Aki Kaurismäki, Pedro Costa, Víctor Erice, Manoel de Oliveira – Centro Histórico (2012)

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Commissioned to promote the sleepy Portuguese city of Guimarães as a 2012 European Capital of Culture, this omnibus curio brings together an illustrious quartet of international cinema auteurs and invites them to roam through picturesque town squares, abandoned industrial sites and the ghostly remains of national history. In the first segment, Finnish favorite Aki Kaurismaki, in customary deadpan mode, finds bleak humor in the comings and goings of a hapless café proprietor whose business and romantic prospects dwindle as he daydreams of dancing. Next, native son Pedro Costa deploys his rigorous formalism (static shots, unstinting gazes, disembodied speech) to interrogate a former Cape Verdean revolutionary who flees the unnerving accusations of a calcified soldier through dead-of-night forays into an enchanted forest. Continue reading

Víctor Erice – El Espíritu de la colmena aka The Spirit of the Beehive (1973)

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Plot Synopsis [AMG]
Widely regarded as a masterpiece of Spanish cinema, this allegorical tale is set in a remote village in the 1940s. The life in the village is calm and uneventful — an allegory of Spanish life after General Franco’s victory in the Spanish Civil War. While their father (Fernando Fernán Gómez) studies bees in his beehive and their mother (Teresa Gimpera) writes letters to a non-existent correspondent, two young girls, Ana (Ana Torrent) and Isabel (Isabel Telleria), go to see James Whale’s Frankenstein at a local cinema. Though they can hardly understand the concept, both girls are deeply impressed with the moment when a little girl gives a flower to the monster. Isabel, the older sister, tells Ana that the monster actually exists as a spirit that you can’t see unless you know how to approach him. Ana starts wandering around the countryside in search of the kind creature. Instead, she meets an army deserter, who is hiding in a barn. The film received critical accolades for its subtle and masterful use of cinematic language and the expressive performance of the young Ana Torrent. Continue reading

Victor Erice, Claudio Guerín & José Luis Egea – Los Desafíos aka The Challenges (1969)

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Synopsis:
Dean Selmier plays an expatriate American in each story of this trilogy. Francisco Rabal and his family star in the first feature filmed at the Rabal family home in Madrid. An over aggressive American soldier tries to put the moves on his wife and daughter before he is clubbed and thrown into the swimming pool. Part two finds a hippie couple slain at the country home of a wealthy local (Alfredo Mayo) after the young woman is offered to him for money and the boy makes love to the man’s wife. In part three, an American man, a Cuban girl, two Spanish students and a chimpanzee throw a dance party before the American plants a bomb that destroys everyone. (allmovie)
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Victor Erice & Abbas Kiarostami – Erice Kiarostami: Correspondences (2006)

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The potent work of two filmmakers from diverse backgrounds are bought together in this book. Correspondence uniquely presents the work of two filmmakers who share a profound and deliberate vision, in spite of their vastly different backgrounds. The work of Spaniard Victor Erice and Iranian Abbas Kiarostami share a common preoccupation with investigating the tension that exists between the individual and society. As filmmakers, they are both intensely independent, determined to advance the expressive potential and capacity of cinema. Working in contemporary cinema, these two quintessential figures often purposely recapture the stark and primal character developed by early cinema pioneers. Continue reading