Movie Review – Pain and Glory (Dolor y Gloria)

TL;DR – A beautiful look at how the pain of the past can define us even when we don’t know that it is happening.    

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Pain and Glory (Dolor y Gloria). Image Credit: Universal.

Review

Walking into this film I didn’t know what to expect, I knew it stared Antonio Banderas, but not a whole lot else. Indeed, I think that was the same for a lot of the people sitting around me, with one person mentioning that they “hoped it was more glory than pain.” However, as the film went on it became clear that this was a film about how pain and glory can find themselves intertwined.

So to set the scene, Salvador Mallo (Antonio Banderas) was once a famous film writer/director in Madrid, but these days he spends most of his time in his house alone with his painting and his thoughts. Over the years his body has slowly been causing him more and more pain culminating in major back surgery that he has never really gotten over. Being a filmmaker was everything to him and now when he can’t physically do it anymore he has lost his purpose for life. One day he is contacted by a local cinema who has remastered Sabor one of his earlier films and they have asked him and the lead actor Alberto Crespo (Asier Etxeandia) to come to host a Q&A. The only problem is that Salvador has not spoken to Alberto in 30 years. But more than that, this event starts dredging up the past in all its beauty and dysfunction.

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Movie Review – Diecisiete (Seventeen)

TL;DR – A beautiful story about families and what you would do for them.

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Diecisiete (Seventeen). Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

What would you do for the people you love? Would you break the law? Would you fight? Would you run? Would you hand them in to the police to get them help? In many ways, this is one of those few things that break down the usual barriers that we put up, that define the clear right and wrong. Today we look at a film that explores that boundary and does not hold back.

So to set the scene, Héctor (Biel Montoro) has a flexible relationship with the law, in that he has a very regard system of right and wrong and if it means stealing a heater to help his Abuela Cuca (Lola Cordón) who’s heater has not been fixed in weeks then that is fine. Things probably would have been fine but his brother Ismael (Nacho Sánchez) let the authorities know. Sentenced to two years in juvenile detention Héctor constantly escapes to see how far he can get. Struggling to find a way forward the centre staff give him a dog to help train which he calls Sheep. All is fine and he is only a month before release when one day Sheep is gone, he has done such a good job that Sheep was adopted and that triggers a countrywide chase for closure.

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Movie Review – La Influencia (The Influence)

TL;DR – A visually compelling horror film that does not quite have the story depth to back it up    

Score – 3 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

La Influencia (The Influence). Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

If you could bottle creepy? In what form would it take. There would be the bumps in the night, the flickering lights, the things of the past that you had thought forgotten, occult rituals in the night, little girls with more knowledge than they should have, creepy crawlies the sound of a ventilator and heart monitor beeping in the distance. Well if that is what it takes then La Influencia is that and more.   

So to set the scene, Sara (Maggie Civantos), her husband Mikel (Alain Hernández), and daughter Nora (Claudia Placer) are on their way back to Sara’s family home. Sara has not been back in years after a falling out with the mother Victoria (Emma Suárez). After the death of her husband, Victoria delved into the world of the occult and brought her family with her. Now she is just an old lady strapped to a ventilator after having a stroke. But as Nora becomes closer and closer to her comatose grandmother, things start to go wrong around town.

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Movie Review – End of the Century (Fin de Siglo)

TL;DR – A very erotic look at the past and what choices led us to where we are and where we could have been    

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

End of the Century (Fin de Siglo). Image Credit: Stray Dogs.

Review

So when you blindly pick from a film festival line up without researching anything about films you are about to see, there are some interesting choices that you could end up watching. For me, it was sitting down at watching what might be the most erotic film I have ever seen in a cinema. Like I don’t think you could show this film on late night SBS. But while there is that component it was also a look at what could have been.

So to set the scene, Ocho (Juan Barberini) is an Argentinean poet now living in New York. After reaching the end of a 20-year long relationship he has decided to take a short vacation to Barcelona after having to do some work in Madrid. While looking out the balcony of his Airbnb he notices Javi (Ramon Pujol) walking by in his Kiss shirt and well one thing leads to another (this might be the most glossed over of details sentence that I have ever written in a review). But as they are talking Ocho discovers that this is not the first time they have met.

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Movie Review – The Little Switzerland (La Pequeña Suiza)

TL;DR – A fun little film about small towns and that chaos they can cause for themselves.

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is an end-credit scene

The Little Switzerland (La Pequeña Suiza). Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

Ah, small-town life. If there was ever a concept that can transcend language and culture it is the chaos that a small town can find itself in if properly motivated. Today we get to look at a film that has one of the more interesting setups that I have seen and uses it to tell a delightful story about what happens when many competing visions clash together.   

So to set the scene, we open in on the town of Tellería which is located in the Castile-León Automatous Community of Spain but they feel they should be in Basque given the vast majority of the town identifies that way. For years the town has campaigned for this and just when it looked like it would finally happen, politics above their heads means that they are stuck as part of a compromise. Well all is not completely lost, because on that same day as the great embarrassment, local son Gorka (Jon Plazaola), heritage specialist Yolanda (Maggie Civantos), and priest Don Anselmo (Secun de la Rosa) stumble across a secret tomb in the local church in it is the grave of the son of William Tell the famous Swiss hero and reveals that it is a lost Swiss Canton. Now, the town has an option because all of a sudden that is more Swiss than Spanish even though they are Basque.          

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Movie Review – Boi

TL;DR – An odd little film that I don’t think every quite found its footing but left me feeling intrigued    

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Boi. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

Back in my ¡Ay, Mi Madre! review I mentioned that I wanted to explore more of Spanish cinema, what I didn’t realise was just how quickly the next film would roll around. But less than a week later a thriller set in Barcelona arrived on my desk, and I knew I had to check it out. Well, Boi is many things and thankfully interesting is one of them. 

So to set the scene, Boi (Bernat Quintana) is starting his first day as a private chauffeur in Barcelona, but he has a lot on his mind. Including caring for his Aunt (Fina Rius) and a breakdown in his relationship with his partner Anna (Miranda Gas). All of this leads him to completely getting the time wrong of when his first clients were arriving in the country so he has to rush and bluff his way into picking up Gordon (Adrian Pang) and Michael (Andrew Lua) two Chinese businessmen from Singapore. But that is only the start of three very long days.

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Movie Review – ¡Ay, Mi Madre! (Oh My Mother!)

TL;DR – While the premise is strong, the inconsistencies in tone lead to a dissonant ending.     

Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

¡Ay, Mi Madre!. Image Credit: Gossip Event & Productions.

Review

In my drive to see more international films, one area where I do not have a lot of experience with is the cinema from Spain and Latin America. Indeed, most of my experience comes from interpretations of Latin American culture like the still excellent Coco. However, today I start to fix this with a film that explores the difficult relationship between a mother and her daughter.

 So to set the scene, we open in on a day that no one wishes, for María (Estefanía de los Santos) is returning home, and not for a happy reunion. Because unfortunately, her mother Paca (Terele Pávez) has passed away, or maybe not unfortunately given how everyone talks about her. María had an estranged relationship with her mother that was never resolved. This means that María has to deal with all the funeral proceedings, while also dealing with the complicated relationship she had with her mother and that is all before the will is divulged.

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