Disagreeing with Ramón # 01 – Almodóvar

Almodóvar

With this post I begin my sectionDisagreeing with Ramón“, AKA my uncle, the well-known doctor who some time ago evolved into a kind of internet film critics guru hahaha.

We both share a love for the 7th art, although many times we think diametrically opposite things about the same films, and who will be right?
Well… the two of us, because in this thing of art, if we are able to reason and argue our opinion, we all are!

The reason for this section is a sort of “counter-review” of films that he didn’t liked and i do, and vice versa.

I wish I had the same eloquence with which he praises or massacre these films, but I will try at least

Experience leads me to think that the profession of critic makes no sense because objectivity does not exist, and we should only be interested in the opinions of those with whom we discover an affinity. (Curiously, going to leave my vote in filmaffinity, I find that I do not agree this time with one of the few critics I am interested in consult, the great Jordi Costa)

Everyone should use the “For me…”, “In my opinion…”, “To my taste…“, instead of exercising judgments, those who they try to give the aura of the absolute truth, when what professional critics get is, in many cases, to transmit an aura of arrogance and overbearingness.

When valuing a film or any other piece of art or cultural product, also come into play our expectations, conjured together with our tastesin this case, I expected the usual excellence in Almodóvar, especially in his last films, but this is to advance contentThe fact is that I have always been seduced by Pedro’s cinema, from its beginnings erotic-kinky-festive even as I say, his latest films in which he demonstrates a mastery of audiovisual language at the level of the greatest.

I had always the impression that the vast majority of people who make a living with film criticism, and what we could call “The academics of cinema“, are contaminated by an extension of the noxious plague of the single thought that wants to convert us all into homogenous individuals, without taste or own personality. But hey, it’s just an opinion

Julieta

Poster Julieta

Technically impeccable, a great work of direction on the part of Pedro, but the performances look forced to me, especially the father of Julieta. Some moments somewhat ridiculous by script, accompanied by others of exquisite subtlety. A music that I like a lot but that leaves me the aftertaste to be already heard, and that I do not think it fits very well with the tone of the story. It tries to sheathe it in mysterious tones, but it does not succeed in implanting in me the typical curiosity of the “genre”. The only mystery seems to be for the viewer, and the way he discovers how the script progresses, not for their characters who are limited to living, well, to flee continuously, to hide their grudges. As well as the structure, between spiral and broken, of the story, I don’t think it adds to it any special meaning or value as it can do in “Pulp Fiction”, for example.

Emma Suárez, to which I have great affection, it does not seem authentic to me and it does not catch me with its performance. She does not look like a person from the real world, but an imposed role in an actress. Instead with Adriana Ugarte I can connect.

Maybe the 3 stories of the writer in origin are magnificent, but when mixing them and, I suppose because I did not find it, give it the Almodovar touch, they do not work. The only thing, the great Rossy de Palma acting as Rossy de Pedro as she has always done so well.

Sex scenes fatally shot, as unfortunately it is habitual in the cinema and the television, except for honorable exceptions such as “Shortbus” or “Girls” and little else.

The first time, when I saw it in the cinema, I left with the feeling that every shot, there was a decision that seemed wrong to me and I would not have done sothat way. At no time can I empathize with the dramatic tone of the story, or the recurring theme of caring for the family, trying to achieve your dreams at any cost, regardless of the others, or motherhood, complicities, rupture or change in relationships. And basically, the material with which are interwoven all the elements of history does not emit a smell that makes me salivate in no time, that makes me can’t wait to give it the next bite.

So much pause, slow cadence, and a mania for the whispers makes me unable to connect with the story at any time, even puts me in a bad mood. I find it well worked but does not reach me emotionally, and I do not know if it is because the subject does not interest me especially or is that work put in the story. The film feels to me enormously long, given that only lasts 98 minutes…

And what I thought a director with the experience and personality of Almodóvar never would do, use the cheap trick of recalling an earlier scene so that the absent spectators, capt the symbology of a shot that should reverberate by itself thanks to the previous situation.

The best thing for me, the symbolic moment near the end in which appears what could be a mystical well, that would connect so many things…

Trailer :

What does my uncle thinks about “Julieta”

vs

I’m So Excited!

Los Amantes Pasajeros

Coral grotesque in the best sense. An obscene sexual, visual (mainly phallic) and verbal game.

Since the beginning with the credits paying homage to Saul Bass, and that melody combining classical music and cumbia portend something fresh and unique.

The comedy takes off with the typical warning about resemblance to fiction and the first gag with the name of the invented airline, which is a total bullshit and sets the tone marvelously from the beginning.

The casting is spectacular in all its characters, being perhaps the most forced the 2 cameos of the beginning.

A very meticulous art direction, which reminded me this time a bit to the great “Life Aquatic” from Wes Anderson, but without its excesses.

Five minutes have passed and I have been introduced to the story, and seeing how genially characterized are all the pilots, stewardesses, and passengers, makes me want to know everything about their lives.

*A nod to the instrumental version of “Malagueña Salerosa”, delightful.

We continue with the plot and the characters, a delicious subversion of what are usually air travels. Every plane I caught after seeing it turned out to be a disappointment for not being an adventure like this…is what cinema has, which is usually better than real life.

After a few more serious films in recent times where for me Pedro reached his maturity, this time he returned to the most punk comedy that is what made him well known in the beginning, as an orchestra master at the highest level, and he allows himself small games as remaking behaviors of some of his most famous “Almodóvar Girls” in the skin of some of the men in this movie.

If for something I think it’s so sagacious and breakthrough is because, in a single scenario (ok, almost exclusively) closed as is the plane, thanks to the meeting of characters so fucking great, authentic and unique (helped by a perfect cast), creates a microcosm thanks to the intersections between the multiple mini-plots that connects them, working at various levels.

Unlike in his last film, here the punctual moments in which the music makes an underlining of suspense, are well introduced and do not disappoint.

Yes, in the end it does not cease to be, apparently, a light and rowdy comedy, which will cause aversion to the whole queer-phobic collective. A deliriously funny apology for healthy sex (Mention of honor for that shot of Lola Dueñas enjoying a stolen Reverse Cowgirl with her hair flying in the wind), and to stay healthy, as comedy in hospitals should be prescribed…

I understand that also it shouldn’t be liked by the white, politically-correct and for the whole family comedy lovers which is so successful in our country, but the comedy is built on exaggeration and hyperbole, and here I find a perfect portion.

It also gives us one of the (which should be) most iconic musical numbers in the history of cinema.

The only negative point I find is that social criticism is too obvious, making it too easy and inelegant.

And, whenever I finish it, I leave with a big smile and the feeling of being a better person.

Trailer :

What does my uncle think about “Los amantes pasajeros”

The big difference between the 2 for me could be in terms of their characters and how actors represent them, in the first i find everything natural, organic and fresh, and in “Julieta” everything seems to me imposed, forced, without provoking me any empathy. In short, the characters of one attracts me, i find the ones in the other to be bland.

And to finish, it seems that I will have to make the second “Disagreeing with Ramon” about the new jewel of science fiction that Luc Besson gave us 20 years after one of my favorite movies of all time …

My first documentary

Since October 2016 I am doing my European volunteering service in the association of Idrissa Badji, ADIF, in charge within it’s WebTV of the communication for their projects of international mobility, formation and aid to North-South cooperation, in the facets of video creation, graphic design, web design, etc …

It had been a while I was mulling the option of going out as a volunteer, and France was my main destination, for my interest in the country, in finding a job here, and also to expand my possibilities in the search of work in Canada, being able to speak its 2 official languages. After an initial shock due to linguistic problems (I assumed that here I could relate to almost everyone in English, and I discovered that no, in the neighboring country the use of English is at a level similar to ours), I am already able to have a conversation in French, although I continue with my efforts to improve my level day by day.

As part of this one-year project, I have had the great fortune to do a 9 day trip to Dakar (Senegal), mainly i was at the peripheral district of Guédiawaye, where there are 6 French volunteers sent by us doing their “Service Civique” and whose associations i went to pick up their requests for help in communication issues, whether poster making, logo design, promotional videos, web pages, and, taking advantage of my stay, i started this documentary project to promote ADIF as a sending and receiving association of volunteers, as well as the work carried out by our partners in the african country.

La casa misteriosa

There I met a tremendously kind and open people, eager to share everything they have, and at the same time, to know my history. A new way of seeing life, a new way of eating (Although, due to its limitations by religion, arable land and others, with not much variety) and in short, new customs that have extended even more my way of looking at the world.

Perhaps for being the associations where I spent more time knowing how they work, the ones that more came to my heart were community radio Railbi Fm, the Omar Laye center where Hugo serves as basketball coach for children of a variety of ages in addition to the wheelchair team and above all, the school center Keur Khaleyi, where they receive children from families who can’t afford going to school, or children who have been removed from the education system for other reasons, as far as evening classes for adults who didn’t go to school, a center that works every day of the week with a fully dedicated team.

Baobab en SenegalIt also allowed me to discover my first baobab, a tree that has fascinated me since I was a child, probably since my mother read me “The little prince”.

We continued filming on my return, already in Cognac, with our day to day in the association, and after a few weeks of material selection, editing and post-production (thanks to my partner África for her help with such beautiful text frames!), a few days ago, the result of my trip is already available.

The experience has been very rewarding, a little bit hard for moments being my first “Facing danger alone” project , having to take care of everything, but of great help to continue evolving in my competences of the audiovisual. I have been able to identify the problems and failures, mainly the lack of lighting equipment, not having recorded all the materials i would have wanted when i was editing it or the need for better organization when planning recordings and interviews. I also had to learn how to fight against the unexpected so as not to go too far from the initial idea that you planned in the pre-production document. But I am satisfied with the result.

As this has re-awakened my desire to make it, i‘m going to dust off the transmedia documentary project that came to me 4 years ago to see if I can start it.

I hope you like it :

Valérie Donzelli’s La guerre est déclarée or cinema as therapy.

La guerre est déclarée poster

During the course of “Creating a video game project and design document”, our teacher, Carlos Llorente, told us about an adult-themed videogame with a very interesting concept, as an example of the moment in which video games are as narrative art, which tells the story of a 4 years old child suffering from cancer, and how his family confronts this challenge.

That game is “That Dragon Cancer“, and in turn, for having a similar theme, he told us about this movie, “La guerre est déclarée.

After seeing it and discover that its protagonist is in addition, the screenwriter, director and even makeup artist of the film, i have only compliments for her, another one of the “one man orchestra” that I admire so much in the world of the cinema, as they can be John Carpenter, Shane Carruth or Louis C.K.

But the most special thing about the film is its story, which is based on the real life of the protagonist couple. We begin with the tone of a crazy love story between young people until the drama unfolds in the family. And it seemed to me one of the best carried dramas in recent years, not having big stars in the cast nor big commercial apirations, they can afford to include real emotions, without approaching the manipulating melodrama that could be expected.

It is filmed with great freshness, and invites us on a journey plagued by good times and bad times, as life itself. And what to say of the couple protagonist, having lived themselves the story, they deliver a memorable performance.

A great example of how it should be done a dramatic story in the film industry without interference from agents who do not seek the best for the film.

As a curiosity, was selected by France to represent them in 2011 in the pursuit of oscar, but did not reach the final round, although that year came out as winner “A separation”, another huge dramatic film in which there is much to learn, both in the world of cinema and of the human being. What a harvest.

I leave you with the trailer :

And a link to buy it.

Koldo Serra’s Gernika and the paradigm of the survival of the cinema…

Two weeks ago he managed to release his second film, “Gernika”, released in 2016 after 4 years of hard work, one of the most interesting directors of our country, Koldo Serra.

Of those who do not do like everyone else, not known by almost anyone and do not give them hype. As expected, after 2 weeks on board, has been relegated to sunday morning session at the cinema where I could see it, and another single session at 16:00 in another suburban cinema.

The first one, “The Backwoods”, i think i remember that it didn’t even came out here in Zaragoza, although checking the date i see that i was studying in Barcelona, so if i couldn’t see it on big screen i imagine that I wouldn’t be aware and having followed the project in its beginnings and much later be released without promotion, i didn’t realize. I could see it recently, thanks to the file-sharing software because it seems to be discontinued, and I found more or less with what I expected, another more for my collection of dear “rednecks movies”, adding to “Deliverance”, “Straw Dogs” or “Furtivos”. Perhaps the huge expectations that the project created me in its beginnings (I just discovered the first 2 of this list and i was entranced by the genre) and the amount of years it took me to see it made it impossible for me to love it. I liked it, but I had the illusions of finding something more wild.

For “Gernika”, his second film, i have been able to enjoy, for the first time in my life, of a totally “private” projection, since it’s the first time I’ve been completely alone in a movie theater, a real pleasure.
The only thing that could have improved it is to have been able to enjoy a copy in original version, especially in a story like this, with so much character with accent in different language, And despite the fact that the dubbing was not bad at all, you lose a lot in the experience.

But … this unbeatable condition to enjoy the seventh art, unless you are accompanied by equally respectful people like you, is a stumbling block to the survival of the cinema. I had already been lucky, but always accompanied, of being in projections where there was no other spectator, but this time the entire movie theater was for me. My years of experience have made me see that in almost every session you have at least one rude person that defiles the compulsory silence of the room, either because they do not know how to consume food they seem to need to enjoy the movie, because they has verbal incontinence or as Nacho Cerdà warned when presenting one of his Phenomena in our city, the pitiful progress in the mobile phones what sometimes seems that the room is a garden of fireflies. Talking to a friend told me that Lars Von Trier had already dealt with this problem in the short filmOccupations“, but the idea of creating the ultimate gore attraction against bad manners in a movie theater remains in my head.

Returning to the topic of this post, Koldo Serra with this second movie achieves for me, even with some aspects that have not convinced me, enter the group of films that best deal with the subject of our civil war, with permission of “La vaquilla” or “Pan’s Labyrinth”, From a clear perspective of the democrat side but without abuse of the demagogy in which everyone is either bad or good according to the “side” from which the film was cooked.

The film manages to immerse ourselves in the drama of the republican press office that worked in Gernika, in the border with France, area in which the international press tried to enter to cover the Spanish civil war. Very interesting characters are built, it has a beginning that immediately captures my attention and the key scene of the bombardment is, like the rest of the film, directed in a superb way. The cast works quite well, but to my taste everything is overshadowed by how the camera is managed by its director.

Buuuuuuut, just as it happened to “Pearl Harbour” (By the analogy of a film based on a famous bombing), The script is shipwrecked by forcefully introducing a love triangle that distances us from the plot that really matters to us, as happened in that one and in so many and many times in which it is believed that the love story is necessary to reach the public.

At the same time, some specific moments of dialogue got me out of the story, but I found it the least of his “problems” and it’s the hardest thing I find and i value more in any screenwriter, giving birth to “authentic” dialogues.

Except these two aspects that did not convince me, it seems to me one of the best period films of our country and one of those that best portrays the lowest period of our history.

I leave you with the international poster, much more stylish than the one used in our country, and the trailer.

Gernika poster internacional

Link to Filmaffinity.