WASP NETWORK (2019)

A film by Olivier Assayas

Cast:  Ana de Armas, Penélope Cruz, Wagner Moura

Beginning of the 90’s. A group of Cubans living in Miami set up a spy network. Their mission: to infiltrate the anti-Castro groups responsible for attacks on the island.

Rene Gonzalez (Edgar Ramirez) seems to have a perfect life. His wife Olga (Penélope Cruz) is beautiful, they have a young daughter and he flies planes. But one day he decided to take off and fly under the radar and over the short stretch of sea to Miami. In a televised press conference he tells them the frustration about the Castro regime and announces his intention to stay in the US, after all he is an American citizen who just left his wife and kids to Cuba and he is being accused of being a traitor. Juan Pablo (Wagner Moura) soon joins him too. Both René and Juan become pilots for the CANF (Cuban American National Foundation) to assist defecting Cubans and hasten the collapse of Castro’s regime. Both infiltrate CANF, rising up the ranks, with Juan Pablo graduating to a lavish lifestyle. Assayas, while filming Wasp Network, was given the rare opportunity to film in Cuba. The over shot of Cuba by plane was a rare sight on film and the most vibrant. As the story unravels the mystery behind René and Juan Pablo, other characters are introduced and historical figures, such as the terrorist Luis Posada Carriles (Tony Plano) and Gerardo Hernandez (Gael García Bernal), director of Wasp Network. As the story goes along it is going to be a little confusing at times. The story has its twist and turns. It is film in an unconventional way and it fells that it is going all over the place. It is watchable and entertaining but it is missing something unfortunately. And to think this was going on in the 90’s.

PAIN AND GLORY (2019)

A film by  Pedro Almodóvar

Cast:  Penélope Cruz, Antonio Banderas, Leonardo Sbaraglia 

The film is presented in competition at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. A series of reunions after several decades, of the life from a director in pain. First loves, the mother, the death, actors with whom he worked, the 60s, the 80s and the present. The impossibility of separating creation and private life. And an emptiness, the unfathomable emptiness in the face of the inability to continue to make films.

Almodovar signs his most personal work with this new film perfectly mastered that follows the depressive wanderings of a filmmaker at the time of the assessment. The pain and the health problems that he has and the inability to make an other film. It is an autobiographical story of Almodóvar . Salvador is a director who has not done anything for several years, He has too much pain in his body. When the Spanish film library has one of its greatest successes digitally remastered , Salvador decided to be there for Q&A after the showing of the film with the main actor which they have not seen each other for 30 years. Salvator as he narrates at the beginning of the film all the pain in his body that he has for years now. Banderas here does not imitated the director but ad his own brand of acting. The flashback are there when Salvator was a kid and Penelope Cruz plays his mother. A director who is tormented by the pain he has in his body, the prescribe drugs that is no longer working and the dead end that he has not being able to make an other film. There are not much films of Almodóvar that I do not like here is a director who has a great career. Hopefully he will win his first Palme d’Or.

EL REINO (2019)

A film by  Rodrigo Sorogoyen

Cast: Antonio de la Torre, Mónica López, Josep Maria Pou 

English title: The realm

Manuel López-Vidal is an influential politician in his region. While he must enter the national leadership of his party, he finds himself involved in a corruption case that threatens one of his closest friends. Trapped, he sees in career going to hell…..

Here is an awesome political thriller from Spain with high caliber actors with a fast ride to hell. Regional vice-secretary Manuel Lopez Vidal (de la Torre) devised an illegal system to fill his pockets fast, as well as his friends, but is unmasked when his close friend, Paco (Nacho Fresneda) is accused of corruption. A recorded conversation has leaked out into the media Suddenly, Manuel ‘s life is turned upside down by a thorough investigation that can send him to jail. Manuel is trying to keep a float and his family safe. One of his friends even told him to keep quiet and do nothing to see if this his going to blow over, He does not listen and makes sure that everyone is not going to talk. Well here is a fast past thriller of this political man and his corrupted friends who are going to turn on each other. A beautiful ending here like I said with terrific actors who plays the part very well. Let me tell you something do not miss this one. The game that politician plays and the corruption that goes with it which brings me that they will stop at nothing . Here is a well-crafted scenario with great dialogue.

CHAMPIONS (2018)

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A film by Javier Fesser

Cast: Javier GutiérrezAthenea MataJuan Margallo 

Marco holds the prestigious position of assistant coach of the professional Spanish basketball team. But his bad attitude is a problem. After a series of bad luck for which he is the only one responsible, Marco gets let go and find himself doing community work forced to work with a team of mentally disabled basketball players.

Here is a film that made it in France because the comedies from Fesser does not make it in France but this one did even in Spain at the box office it exploded big time. It is the feel good movie where you are going to have a good time laughing and it is going to be easy to watch. Here is an assistant coach that is fed up with the coach on how to run the team gets let go the next day so the next thing he does is to get drunk at the bar and to finds himself at the wheel where he is going to get in trouble with the police. So a judge gives him community service for a month. He finds out he has to teach a bunch of slow people basketball. And yes somewhere in there, there is a championship to win.

Nice little comedy here where a bunch of slow players are going to get the challenge to play basketball and where Marco is going to have a serious challenge in teaching them but guess what they will learn from each other. Marco here is trying to reconciled with his wife and jungle teaching those players. You will digest this film well. It is a no brainer here just have a good time watching it.

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THE MAN WHO KILLED DON QUIXOTE (2018)

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A film by Terry Gilliam

Cast: Adam DriverJonathan PryceStellan Skarsgård

Toby (Adam Driver) who is a commercial director who shoot a vodka commercial that utilises the figure of Don Quixote . One night, he finds someone selling a bootleg DVD of his thesis film from ten years ago, itself a Quixote adaptation he shot with some friends and nonprofessional actors at a local village. To get inspired he tries to reconnect with the past by going to the village where he shot his thesis film and may the adventure begin…..

Orson Welles has tried to make this film but the director has died before he could finish it and it took 30 years by the way. Here Gillian tries to make his own film which took 30 years or so in the making, he had truly had a hard time to get the project done. I kind of love it feeling what the hell was this made a lot sooner. Here Toby embarks in the village hoping to reconnect with his youth. He finds that some of the non professional actors that was in his film some had great luck others not. But soon after that he meets the man who played Don Quixote the aging shoemaker Jonathan Pryce who thinks he is Don Quixote. Toby will embark then is this strange adventure in the wild west of Spain. Here you are going to feel lost in the film but Gillian wants you to be. The energy of Gillian here is infectious. The plot is not linear it is going to be going every which way. Not too worry you are going to have a good time. It is presented like a kaleidoscope fable. What I like about it it is going to go in a loop. You’ll know what I mean when you see the film. Here is one for you the actor Jonathan Pryce after the film was done was suppose to go to Cannes but he suddenly had a stroke. Some say it is a curse. Maybe maybe not.

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EVERYBODY KNOWS (2018)

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A film by Asghar Farhadi

Cast: Penélope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Jaime Lorente

Carolina (Penélope Cruz) and her Argentinean  husband with their children comes back to her hometown Madrid for a wedding. During the wedding unexpected events takes place that will reveal secrets to the open.

This film is the open film at the Cannes Film Festival, ok then good move but….. Here is the most looked at director who is the most creative of them all, with the Separation his masterpiece, and the client where he shines now he does a film in Madrid and it fall apart. As soon as the film started a quarter of it into it I knew where this was going and who did it and i do hate that from the most creative director. He needs to get back on the horse soon.The disappointment of his latest opus must take into account that Farhadi had never made any mistakes so far, until now.  Let’s first dispel any misunderstanding: the transposition in Spain of an initial material intended to be shot in Iran is not, a priori, a problem in itself. Farhadi had proved that he knew how to find his bearings in a shoot abroad, with actors of a language that is not his own.  Le Passé, made in France, allowed to find his style. However shot in Madrid everything falls apart. I am not saying that the film is not good it is watchable and it has a great cast with some great performances. Because of that Everybody Knows deserves the attention.

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MARROWBONE (2018)

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A film by Sergio G. Sánchez

Cast: George MacKay, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton

A Spanish film , Marrowbone tells the story of the Fairbairn family, a mother and her four children on the run to the States. They are running from their father. Holing up in a secluded mansion called Marrowbone in 1969, the family takes the estate’s name as their own, pledging to bury the past forever. But…..

Here is a story of a family who are afraid of their life and trying to get away from their father as far as possible. Now in America trying to turn the page and start fresh the mother who is finally happy with her kids falls ill and die not long after they got there. The oldest Jack (George MacKay) promised to keep the rest of the clan safe until he is 21 years of age otherwise the bank will take the house and social services will separate them and put them in fosters families.. 20 old Jack (George MacKay), 19-year-old Jane (Mia Goth), 18-year-old Billy (Charlie Heaton), and five-year-old Sam (Matthew Stagg) try to keep going after Rose passes away, maintaining a low profile in their large rundown mansion , with only a close friendship with the neighboring girl, Allie (Anya Taylor-Joy) .

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Jack does his best to keep the family together until the inevitable happens. There is a twist in the dynamics of the story that will be revealed towards the end.  Jack here is worried about the entity that is in the house and keep mirrors covered to keep it put. It is a slow burner story but interesting enough to keep you interested. The talented cast delivers a terrific performance in this off beat family horror film. The only beef I have with it once the twist is revealed it is going to be predictable. Other wise not too bad at all. It is kind deja vu meaning it looks like I have already seen this film somewhere.

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