Archive for the ‘Spanish Cinema Now’ category

Mujeres On the Verge: top Spanish Cinema Now picks from Christian Del Moral

December 5, 2008

Craving some strong female Spanish performances? Guest blogger Christian Del Moral from the essential Cine Latino en Nueva York picks “Mujeres On the Verge,” the five films from the Spanish Cinema Now series you must see if you love strong Spanish women. So without further ado…

Mujeres On the Verge:

Five Spanish Cinema Now Performances Not to Miss!
by Christian Del Moral

Lola Dueñas
Chef’s Special

For the last few years, Lola Dueñas had been appearing in serious dramas by some of the top Spanish directors, like Almodóvar (Volver) and Alejandro Amenábar (The Sea in Inside). Now, if you want to see her comedic side, this will be a treat for you. In this film Dueñas shows her versatility as an actress. She’s teaming up again with Almodóvar and Penélope Cruz in The Broken Embraces, due next year.
Fri Dec 5: 7
Sat Dec 6: 6:45

Manuela Velasco
[REC]

Don’t be fooled by the perky TV reporter Angela Vidal, because in this instant horror classic and smash hit in Spain —and other parts of the world—she runs, jumps and fights the unknown. This great performance, on this hand-held camera action-packed flick, earned Manuela Velasco the Goya for Best New Actress last year. Well deserved!
Sun Dec 7: 6
Sat Dec 13: 9:30

Candela Peña
Torremolinos 73 & My Prison Yard

Besides Javier Cámara, who’s the actor with the most films on this year’s selection? That would be Candela Peña, who’s starring in three films. It’s her latest one, Rated-R, playing a desperate-for-love actress, that makes her outstanding. From the very first scene Peña proves that she’s up to the task: getting naked and quoting lines from the play Doña Rosita the Spinster. She also offers a strong performance in Torremolinos 73, and has a big part in the female ensemble-drama My Prison Yard.

Torremolinos 73
Sat Dec 20: 8:20
Mon Dec 22: 4:10
Tue Dec 23: 4:20

My Prison Yard
Fri Dec 19: 4:15
Sun Dec 21: 6:10

Goya Toleda and Mar Flores
Rated-R

We haven’t seen Goya Toledo in the USA since her breakthrough role in the award-winning pic Amores Perros (Alejandro Gonzales Iñarriti) but we’re glad she’s back as an introverted and out there actress in Rated-R. Toledo offers a vivid example of what some women in the biz endured during the post-Franco years. You might not be familiar with Mar Flores, but you won’t be disappointed with her take on wanting to have a normal family life. You can catch this statuesque beauty this weekend at one of several screenings.
Sun Dec 7: 8:30
Mon Dec 8: 4
Sat Dec 13: 5:15


Maribel Verdú
Blind Sunflowers

When was the last time we saw the star of Y Tú Mamá También and Pan’s Labyrinth on the big screen in NYC? Well, that was last year at the Walter Reade during SCN. We haven’t seen this new one yet, but in Spain audiences and critics have been more than enthusiastic, so we’re in. Don’t forget, this is Spain’s entry for best foreign language film at the Oscars. Next year Ms. Verdú will finally make her Hollywood debut in the hands of Francis Ford Coppola’s Tetro.
Fri Dec 12: 3
Sun Dec 14: 6:10
Thu Dec 18: 4:15

You can take in Christian’s “Mujeres on the Verge” picks by clicking on the dates above to buy tickets or purchasing a series pass at the Walter Reade Theater box office: that’s 5 films for $40 ($30 if you’re a Film Society member). And be sure to stay up on the latest on Spanish-language film in New York by visiting Christian’s blog, Cine Latino en Nueva York.

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Spanish Cinema Now: Questions for Javier Cámara

December 5, 2008

talk

Just before his appearance at the Film Society during the Spanish Cinema Now spotlight on his work, acclaimed Spanish actor Javier Cámara sat down with Film Comment’s Paul Brunick to discuss his career for the filmlinc blog.

Paul Brunick: Before we get into your films, we should mention that you worked in theatre and television for years before you crossed over.  Tell our readers about Seven Lives.

Javier Cámara:  (laughs) Seven Lives was the first sitcom in Spain for four or five years, more than a hundred episodes…

PB: …it was the longest-running sitcom in Spanish history, right?

JC: Yes.  It was very popular, and a lot of producers first saw me in this context.

PB:  And it was based on Friends, the American sitcom?  Or inspired by?

JC: Ah, no.  In the beginning it was a reference people made, you know, seven friends sitting on a couch.  But no it’s not the truth.

PB: Gotcha. Last note, the title refers to the idiomatic expression in Spanish that cats have seven lives—here in America they have nine.

JC: Ah, I will get an American cat then.

PB: Many of our readers may have first seen you in Sex and Lucia, but your big breakthrough in the states came with the starring role in Pedro Almodóvar‘s Talk to Her.  In that film, your performance feels very intuitive and organic—like you are Benigno. What was the process of creating that character like?  How much did you know coming in?

JC: Well Almodóvar knows the roles better than the actors.  Normally it’s the opposite.  But Almodóvar knows, and he helps you a lot. And we spent four months preparing for Benigno by taking classes with nurses, in manicure and massage.  These months helped me a lot to understand that Benigno needs to have a control, an absolute control of the little things in his life, because in his head he has a big problem. The lack of control for Benigno is a nightmare. At first we love Benigno, but as we come to discover more about him, we see darker thing.  But I think Almodóvar wants not to judge.  He takes this man, a rapist, and puts him in a romantic comedy.  It’s a perverse romantic comedy, or no, a tragicomedy. (laughs)  I have a lot of ideas in my head but not a lot of English words to go with them.

PB: At the start of Talk to Her, we might think—based on Benigno’s mannerisms and the fact that it’s an Almodovar movie—that Benigno is gay.  But then we learn of his desire for the comatose dancer.  In Hard Times, you’re stereotypically very masculine…

JC: But then you learn than he’s gay!  Yes, I like to play characters that surprise you, that surprise the audience, that surprise me.  My character has a curious story.  He has just been released from jail after years inside, and he goes to find his old cellmate.  [Who—spoiler alert—was his lover inside.]  But he needed the love from a man only in jail, not outside again.  It’s curious, but I understand perfectly that situation, but the character doesn’t understand what’s happened to himself.

PB: Two more films playing in the series–Torremolinos 73 and Chef’s Special—are both comedies, but they are very different in tone.  In Torremolinos you play very close to the chest, it’s an understated and deadpan sense of humor. But in Chef’s Special the humor is very broad—lots of mugging for the camera, big gestures, pratfalls.

JC: The director of Chef’s Special is the creator and director of Seven Lives.  He’s a man who worked in TV for five or so years, and he wanted to do a film.  And he loves my movements, he loves rough comedy—movements, screaming, radical situations.  The situation is about a gay man who owns a restaurant, but more than that it’s about the new liberty and freedom that’s now in Spain.  Which is also what Torremolinos is about.  And the other films too, in some ways they are all the same, all about a new freedom  of…

PB: the pursuit of happiness.

JC: Yes.

PB:  Javier Cámara—with a name like that the headlines write themselves.  Thanks for doing this.

JC:  Thank you.

How to tour Spain on $11 a day

December 3, 2008

It’s that time of year again–the Film Society’s yearly Spanish cinema extravaganza Spanish Cinema Now. For most of the month of December, the Walter Reade Theater is the place to sample the some of the most cutting edge visions in world cinema. Almodovar! Potential future Oscar winners! Cost-effective exotic escapism! It’s all here.


Since Spanish Cinema Now’s debut at the Film Society in 1992, annual film production in Spain has moved from about 40 movies per year into the triple digits. This year’s line-up reflects the tremendous diversity of Spanish talent behind the lens today: you’ll see a number of gripping genre chillers like [REC] (remade by Hollywood earlier this year as Quarantine), and the intricately constructed sci-fi flight of fantasy Timecrimes. I’m really looking forward to what sounds like Spain’s answer to Office Space, Casual Day. For those with a short attention span, check out the innovative shorts program Shortmetraje, or go even more experimental with the Avant-Garde Shorts program.


Spanish Cinema Now also presents a spotlight on acclaimed actor Javier Cámara, beginning with the opening night presentation of the amusing comedy-of-manners Chef’s Special. The foodies will probably be out in force for the nearly sold-out Friday night screening, but you can still score tickets to the screening on Saturday. BONUS: Javier Cámara will join us at the Walter Reade for both screenings! The spotlight also showcases Pedro Almodovar’s Talk to Her, as well as Blind Sunflowers, Spain’s entry for the best-foreign-language-film Oscar.

Be sure to check the filmlinc blog for our interview with Javier Cámara, coming soon.

What’s playing this weekend in Spanish Cinema Now:

Friday, Dec. 5
7:00    Chef’s Special, 111m
9:30    Before the Fall, 93m

Saturday, Dec. 6
4:30    Pretexts, 88m
6:45    Chef’s Special
9:30    Timecrimes, 88m

Sunday, Dec. 7
6:00    [REC], 90m
8:30    Rated-R, 97m