Spanish film

EL CIUDADANO ILUSTRE (2017)

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A film by Gastón Duprat, Mariano Cohn

Cast: Oscar Martínez, Dady Brieva, Andrea Frigerio

English title:The Distinguished Citizen

Daniel Mantovani (Oscar Martinez) is a celebrated Nobel Prize-winning author living in Barcelona. His stories set in Salas Argentina but he has not return in 40 years is a matter a fact he never planed to go back. To the surprise of everyone he agrees to personally collect a trophy/reward as a ‘distinguished citizen’ and maybe rediscover his roots. It is a decision he is going to regret as the driver that pick up gets a flat tire in a middle of nowhere.

The local welcome him and the mayor boost his image because he is with a successful writer although who has not written a novel in 5 years. The Mayor has all the activities in place even the interview and the workshop with Mantovani which also include a painting competition. Meanwhile, his old friend Antonio brilliantly played by Dady Brieva who delights in seeing his friend so he can show off the fact that he married Mantovani’s old girl friends. Well thing s are not going to go to well if you know what I mean. As the film goes on you are going to feel that Mantovani is in danger and that he might or might not make it out of this town in one piece. The film is a bit predictable here but it is a well done and written dark farce.

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A MONSTER CALL (2016)

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A film by J.A. Bayona

Cast: Lewis MacDougall, Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones

A young boy, while going through the terrible experience of watching his mother fighting for her life with  cancer, calls out for help. Unexpectedly, his help comes from a tree monster, who despite his scary appearance proves to be a source of help for Conor.

Conor’s mom is slowly losing her battle with cancer she sis at the end of the rope. During the day, he has to put up with constant bullying and ridicule from his schoolmates who have no idea what he is going through. Conor also knows that if his mom passes on, he will have to live with his grandmother but Conor does not want to after all she is this cold and bossy woman .Unknown to him, a tree monster has been listening to him cry out every night. The scary monster here is going to make understand to the boy what is going on with him with 3 stories that he is going to tell him but the 4th story the boy is going to tell the tree monster. Of course the boy does not understand and thinks that the tree monster is going to save his mom but there is more than meets the eye here. Here is a different story with this message at the end. By the way the end is perfect. Great film to go see with your kid 11 and over at least.

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TRUMAN (2016)

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A film by Cesc Gay

Cast: Ricardo Darín, Javier Cámara, Dolores Fonzi

Julian ( Ricardo Darín) receives an unexpected visit from his friend Tomás (Javier Cámara) who lives in Canada.The two men, accompanied by Julián’s faithful dog, Truman, will embark in an emotional and surprising moments.

Here is a kind of different road trip that 2 men are going to take. From the beginning Julian receive a surprising visit from his friend that he has not seen in years. He has only 4 days before he has to return to Canada. After all they are best friend. Julian has a dog name Truman and wants to find an other owner for Truman. The film is a nice touching story about 2 best friends and dog and Julian’s son who is trying to reconnect with. It is a farewell who is leaving. Julian is a theater actor and as his says “My run is almost over”. The thing is that Julian who is the loner is having a hard time finding a new owner for his dog. Darin’s touching performance as a man barely holding it together but refusing to show any external weakness. Gay has masterful eye for eye when it comes to capturing the essence of a friendship and Cámara and Darin have a natural ease with each other that sells the situation. The film is well paced , consistently engaging them to various locations like the Netherland and what a beautiful country it is. And no there is no cinematic cliché here thank god, it is a humanist drama kind like a last adventure between friends.

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JULIETA (2016)

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A film by Pedro Almodóvar

Cast: Adriana Ugarte, Rossy de Palma, Inma Cuesta, Emma Suarez

As she is about to move and go to live in Portugal with Lorenzo, the man she loves, Julieta crosses a street in Madrid, Bea, an old friend of Antía, her daughter, she has not seen for years. She decided to stay in Madrid, and moved in the same building where she once lived. The memories come back as far as  the regrets, as she sets out again in search for….

Julieta is of these beautiful and deeply moving films and  Pedro Almodóvar has the secret. The film portrait a several women gravitating around a single mother who was once a girl. This film is a drama incandescent  where feelings about their life resonate with infinite regret, and has an inability to communicate with loved ones. With flashbacks the director tells a tale of romance passion (the meeting on the train, the man with the black sweater, the tattoo …AJ ) or misleading sincere friendships, jealousies and secret intimate dramas. Each scene has a color of importance, a meaning and a beautiful elegance to it. Emma Suarez shines here and has deliver the role of a life time, she is brilliant as well as well casted. Mother tormented and tenacious, she tells her story here often in voiceover full of doubts and certainties, according to the times of her life. A bitter and bright film that breaks your heart, that ask the question do we have the ability to forgive.

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A PERFECT DAY (2016)

A perfect day

A film by Fernando León de Aranoa

Cast: Benicio Del Toro, Tim Robbins, Olga Kurylenko, Mélanie Thierry

The film is set in the Balkans in 1995. Four humanitarian aid workers are confronted with a little problem. They are trying to get a dead body out of the well. You see it is going to contamited the well and the people of this little village are going to be without water if they do not get the body out… but UN rules expressly forbid aid workers from handling corpses. Mambrú (Benicio Del Toro) who failed to retrieve the body due to the fact that the rope broke is going to go on an adventure with B (Tim Robbins) to get rope.

Now you are going to say this is going to be boring, not so this is a small story with unfairnesses and injustices,  one subplot involves a local boy’s search for a new soccer ball that is immediately stolen by big kid bullies. Plus here is a  wonderful cast that infuses their frustrations to make things right. Yes they will be mines on the way, the bureaucracy that they are to deal with, the complicated relationships. Although their journey they will be joking around of course with dark humor. Well if you were on of them in order no to go crazy after the frustration that they have to find rope and deal with the people they will need some comic relief. Spanish filmmaker Fernando León de Aranoa who adapted the novel by Paula Farias has made a smart little satire, one that is satisfying in how it paints war itself as ridiculous.

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LA NIÑA DE FUEGO (2014)

La niña de fuego (2014)

A film by Carlos Vermut

Cast: José Sacristán, Marina Andruix, Raimundo de los Reyes

Luis (Luis Bermejo) is an average guy. The unemployed teacher is a single parent with one daughter, Alicia (Lucía Pollán), who is sick. His daughter has one wish to have the dress made by a designer worn by her favorite comic book hero. Unfortunately the dress cost 7000€. In order to fulfill her last wish Luis  will meet a disturbed girl and a retired professor.

Here Vermut does not present a traditional narrative instead it is structure like a puzzle. That is why you see this old man who will come into play later in the story putting a puzzle together. Here is what I love this film it is a slow-paced thriller where the tension is build up slowly. As the story goes along Vermut reveal what he want to reveal the rest it is up to the imagination of the audience. Brilliant!!! Period. There is a dark sense of humor in this story that goes throughout the story like the one were Luis has to raise the fund for the dress. Because the love for his daughter Luis will cross the line into a world he won’t get out of and quite possible dangerous. There is an introduction of a diabolic man who will turn the tables around.

Mark my words put this one on you list. Here is an other great Neo-Noir from Spain. May I stressed do not miss this one. You are going to need a beer after this one.

La niña de fuego (2014)

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Marshland (2014)

Marshland (2014)

A film by Alberto Rodríguez

Cast: Javier Gutiérrez, Raúl Arévalo, María Varod

Juan (Javier Gutierrez) and Pedro (Raul Arevalo) are two experienced homicide detectives from Madrid with different styles and methods. They work together to find two teenage girls who disappear during the annual festivities in Spain’s deep south in 1980. Two detective has to their best to put aside their differences in order to find the girls, but there are a bunch of labourers on strike, plus the drug traffic that is going on to top it all off secrets surfaces about one of the detectives.

Winner of 10 Goya Awards ( it is theirs oscars) , a murder mystery thriller set in the marshlands of Andalucia has plenty of intriguing mystery and puzzle that falls into place including some, outstanding cinematography in which I would recommend this film Neo-Noir so put this one on your list.

Immediately you are drawn into the characters and the  beautiful but grippy landscape. The event is about to bring two detective from Madrid to find the 2 missing girls. There is tense relationship between the 2 detective here Juan (Javier Gutierrez) and Pedro (Raul Arevalo) one believe in violence to get thing done the other is analytical. In this film you will find the negative of 2 naked girls, a drunk with a shotgun, a man who knows all the shortcuts, a journalist whose family call him Truman Capote, an illegal brick, an abandoned farmhouse, a psychic who guts fish, a man in a hat who smells of expensive cologne which equal to a rare film that will kick you in the gut. Rodriguez brings those elements with greatness plus the perfect beautiful cinematography to go with it. It could be more than a perfect film.

Marshland (2014)

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