by GREG KING.
The Spanish film festival offers a fine selection of contemporary cinema from both Spain and Latin America. The festival screens at Palace Cinemas around Australia from April 29-May 21. Check the website at www.spanishfilmfestival.com for screening details and session times.
For his Movies At Dusk program, Greg spoke to Genevieve Kelly, the artistic director of the Spanish Film Festival. To listen, click on the link below https://www.mediafire.com/listen/9xa6ddhtlzpyrsn/190406_001.MP3
LIVING IS EASY WITH EYES CLOSED.
The opening night film for this year’s Spanish Film Festival is this charming, enjoyable and feel good road trip comedy which takes its title from the lyric of the Beatles’ song Strawberry Fields Forever. Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed was a big winner at Spain’s Goya Awards, and it’s easy to see why. The film is set in 1966, and Spain is abuzz with excitement because John Lennon has come to the region of Almeida to shoot a movie. Antonio (veteran Spanish actor Javier Camara, a regular collaborator with Pedro Alomodovar) is a down-trodden Latin teacher who uses Beatles’ songs to teach English to his students. Obsessed with the Beatles, he is keen to meet his hero and talk to John and try and convince him to put the lyrics of their songs in the album notes. He sets off across country. Along the way he picks up a couple of young runaways – the pregnant Belen (Natalia Molina) an outcast who is drifting without any real purpose, and 16-year-old Juanjo (Francesc Colomer, from the coming of age drama Black Bread, etc) who has run away from home following a disagreement with his parents over his future and the length of his hair. Once in Almeira the trio set up residence in a local bar/hotel and forge a close bond. During the sojourn in this beautiful location the three learn a lot about each other and themselves, and this journey becomes a life changing experience for them. The film explores many familiar tropes of the road movie genre. The film is directed with a leisurely and unhurried pace by David Trueba, the younger brother of director Fernando Trueba, and his sensitive and compassionate touch allows the audience to engage with these characters and enjoy the beautiful scenery. It has been beautifully shot by cinematographer Daniel Vilar. But there is an undercurrent of darker themes lying beneath the surface, as Trueba suggests what life was like in Sapin under the repressive regime of Franco.
SCORPION IN LOVE.
Set in contemporary Madrid, this is a gritty and hard hitting drama that mixes a story about star-crossed lovers with boxing and neo-Nazis. Javier (exciting, hunky young Spanish star Alex Gonzalez who appeared in the Hollywood blockbuster X-Men: First Class) is a member of a fascist neo-Nazi gang, under the sway of the charismatic Solis (Skyfall‘s Javier Bardem), and they commit “actions” against migrants and foreigners. Javier is initially poisoned by the politics of hatred and intolerance. But then he joins a local gym and takes up boxing, which offers him the chance to turn his life around. Under the guidance of the reluctant Carlomonte (Carlos Bardem), a former boxer living with his sense of failure and regrets, Julian’s attitude and outlook slowly changes. He falls in love with the beautiful immigrant Alyssa (Judith Diakhate). He rejects the violence and hatred of the neo-Nazis, which brings him into conflict with his brotherhood and, ironically, his own brother Luis (Miguel Angel Silvestre), a real hothead and full of aggression and unrelenting hatred. Gonzalez conveys Julian’s complex emotional journey effectively and the film makes the most of his brooding and handsome presence. In the Oscar-winning No Country For Old Men Bardem was a truly creepy and menacing character, but he reels back his normal intensity for a more subtle performance here as Solis. Older brother Carlos brings a grizzled and ;poignant quality to his role. Scorpion In Love offers a fairly blunt look at contemporary Madrid which is gripped by powerful undercurrents of organised racism and violence. The film is based on the semi-autobiographical novel written by Carlos Bardem, and writer/director Santiago Zannou (The One-Handed Trick, etc) uses boxing as a powerful metaphor throughout the narrative. Zannou often explores themes of alienation, identity, conflict and self-destruction and Bardem’s novel is a good fit for his body of work.
For his Movies At Dusk program, Greg spoke to the star of Scorpion In Love Alex Gonzalez, who is visiting Australia to introduce the film and participate in Q&A sessions. To listen to the interview click on the link below: