Monday, 17 November 2014

Esto no es un juego: The serious mayhem of Álex de la Iglesia

A devilish communication in El día de la bestia
   The Leeds International Film Festival 2014 has two Spanish cinema retrospectives. The first to get underway was the Berlanga and Bardem one, but this past weekend the Álex de la Iglesia retrospective began with El día de la bestia (my favourite of his films) screening to coincide with the Fanomenon Day of the Dead 8.
   Apart from El día de la bestia (1995), the retrospective is skewed towards de la Iglesia's more recent films. It's a shame that La comunidad / Common Wealth (2000) wasn't included, not least because it features Carmen Maura on top form, but the four films together capture various facets of the director's career. I have something of a mixed relationship with his films - I enjoy the dark humour, excessive mayhem, and cinematic brio, but find many of the representations of women problematic. Balada triste de trompeta is a case in point and the film manages to be both hypnotic and deeply unsettling at the same time. I think it's his most interesting film so far - if you've got the stomach for it (it's probably also his most violent film, which is saying something), it's well worth catching. I'm reviewing all four films for Take One (with an additional review of El día de la bestia for Eye for Film) and will add the links below as and when the reviews appear online.