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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Quote:
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

Isabel Coixet – Nadie Quiere La Noche AKA Nobody Wants the Night (2015)

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Synopsis

INSPIRED BY TRUE EVENTS
Greenland, 1909. Josephine Peary is a mature, proud, determined and naive woman, in love with celebrated Arctic adventurer Robert Peary, a man who prefers glory and ice to the comforts of an upper-class home. For him she will face all danger, even risk her own life. Another woman, young but wise, brave and humble – Allaka – is in love with the same man, and expecting his child. The relentless icy landscape both separates and draws these two women together during the long, tense wait for the man they both love in such different ways. Continue reading

José Luis Guerín – La academia de las musas AKA The Academy of Muses (2015)

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After his classes, a teacher is questioned by his wife, who mistrusted the academic project is plotting her husband. The teacher’s intention is to create a “school of the Muses” inspired by the classic references, that should be used to regenerate the world through engagement with poetry. The controversial order triggered a round of scenes around the word and desire. Continue reading

José Luis Guerín – Tren de sombras AKA Train of Shadows (1997)

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Quote:
Ostensibly framed as a restoration of a degraded found film recovered some 70 years after the sudden and unexplained death of its creator, a Parisian attorney and amateur filmmaker named Gérard Fleury at a lake in the village of Le Thuit in Normandy, Tren de sombras (Train of Shadows) is a dense, sensual, and richly textured exposition of José Luis Guerín’s recurring preoccupations: the nature and subjectivity of the image-gaze, the permeable borders between truth and fiction, the role of architecture (and landscape) as palimpsest of hidden histories. By placing the discovery of Fleury’s last shot footage of his home and family within the context of the ambiguity surrounding the circumstances of his death after a seemingly innocuous scouting trip early one morning to find suitable lighting conditions to incorporate into his home movie, the found film becomes both a curious artifact of the early days of cinema in its informally staged performances that suggest the whimsical, created illusions of Georges Méliès (in a performance of dancing ties and magic tricks), and also a non-fiction, historical record that can be deconstructed, reconstituted, and re-analyzed to glean further information into the real-life mystery. Continue reading