Spanish Cinema Now

Tirante el Blanco (The Maidens’ Conspiracy), 2006

Based on the popular, baroque, fifteenth century chevalier story Tirante el Blanco, the seminal Catalan novel that Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra cites as a profound influence on the realization of Don Quixote de La Mancha, Vicente Aranda’s The Maidens’ Conspiracy is a lavish, risqué, and skillfully composed, but superficial and unsatisfying medieval adventure that combines… read more »

Los Años Desnudos (The Naked Years: Rated-R), 2008

The liberalization of Spain in the aftermath of Franco’s death provides the chaotic framework for Dunia Ayaso and Félix Sabroso caustic seriocomedy Rated-R, a deconstruction of the cine del destape (literally, “uncovered films”) wave of risqué, low budget comedies that sought to push the envelope of social mores and dismantle taboos reinforced during Franco’s repressive… read more »

Contestant, 2007

Rodrigo Cortes’s first feature, Contestant is something like effervescent, visual prestidigitation, a self-consciously frenetic, hyperactive, insubstantial, flauntingly inconstant, and naïve satire on the perils of modern-day instant wealth, consumerism, applied economics, and state taxation. The film follows the plight of an attractive economics history professor, Martin Circo (Leonardo Sbaraglia) who wins the largest cache of… read more »

La Doble Vida del Faquir (The Magicians), 2005

In 1937, when Spain was in the midst of a devastating civil war between the Nationalists (led by Franco) and the Republican loyalists, an unlikely sanctuary from the austerity and violence came in the form of Sant Julià de Vilatorta, a charity boarding school for orphaned boys established at the turn of the century by… read more »

Fiction, 2006

In an early episode in Cesc Gay’s thoughtful and slow brewing film, Fiction, married, thirty-something, Barcelona-based filmmaker, Alex (Eduard Fernández), having retreated to the cabin of his globetrotting friend, Santi (Javier Cámara) in the scenic country in order to work on the screenplay for his next film, watches a video from Santi’s recent cowboy adventure… read more »

The Archimedes Principle, 2004

The Archimedes Principle of buoyancy states that a body submerged in fluid is acted upon by a force equal to that of the displaced fluid. It is this law of displacement and macrocosmic neutralization that seemingly governs the life of a rising, junior executive named Sonia as well who, unable to find a babysitter one… read more »

Lola, La Película, 2007

In the opening sequence of Lola, La Película, young Lola Flores, the daughter of a tavern owner from Jerez de la Frontera, convinces a gypsy flamenco teacher to take her in as a student by performing a lively interpretation of the dance, incorporating an assortment of freestyle twists and turns that causes him to ask… read more »

La Dama Boba, 2006

In a well-appointed villa in seventeenth century Spain, a wealthy, widowed noblewoman, Otavia (Verónica Forqué) vows to marry off her two beautiful, but problematic daughters: Nise (Macarena Gómez), whose dark, smoldering beauty is equally matched by the ferocity of her intellect and penchant for uncompromising, philosophical debates with the finest intellectuals of the day, and… read more »

Casual Day, 2007

Something like a neutered cross between Dan Pita’s bituminous satire on dysfunctional leadership, Orienteering, and Nicolas Klotz’s exposition on corporate moral conscience (and amnesia) La Question humaine, Max Lemcke’s Casual Day is a serviceable, if slight and pedestrian take on the inherent fallacy of team building exercises that serve only to reinforce institutionalized power structures… read more »

Los Condenados, 2009

The delineation between reality and mythology, ideal and application also provides the catalyst for Isaki Lacuesta’s first fiction film, Los Condenados (The Condemned). The rupture is prefigured in the opening image of a gaunt, Argentinean expatriate, Martín (Daniel Fanego) undergoing a CT scan at a Spanish hospital, the implication of cancer suggesting a hidden, indefinable… read more »