Spanish Cinema

Carnival Sunday, 1945

Part Alfred Hitchcock styled mysterious intrigue and part 1930s inspired romantic comedy, Edgar Neville’s Carnival Sunday is a taut, irresistibly refined, and well crafted whodunit thriller. Set in the surreal atmosphere of the advent of Carnival Sunday, the beginning of the three day celebration that culminates with the Mardi Gras festivities (and ushers the beginning… read more »

Barcelona (A Map), 2007

Based on playwright Lluïsa Cunillé’s Barcelona, Map of Shadows, Ventura Pons’s richly textured nocturne, Barcelona (A Map) is an intimate and atmospheric rumination on urban architectures and shared spaces as integral projections of anonymous, emotional landscapes. Ostensibly capturing an evening in the life of an elderly couple, Rosa (Núria Espert) and her dying husband, a… read more »

Days of August, 2006

Marc Recha channels the spirit of Lisandro Alonso’s primitivistic, metaphoric journey of interiority in Los Muertos (a derivation made all the more transparent by an extended river exploration sequence) to a visually sublime, but soporific and tediously unoriginal effect in Days of August. Ostensibly a personal chronicle of a writer, Marc (Marc Recha) who embarks… read more »

Happy Parallel, 1964

Part of the Morality and Society program in the Clandestí: Forbidden Catalan Cinema Under Franco series, Enric Ripoli i Freixes and Josep Maria Ramon’s Happy Parallel emulates the familiar format of official Noticias Documentales newsreels – the only shot footages of “real life” permitted by Franco under a 1942 ban on non state-sponsored documentary filmmaking… read more »

Bullet in the Head, 2008

In a way, Bullet in the Head continues to push the level of alienation created in Jaime Rosales’s earlier films, The Hours of the Day (shot from the perspective of a serial killer) and Solitary Fragments (shot from the parallel perspectives of a terrorist attack survivor and members of an estranged family), this time, to… read more »

Solitary Fragments, 2007

By the time the final, pillow shot of Solitary Fragments unfolds – a congested panorama of dour, monolithic structures, interchangeable, tiled rooftops, and mobile cranes hovering over the cityscape in a perpetual state of construction and demolition – I was convinced that the film would conclude with some sort of postscript dedication to Edward Yang…. read more »

The Seventh Day, 2004

On an isolated pueblo in the heart of the Spanish countryside, the seemingly familiar story of fickle young love unravels to incomprehensible tragedy when the spurned lover, Luciana Fuentes, expresses a vengeful wish on her seducer in the presence of her fragmented, devoted brother Jerónimo who, in turn, executes his sister’s wish, resulting in the… read more »

¡Ay Carmela!, 1990

A prevailing thread that continues to weave through Carlos Saura’s aesthetically fluid, articulate, and refreshingly (re)inventive cinema is in his instinctual acuity to capture society’s moral landscape – invariably transfiguring and adapting conventional film form in unexpected, often groundbreaking ways that, in their bracing novelty, also becomes a refracted, secondary reflection of their culturally rooted… read more »

Love, the Magician, 1986

While Blood Wedding, the first dance film in what would evolve to be Carlos Saura’s flamenco trilogy collaboration with choreographer Antonio Gades, distilled the art of flamenco to the essential movement of bodies and expression of the human voice, and the subsequent installment, Carmen examined the integral, often interpenetrating relationship between reality and performance (albeit,… read more »

The Stilts, 1984

A somber, despondent, middle-aged university professor and respected playwright named Ángel (Fernando Fernán Gómez) returns to a large, empty country cottage that has been covered and secured for the season, perhaps the first time that he has returned since the untimely death of his wife and children. Restless in his sleep and haunted by the… read more »

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