Carlos Saura – Mamá cumple 100 años AKA Mama Turns 100 (1979)

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Returning to the dysfunctional family dynamic and generational saga of Anna and the Wolves in its psychological exposition into the root of ingrained human cruelty and repression, Mama Turns 100 Years Old is a wry, eccentric, and provocative, if underformed satire on the latent trauma and moral repercussions of emotional subjugation, manipulation, and corruption. On the eve of the indomitable family matriarch, Mama’s (Rafaela Aparicio) centenary, former domestic servant Ana (Geraldine Chaplin), now the happily settled wife of a devoted, bohemian husband named Antonio (Norman Briski), has received a personal invitation from Mama herself to stay as a guest in the secluded family estate and celebrate the festivities – an unexpected request that, as Mama subsequently reveals, stems from the inescapable conviction that her family, goaded in part by her conniving daughter-in-law, Luchi (Charo Soriano) and enabled by her dotty, gullible son, Fernando (Fernando Fernán Gómez), has been underhandedly plotting to kill her before she reaches the all-important milestone. However, as Ana and Antonio alternately settle into their awkward roles as accommodating guests of absurd, idiosyncratic rituals and bemused observers of a deeply rended (if superficially intact) familial intimacy, the couple, too, inevitably becomes caught up in the corrosive atmosphere of petty infighting, superficial civility, aimless distraction, nebulous alliances, and emotional deception (a figurative entrapment that is visually encapsulated in Anna accidentally stepping into a rabbit trap within the estate grounds). Continue reading

Carlos Saura – Stress-es tres-tres AKA Stress Is Three (1968)

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Synopsis:

‘Fernando, with his wife and life-long friend, Antonio, set out on a weekend together. Fernando begins to suspect his wife and Antonio of being in love, and his jealousy grows as he observes them in a situation he, himself, created.’
– BFI

Carlos Saura on Stress-es tres-tres:

‘Despite the enormous success of Peppermint Frappe I felt on edge. I had told a story in that film, in the sense that a story with a very precise narrative thread was told. The reason for my dissatisfaction stemmed from the feeling that the story had trapped me and I wanted to be free of it. So I made Stress-es tres-tres which was a sort of liberation.’ Continue reading

Carlos Saura – Peppermint Frappé (1967)

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Synopsis:

‘Julian, a middle-aged single doctor, meets his childhood friend Pablo again. The latter is back from Africa and has just married a beautiful young blonde, Elena. Julian falls in love with her and tries to seduce her, but she mockingly pushes him away from her. He then finds that Ana, his nurse, bears a troubling resemblance to Elena. He decides to gradually transform Ana into Elena…’
– Guy Bellinger Continue reading

Carlos Saura – Elisa, vida mi­a AKA Elisa, My Life AKA Elisa, My Love [Uncut] (1977)

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Elisa, vida mía is a 1977 Spanish drama film written and directed by Carlos Saura. The film stars Saura’s long-term companion and frequent collaborator, Geraldine Chaplin. She stars alongside, Fernando Rey who won the Best Actor award at the 1977 Cannes Film Festival for his performance.

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‘ELISA, VIDA MIA’ By Vincent Canby Published: March 11, 1983

NEAR the end of Carlos Saura’s ”Elisa, Vida Mia,” Fernado Rey, in the role of an aging ascetic named Luis, talks movingly to his daughter, Elisa (Geraldine Chaplin), about his youthful artistic pretensions. He recalls that he used to spend hours and days polishing a letter, getting the syntax right, refining the thoughts and elevating the tone. Now, he admits, he prefers the spontaneous letter, unrefined, natural, with crossed-out words. Luis has no interest in Art. Continue reading

Carlos Saura – La Prima Angélica AKA Cousin Angelica (1974)

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The initial idea for the film came from a specific reference to a cousin Angélica, in a scene from Ana and the wolves (Spanish: Ana y los lobos), director Carlos Saura’s previous work. In Ana and the wolves there is an inconsequential bit of dialogue that occurs in the private conversation between the family matriarch and the title character. The old woman speaks of a certain cousin Angélica who, as a small child, coquettishly played with one of her sons. Building on that allusion, Saura and writer Rafael Azcona developed a script about the childhood memories of a man now in his mid forties and his flirtatious cousin, Angélica, on whom he had a crush when he was ten years old. These memories become the lure for the protagonist’s reencounter of his long suppressed past. Continue reading

Carlos Saura – Carmen (1983)

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synopsis

Director Carlos Saura’s Carmen develops a fictional story revolving around the rehearsals of Georges Bizet’s opera about the brash and colorful cigarette factory woman and her dalliance with the soldier Don José, and eventual love for Escamillo, the bullfighter. Saura introduces exciting flamenco dance scenes and a love story between Antonio (Antonio Gades), the choreographer of the opera, and the actress playing Carmen, Laura del Sol. Joan Sutherland and Paco de Lucía also perform segments from Bizet’s 1875 opera. The mix of magical choreography, rousing flamenco dances, and operatic insertions as well as the tongue-in-cheek parodies of the French opera and foreign stereotypes of Spaniards keeps most viewers well entertained throughout. Saura’s Carmen won an award for “Artistic Contribution” and for “Technical Achievement” at the Cannes Film Festival in 1983, another award for “Technical Achievement” at the 1983 Venice Film Festival, and the “Best Foreign Language Film” award at the 1984 British Academy Awards. It was the second in a trilogy of films choreographed in a similar style by Antonio Gades. Continue reading

Carlos Saura – La Caza AKA The Hunt (1966)

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José, Paco and Luis are three friends and war veterans who one day decide to go hunting in the company of Enrique, a 20-year-old on his first outing. They will practice their favorite sport on Paco’s land, where not too long ago an important Civil War battle took place. An edgy thriller as well as a heavily symbolic study of hatred and rivalry, the hunt becomes an allegory of war.
Continue reading