughter. Violence erupts once again (but too late for there to be a sense of catharsis) as Joaco shoots two of the mayor’s sons as they ride through the forest and then parades their corpses through town for the church congregation to witness. He shoots the remaining son and the mayor himself in a stand off as they exit the church, before being shot and killed himself by the guardia civil. There’s a certain poignancy to his dying onscreen in his last role, but I was left with more sadness that the opportunity to give him a memorable last appearance was frittered away. To a certain extent, at least in terms of the theme of vengeance, Joaco could be said to hark back to Landa’s performance in El crack (men who hurt the women his characters love meet a violent end at his hands in both films) but this echo really only serves to highlight that of the films he made with Garci, only El crack really endured as part of his star image or persona. The more personable and affable side to his persona was established at the start of his career (in films that are apparently subject to countless repeats on Sunday afternoon TV in Spain), and I would argue that despite his proving himself in ‘serious’ roles, it is those early comedies (possibly in conjunction with the TV sitcoms he appeared in the 1990s/2000s) that hold the key to the enduring affection with which he is regarded by Spanish audiences. He was awarded the Goya de honor the year following his retirement and ended his speech by saying that this was ‘adiós, y para siempre’ [goodbye, and for good] – he stuck to his word.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Coming Attraction: The Late Show


    The past couple of years I've enjoyed reading the various contributions to Shadowplay's annual Late Films Blogathon, but have been too disorganised to take part myself. This year, when I saw David Cairns's first callout, I thought "Right, get to it!" and had a think about what I could contribute. 
    The idea is to write about a film from late in a person's career - sometimes people go out with a bang, and sometimes with a whimper. It doesn't have to be a recent film, or someone who has recently died. But Spanish cinema has had many losses in 2013 (in a multitude of contexts), so I thought that I would focus on someone who had died in the past year. There are many big names on that roll call - producer Elías Querejeta, directors Bigas Luna and Jess Franco, the iconic Sara Montiel, for a start. I tend to write about actors more than directors, so I thought I'd write about an actor who is iconic in Spain, but little known abroad: Alfredo Landa. Unfortunately his last film, Luz de Domingo / Sunday Light (José Luis Garci, 2007), is a dud (Tyne Tees' Catherine Cookson dramas were directed with more verve) but I'm hoping to be able to link it back to his earlier films and come up with something interesting. My post will go up later in the week, but in the meantime keep an eye on Shadowplay as David Cairns will be linking to the various blogs taking part.


Alfredo Landa in his first screen role in the brilliant Atraco a las tres (José María Forqué, 1962)

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Guest Post: Michael Pattison - Notes on Some Spanish Films at the Seville European Film Festival

     Though their country’s economic plight worsens daily, Spanish filmmakers are beginning to assess and get to grips with a political climate that is, in the final analysis, antagonistic to artistic endeavour. While films ineluctably express the complex, contradictory tensions that characterise the social context in which they are made, the aim and hope is that any historical period finds its artistic match: those works that grasp the matter at hand, embrace the difficulties ahead, and refuse to evade the work to be done. To this end, there were a significant number of Spanish films at the tenth Seville European Film Festival (SEFF) whose general focus and political persuasion spoke of a palpable discontent with regard to the current state of things. Not every film will be politically charged, of course, and so it is to SEFF’s credit that it waded through what I presume to be a large swamp of mediocrity in order to present, by and large, the strong selection it finally offered. These works speak to the present precisely because they convey an understanding – to varying degrees – of how they relate to the unfolding historical moment.

Costa da morte / Coast of Death
     I have written elsewhere here and here   on Lois Patiño’s Costa da Morte, but some further remarks won’t go amiss (I first saw the film in Locarno in August, and again at the Viennale prior to my arrival in Seville). An essay film on the eponymous Galician coastline – named so because of its history of shipwrecks – Patiño’s debut feature frequently surveys its region from afar, zoomed-in so as to flatten its landscapes and thereby deny a more visually harmonious vantage point. There’s something unnatural about such optical choices: as humans, we cannot, after all, get a closer look at an object without telescopic aid or without physically moving to a closer proximity. Consequently, the film enables an unspoken but ongoing commentary on its own function: in denying itself and its audience a postcard-friendly view of the Coast of Death, it suggests a better understanding of these locales might come from a more idiosyncratic view. By flattening the landscape in such a way, Patiño’s film pits a multiplicity of histories against one another, privileging none and including all. Just as every landscape is the sum of its parts, so the present is the sum of its pasts. Note the plural: at no point in history has there been a moment without contradictions – the remnants of a bygone time, the formations of an era to come. 

El Futuro / The Future
     El Futuro takes an aesthetically different approach to history. Set in the immediate aftermath of Spain’s 1982 General Election – which was won by the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party – Luis López Carrasco’s debut feature confines itself to a house party attended by a group of increasingly inebriated twenty- and thirty-somethings hell-bent on indulging the post-Franco night away. When I saw the film at Locarno in August I couldn’t write the soundtrack list in its end credits down fast enough: this boasts an infectious selection of the Euro-synth and -punk of the period, and lends the narrative a real verve. There’s something futuristic about electronic music, of course, and yet ’80s synth – as well as other fashions from that decade – seems to have dated quicker than most. Likewise, the forward-thinking euphoria facilitated by a socialist party’s assumption of governmental responsibilities now seems a distant memory: López Carrasco’s ironically-named film is anything but optimistic, and the textured grain of his 16mm compositions reminds us at every turn of its own retrospection. Every smile, laugh and suggestion of a future appears as a ghost prohibited today by Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy’s enforced austerity.

El triste olor de la carne / The Sad Smell of Flesh
    Mariano Rajoy is a secondary character in El triste olor de la carne, the second feature by Cristóbal Arteaga Roza. Having his first state-of-the-nation address in February this year overheard in intermittent snippets here recalls Andrew Dominik’s similar employment of Barack Obama soundbites in Killing Them Softly (2012). Unlike that film, however, El triste olor de la carne has no time for allegory: a single-take trudge through Madrid’s urban sprawl, it takes one citizen’s financial loss to its logical, literal and inevitable (if no less powerful) conclusion. Said citizen is Alfredo (Alfredo Rodríguez), an uncanny cross between Boris Karloff and Peter Capaldi, his visibly fatigued face saying more than the character ever does, as he tries desperately to defer a meeting with the bailiffs who are coming to repossess his home.
     When a recession begins to affect the perfect image of a white middle-class nuclear family, you know you’re in trouble. Alfredo’s burnt-out businessman is a figure of belated if bewildered acceptance, and the only resistance he can summon rings, in the end, all too true. Though some critics might feel its persistent, unbroken take results in unnecessary bouts of dead time – such as when Alfredo is driving, or else travelling on a bus or in a taxi – this is precisely the film’s strength, lingering as it does on those unbearably long passages in which unthinkable stress drains a person’s life away. Indeed, the prospect of financial collapse is now too familiar a prospect for many Spanish people that contrived dramatics are no longer necessary.

Alegrías de Cádiz / Joys of Cádiz
     Not every Spanish film at SEFF felt like it was making a significant contribution to the battle. Gonzalo García Pelayo’s Alegrías de Cádiz returns its director to filmmaking after three decades in other fields, and feels very much the product of someone lacking practice. (For a serviceably flashy take on García Pelayo’s venture into professional gambling in the 1990s, see Eduard Cortés’s The Pelayos (2012)). Anyone familiar with the director’s work – pseudo-cerebral, flesh-heavy forays into the beauty of women, the joys of sex, monogamy as a socially conditioned and therefore unnatural state, and so on – will not be surprised to hear this is a heavily indulgent work. Not without its lively moments, the film is an uneasy blend of a meta-comedy about a ménage-à-trois and a sincere essay film on Cádiz. As such, it keeps itself busy for its two-hour running time, but García Pelayo’s implication-cum-assertion, that the most interesting thing about a city is its women, seems like a perverted joke.

10.000 noches en ninguna parte / 10,000 Nights Nowhere
     Other films disappointed. 10.000 noches en ninguna parte, by Malaga-born writer-director Ramón Salazar, is a centrifugal triptych on themes of loss and – of course – love. Wide-eyed Andrés Gertrúdix plays the same character thrice, living in parallel dimensions: with a bohemian trio in Berlin, with a childhood love in Paris, and with his alcoholic mother in what I presumed to be Spain. A dull, cold visual palette – with shallow-focus camerawork – gives the film a terminally malaised look, and though a certain whimsicality forces its earlier passages along, the employment of Arvo Pärt’s overused ‘Fratres’ reveals an essentially juvenile sensibility at work. Indeed, at a certain point during the film I wrote in my notebook: these people don’t live in the same world as me – the real world, with financial pressures etc

Los chicos del puerto / The Kids from the Port
     Nor do the protagonists of Los chicos del puerto, by Alberto Morais. The film’s eponymous port is that of Valencia, and its kids are Miguel, Lola and Guillermo, three pre-teens who embark upon the ostensibly simple trek to a cemetery, to place an army jacket on the grave of the recently deceased friend of Miguel’s grandfather. The pilgrimage of course turns out to be more arduous than first assumed. The friends underestimate their bus fare; they journey to the wrong cemetery; they become lost; they grow hungry; they go broke. That one-note tone of dramatic seriousness – more familiar to French productions than to Spanish – sets in quickly: characters act not how people do, but for a desired symbolism, one which over the course of even a slim 78 minutes drains all would-be energy. Programme notes mention “sparse dialogue and a formal Bressonian minimalism”, but the invariably stilted interactions here are part of a wider filmmaking trend that may very well be indebted to Bresson but which provides too little social commentary to justify the comparison. Too many filmmakers seem to mistake this sullen, ploddingly mopey register for mysteriousness, for ambiguity, for poetry or for purity – or for any other apparently desirable trait.
     All the more refreshing, then, to watch more upbeat films like El Rayo, Un ramo de cactus and Las aventuras de Lily ojos de gato. The first of these, directed by Fran Araúgo and Ernesto de Nova, screened in SEFF’s ‘Andalusian Panorama’ section following a world-premiere at San Sebastian, and sees a defiantly high-spirited itinerant labourer trekking across Spain back to Morocco on a tractor. The second, which received its world-premiere at SEFF as part of the festival’s inaugural ‘Resistances’ strand, is a pleasing if sometimes technically amateurish comedy by Pablo Llorca, featuring a deceptively masterful central performance from Seville-born Pedro Casablanc, who has in recent years been ubiquitous on Spanish television. Casablanc’s deadpan style and pockmarked face recall Bill Murray, and his turn in Llorca’s film – as a fiftyish farmer at odds with his family’s acceptingly money-oriented ways – deserves much wider recognition. In contrast to a film like Los chicos del puerto, both Un ramo de cactus and El Rayo demonstrate that a serious film need not be glum.

Las aventuras de Lily ojos de gato / The Adventures of Lily Cat Eyes
     Las aventuras, meanwhile, is a night-in-the-life-of tale centring heavily on inebriation as a means to forget. Working as a PR for a bar in Madrid, Lily (Ana Adams) meets a bleary-eyed customer with whom, after hours, she solemnly swears to drink till she hits the ground – and perhaps would if real-life events didn’t get in the way. To be sure, Lily is drinking away the hurt of a break-up, but her temporary escape is frustrated by more pressing matters: a friend’s pregnancy, her new pal’s paralytic state, an abusive employer, and so on. A more systemic understanding of things might be beyond Boix and his film; I would have preferred a less cartoonishly cruel boss, for instance. And though these are palpably more universal features with which to pepper a story – as opposed to the characteristics of the Galician landscape, or the political fate of Spain – the film nevertheless has an undeniable strength, in taking an otherwise insufferable young drunk and accounting for her self-destructive behaviour in a non-evasive way. Played by British actress Adams – who speaks Spanish fluently – Lily has a rugged, get-on-with-it edge, which makes her charming even when she’s actively derailing a blues performer’s final song in a late-night bar.


Michael Pattison is a freelance film critic based in Gateshead, UK. He blogs at idFilm and Tweets @m_pattison.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Tangled Ideas, part 2


So, having rewatched Biutiful, and started to do a close reading of a couple of sequences of Los lunes al sol, I have come to some conclusions in relation to the points I raised in my previous post on the subject.

  1. I can no longer see whatever it was in Biutiful that so strongly pushed me towards Los lunes al sol (or only at a very superficial level - Bardem's performance in the later film is in many ways a physical reversal of what he did in the earlier one). This is more than a little irritating.
  2. Given the length of what I want to write, I think I have two separate ideas - one that relates to how Bardem's performance style and star image coalesce (and reinforce one another), and one that is about how Bardem's presence in a film shapes Spanish critical reception of that film. There is an overlap between the two things, centring around the issue of genre, but I think they can be separated out. Hopefully.
  3. My intention is to start with the first idea - mainly focussing on Los lunes al sol but also bringing in Biutiful (and some of his other films - yet to be decided). But I need to come up with a central 'hook'.
  4. I find the issues raised by the second idea intriguing, but I don't currently want to be looking at the reception side of things - I need to focus on the films themselves for a while. So this may be something I come back to, but in a smaller way.
  5. I'm going to have a think about how I would word an abstract for the first idea, to see if that can focus my argument.
  6. I have been working on a close reading of Los lunes al sol's longest sequence - the seven-minute-long argument in the bar - which I may work into an 'Anatomy of a Scene' post as a way of getting started with thinking specifically about his performance.

In addition to that, I am also starting to research a more general piece about Spanish stardom (covering a broader period than I have previously investigated) - as I start to watch films for that, they'll appear as 'random viewing' posts, but otherwise the blog will be pretty quiet as I try to get to grips with these two 'projects'.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Open Your Eyes

Abre los ojos (Alejandro Amenábar, 1997)

Vanilla Sky (Cameron Crowe, 2001)

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Tangled Ideas


    You develop a funny attachment to films that feature in your thesis. Not all of them (there are a few that you'd have to pay me to watch again), but I think certainly the ones that find themselves woven into the central fabric of your central argument; you are infinitely aware of their defects and flaws (you've pored over their minutiae for months, taking them apart and holding them up to the light), but you bristle slightly if someone else points them out. But once you've submitted, the idea of revisiting one of those films (for enjoyment!) doesn't appeal; it's difficult to view those films from any other perspective than the one through which you wrote about them in such detail. But this is where the funny attachment comes in for me because there are some that I nonetheless regard with what can only be described as affection, of which Los lunes al sol is one. There is something about the film that moves me no matter how many times I watch it, or how I've dissected it in the past: it is a film about solidarity, loyalty, about people being stronger together, and about how friendship can keep you afloat in the worst of times. Much of this centres on Bardem's character, Santa, the pillar of a group of friends laid low by unemployment. If I were told that I could only watch one Bardem performance again, this is the one I would choose; in part because it is a perfect encapsulation of what 'Javier Bardem' and his star image mean within Spanish cinema, but also because I personally think that he has yet to better this performance.
     But I thought that I was 'done' with the film in terms of writing about it. Then in September 2011 I watched Biutiful and throughout the film Los lunes al sol kept tugging at my consciousness. A week or so later I watched León de Aranoa's film for the first time in at least two years. But you can see from this post that I couldn't quite articulate what it was that kept snagging in my brain, other than it centred on Bardem's performance (try not to laugh at my hugely optimistic assertion that I would write about the two films together within the next month - although, that said, I have found what I initially started writing in 2011; more than 3000 words, all of them about Los lunes al sol) and the feeling that Biutiful was a turning-inside-out of his earlier performance. And then life got in the way. I wrote a few of New Year's resolutions at the start of 2013 and one of them was 'Write the Bardem Los lunes/Biutiful article'. My attempts to restart my research focussed on my conference paper in the first half of the year, but it finally seems like time to actually get on with the bloody thing. So I rewatched Los lunes al sol this past weekend (I'd actually forgotten that I'd watched it in 2011 - I thought it was four years since I'd seen it) with fresh eyes and a sense of relief that this 'old friend' had not changed beyond recognition. I'll now have to rewatch Biutiful as well, but one step at a time.
    Performance is still at the centre of what I want to pick apart between the two films but in combination with the issue of genre and the associations that Bardem brings with him. I'm not sure whether I've got two ideas fighting each other, or just one that I've not properly untangled yet. 
    My intention is to look at the associations that Bardem's presence generates (at least in Spain) particularly in relation to cine social, before moving on to his performances in the two films, alongside criticism of the films that specifically relates to genre and their treatment of social issues. I think that Los lunes al sol addresses its themes, and wears its social conscience, with greater skill than Biutiful, but also better utilises Bardem and certain elements of his star image. It's not that there are obvious similarities between the films (they are quite different in terms of both visual style and their treatment of their respective subjects) but rather that Bardem's character and performance in the latter strongly reminded me of the earlier film because of the way that the performance seems (to me) to be a turning-inside-out of the earlier one. I don't think that Biutiful is cine social by any straightforward definition (but is genre ever clear cut? Los lunes al sol could be viewed as containing elements of melodrama as well) - but what is interesting is how it has been shoehorned into that genre by certain critics (particularly in Spain), and then judged as having failed to meet 'the standard' (again, particularly in Spain - both films have received their share of scathing critical commentary*). I think that this shoehorning is partly because of the associations that Javier Bardem brings with him for a range of reasons, but namely his style of acting (which is where the performance/genre overlap comes in).
    What I may do initially is use the blog to write about his performance in each film, so as to ground myself in them and to clarify what I'm grasping for by actually having to put what I think he does through his performances into written words. And then I'll have to do battle with genre and sort out my argument. But I think that if this nugget of an idea has stuck with me for two years while I've flailed around doing other things, then I should probably follow it. I'm putting all of this up here so as to hold myself to it because I find it far too easy to carry around ideas in my notebook without attempting to develop them - so feel free to give me a nudge if nothing appears on here in the next month!



*One of my favourite 'takedowns' of Los lunes al sol comes from Fecé and Pujol, who describe the film as ‘bienintencionada […] aunque conviertan el paro y la lucha de clases en una hipotética canción de Eurovisión cantada en esperanto: Si todos los parados del mundo caminasen cogidos de la mano’ ['well-intentioned [...] although they convert unemployment and the class war into a hypothetical Eurovision song sung in esperanto: if all the unemployed of the world could walk along hand in hand'] (2003: 161-162) - which is cutting but nonetheless makes me chuckle every time I read it. Biutiful's scathing commentary is more wince-inducing than funny (I think I tweeted some of my favourites when I watched it).

Thursday, 5 September 2013

New Book - A History of Spanish Film: Cinema and Society 1910-2010




Faulkner, S. (2013) - A History of Spanish Film: Cinema and Society 1910-2010, London: Bloomsbury. ISBN: 9780826416674

    This book uses the concept of Spanish middlebrow cinema to explore the representation of class and social mobility across a century of Spanish cinema: 'A History of Spanish Film explores, first, the cinema's representation of upwardly and downwardly mobile groups on-screen, and places this representation, second, alongside class realignments in Spanish society off-screen' (p.1). As Faulkner points out in her introduction, by examining Spanish cinema decade-by-decade rather than the traditional narrative of 'key dates' approach (often centring on whether a film is pre- or post-1975), she manages to uncover continuities at the beginning and end of the 1970s. But by focussing on 'an original terrain that was in-between previous "art" and "popular" alternatives' she also traces the 'middlebrow' through Spanish cinema from the 1970s onwards, arguing for the presence of a greater consistency and continuity in the Spanish cinematic output than is usually taken to be the case.
    The close textual analysis in combination with a nuanced reading of production, reception and changes in taste in Spain gives new insights into a range of films, including those that have already had acres written about them. From a personal perspective, the section on Los lunes al sol, which I'm intending to write about in relation to Javier Bardem's performance style, has given me much food for thought not least because it offers a more positive interpretation of its fusing of social realism and melodrama (much decried by the likes of Ángel Quintana and others) and has pointed me in the direction of other useful sources on the film as well. I'm also planning to track down some of the films that I haven't seen. A really interesting read.
As usual, I'm listing the table of contents below - I've listed the films English title first because that's how it's done in the book (I usually put the Spanish title first).

Introduction: Cinema and Society 1910-2010
1. Questions of Class and Questions of Art in Early Cinema
  • Blood and Sand (Sangre y arena -André and Ibáñez, 1916)
  • Don Juan Tenorio (de Baños, 1922)
  • The Grandfather (El abuelo -Buchs, 1925)
  • The Mystery of the Puerta del Sol (El misterio de la Puerta del Sol - Elías, 1929)
  • The Cursed Village (La aldea maldita -Rey, 1930)
  • The Fair of the Dove (La verbena de la paloma -Perojo, 1935)

2. Social Mobility and Cinema of the 1940s and 1950s: Consolation and Condemnation
  • The Nail (El clavo -Gil, 1944)
  • She, He and His Millions (Ella, él y sus millones -Orduña, 1944)
  • From Woman to Woman (De mujer a mujer -Lucia, 1950)
  • Furrows (Surcos -Nieves Conde, 1951)
  • That Happy Couple (Esa pareja feliz -Bardem and Berlanga, 1951)
  • Main Street (Calle mayor -Bardem, 1956)

3. Charting Upward Social Mobility: 1960s Films about the Middle Classes and the Middlebrow
  • Plácido (Berlanga, 1961)
  • Life Goes On (El mundo sigue -Fernán Gómez, 1963)
  • Summer Night (Noche de verano -Grau, 1962)
  • The Happy Sixties (Los felices sesenta -Camino, 1963)
  • City Life is not for Me (La cuidad no es para mí -Lazaga, 1966)
  • Marisol's Four Weddings (Las cuatro bodas de Marisol -Lucia, 1967)

4. The 'Third Way' and the Spanish Middlebrow Film in the 1970s
  • Tristana (Buñuel, 1970)
  • Tormento (Olea, 1974)
  • Spaniards in Paris (Españolas en París -Bodegas, 1971)
  • My Dearest Señorita (Mi Querida Señorita -Armiñán, 1972)
  • Unfinished Business (Asignatura pendiente -Garci, 1977)
  • Daddy's War (La guerra de papá -Mercero, 1977)

5. Miró Films and Middlebrow Cinema in the 1980s
  • First Work (Ópera prima -Trueba, 1980)
  • Blood Wedding (Bodas de sangre -Saura, 1981)
  • The Beehive (La colmena -Camus, 1982)
  • Diamond Square (La plaza del diamante -Betriu, 1982)
  • Mambrú Went to War (Mambrú se fue a la guerra -Fernán Gómez, 1986)
  • Half of Heaven (La mitad del cielo -Gutiérrez Aragón, 1986)

6. Middlebrow Cinema of the 1990s: From Miró to Cine social
  • The Dumbfounded King (El rey pasmado -Uribe, 1991)
  • The Flower of My Secret (La flor de mi secreto -Almodóvar, 1995)
  • The Dog in the Manger (El perro del hortelano -Miró, 1996)
  • The Grandfather (El abuelo -Garci, 1998)
  • A Time for Defiance (La hora de los valientes -Mercero, 1998)
  • Alone (Solas -Zambrano, 1999)

7. From Cine social to Heritage Cinema in Films of the 2000s
  • Mondays in the Sun (Los lunes al sol -León de Aranoa, 2002)
  • Take My Eyes (Te doy mis ojos -Bollaín, 2003)
  • Carol's Journey (El viaje de Carol -Uribe, 2002)
  • Soldiers of Salamina (Los soldados de Salamina -Trueba, 2003)
  • Alatriste (Díaz Yanes, 2006)
  • Lope (Waddington, 2010)


I will add the book to part 1 of the book list.

I've been building up quite a stockpile of books on Spanish cinema recently, partly because there have been an unusually high number published this year, but also because I'm trying to expand my knowledge (concentrated on 1992 onwards) backwards to encompass the 1980s and 1970s. The more-recently published books on my 'to be read' pile include:

Delgado, M.M. and R. Fiddian (ed.s) (2013) - Spanish Cinema 1973-2010: Auteurism, politics, landscape and memory, Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Maurer Queipo, I. (ed) (2013) - Directory of World Cinema: Latin America, Bristol: Intellect Press.
Palacio, M. (ed) (2011) - El cine y la transición política en España 1975-1982, Madrid: Editorial Biblioteca Nueva, S.L.
Huerta Floriano, M.Á. and E. Pérez Morán (ed.s) (2012) - El "cine de barrio" tardofranquista: Reflejo de una sociedad, Madrid: Editorial Biblioteca Nueva, S.L.
Aguilar, J. (2012) - Las estrellas del destape y la transición: El cine español se desnuda, Madrid: T&B Editores.
Benet, V.J. (2012) - El cine español: Una historia cultural, Barcelona: Paidós.

Expect some of those to feature on here at some point in the future.