Andrés Duque – Oleg y las raras artes AKA Oleg and the Rare Arts (2016)

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Several biographical facts: Oleg Nikolayevich Karavaychuk (1927) played the piano for Stalin as a child prodigy, attended the Leningrad Conservatory and in the course of his career primarily wrote music for theatre and film – for instance, for Paradjanov and Muratova. In Russia, he is admired for his music and his playing, but also for his unique and eccentric personality. At the age of 89, Karavaychuk is still a controversial and puzzling figure in Russian culture. Who is this man, who looks as if he stepped out of a story by Gogol?
The beautiful film that the young Andrés Duque made about him is a gift to the viewer, a gift from an old artist who wants to be reconciled with the world and who transports us away from reality with words, gestures and piano playing, free of social conventions, to a world where clashing dissonants have a liberating beauty. – IFFR Continue reading

Pedro Almodóvar – Julieta (2016)

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Julieta (Emma Suarez) is a middle-aged woman living in Madrid with her boyfriend Lorenzo. Both are going to move to Portugal when she casually runs into Bea, former best friend of her daughter Antia, who reveals that this one is living in Switzerland married and with three children. With the heart broken after 12 years of total absence of her daughter, Julieta cancels the journey to Portugal and she moves to her former building, in the hope that Antia someday communicates with her sending a letter. Alone with her thoughts, Julieta starts to write her memories to confront the pain of the events happened when she was a teenager (Adriana Ugarte) and met Xoan, a Galician fisherman. Falling in love with him, Julieta divides her time between the family, the job and the education of Antia until a fatal accident changes their lives. Slowly decaying in a depression, Julieta is helped by Antia and Bea, but one day Antia goes missing suddenly after a vacation with no clues about where to find … Continue reading

Carlos Saura – El jardín de las delicias AKA The Garden of Delights (1970)

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Review Summary
Jose Luis Lopez Vasquez stars as a millionaire industrialist who is involved in an auto accident. When he comes to, Vasquez has completely forgotten who he is and how much money he has. His greedy relatives would love to put Vasquez away and claim his fortune. But there’s a fly in the ointment: the money is in a secret Swiss bank account, and the only one who knows (or who knew) the account number is the amnesiac Vasquez. Those familiar with the work of Spanish director Carlos Saura know for darn sure that he’s not about to go the expected route with this surefire material: Garden of Delights, is just that, a bountiful garden of the surreal, the symbolic, the illusory, and at times the hilarious. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide Continue reading

Samuel M. Delgado, Helena Girón – Sin Dios ni Santa María AKA Neither God Nor Santa Maria (2015)

“Part ethnography, part mystic cinematic mirage, this beautiful and evocative portrait of Yé, a remote village on the island of Lanzarote, is a paradoxically opaque work of tactile pleasures. Shot on expired 16mm celluloid, the film makes a virtue of its degraded textures, granting its images of flora and fauna, coastal vistas and mountainous contours, the look of an excavated travelogue, with scratches and imperfections resonating on the soundtrack as ambient accompaniment to the vast topographical phenomena peering through the fog-shrouded atmosphere. Meanwhile, audio recordings made in the late-sixties by the ethnographer Luis Diego Cuscoy act as ominous narration, the voices relating stories of witchcraft and the occult that, over centuries, have taken on local legend. With an acute eye and ear for natural detail and speculative history, directors Samuel M. Delgado and Helena Girón have constructed both an oral diary and an archaeological account of a far-off land, all the more vivid for never quite coming into focus.” — Jordan Cronk, Fandor Continue reading

Sergio Oksman – O futebol AKA On Football (2015)

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Synopsis:
Filmmaker Sergio Oksman hasn’t seen his father Simão for 20 years. On the eve of the World Cup in Brazil, Oksman returns to his birth city of São Paolo, intending to watch the tournament together with his dad just as they used to. On Football follows the two men and the World Cup as they experience it: how they watch the games (at work, in a parking garage or a bar) and their furious attempts to make up for lost time. Things don’t go all that smoothly between Sergio and Simão – actually, they only manage to have a good talk if it’s centered around soccer. They reconstruct their past using matches, players and goals. During the Germany-Portugal game, they watch old home movies, including from Simão’s wedding. With the tightly framed shots and static camera angles, Oksman creates a shadow play in which father and son each play their role. But as firmly as he directs, both his father and reality end up more obstinate than he expected. It results in a touching and abrasive telling of time slipping past, with an old man finally realizing what time it is. Continue reading

Carlos Saura – Cría cuervos AKA Raise Ravens (1976)

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An inquisitive, cherubic girl named Ana (Ana Torrent) overhears a tender exchange between her father, a military officer named Anselmo (Héctor Alterio) and his mistress, Amelia (Mirta Miller), before the intimate moment gives way to tragedy and confusion, as Anselmo suffers a fatal heart attack. Amelia hurriedly dresses, leaving Anselmo’s body alone in the bedroom for the discovery of others, and exchanges a reluctant glance with Ana before running away to avoid a scandal. Young Ana impassively observes Anselmo’s rigid countenance before recovering a water glass from the bedside table, and methodically washes the item in the kitchen sink. Soon, the past, present, and distant past seemingly fuse into a surreal and reassuring incident as Ana’s dead mother (Geraldine Chaplin) passes through the kitchen and affectionately reminds Ana that it is past her bedtime. Later, a haunted and matured Ana (Geraldine Chaplin) recounts her childhood animosity towards her emotional callous and philandering father, blaming him for causing her late mother’s suffering that inevitably manifested in a slow, consuming illness. With the death of their father, Ana and her sisters, Irene (Conchita Pérez) and Maite, spend the rest of their summer vacation in the family home, entrusted to the care of Aunt Paulina (Mónica Randall), a stern, but well intentioned unmarried woman who discourages discussion about their parents in a mistaken belief that she is sparing the children from the grief of their profound loss. However, Paulina’s attention is preoccupied by her own surfacing romantic relationship, and the children are invariably left alone with their affable, obliging maid, Rosa (Florinda Chico) and their silent, detached grandmother (Josefina Díaz) whose own thoughts are consumed by cherished memories evoked from a collage of old family photographs. With little guidance and supervision, the children create an insular world that reflects the conflict, pain, and uncertainty of the enigmatic and impenetrable adult world around them. Continue reading

Fernando Fernán Gómez – La vida por delante (1958)

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Review
“La Vida por Delante” is the second film of Fernan Gomez, one of the most complete Spanish Cinema artists. After his debut in “Manicomio” (1954) as co-director, the turbulent career as a filmmaker Fernan-Gomez has been little appreciated by the public, being more known for his acting career at the orders of other directors.

This has made possible in part, we lose some of the gems that this director has given throughout his career.

It is an interesting film but still far from the levels of talent would reach director years later with works like “El Mundo Sigue” (1963) and “El Extraño Viaje” (1964). Continue reading