The Spanish Film Festival is on all around the country at the moment. Our own Kathie is there for Digital Education Services reviewing three more films, here is the first of three more. Read her other reviews from the festival too: Three Many Weddings (Tres bodas de más) and Living is Easy with Eyes Closed (Vivir es fácil con los ojos cerrados).
Reviewed by Kathie.
Family United, is a very funny, warm-hearted, very loose Spanish take on the 1954 Hollywood musical, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. This Spanish family has two fewer brothers but the five are all named, as in the Hollywood film, for biblical characters, Adan, Benjamin, Caleb, Daniel, and Efrain. They all meet at the family ranch to celebrate the wedding of youngest brother, 18 year old Efrain, who is tying the knot with one of his childhood sweethearts, and includes almost every possible disaster imaginable on a wedding day whilst somehow maintaining a freshness and largely steering clear of the predictable. There are some deeply poignant moments interspersed with hilarious bits of slapstick (watch out for Raúl Arévalo’s unmissable performance as the waiter), wryly amusing bits of tongue in cheek humour and a thoroughly over-the-top Bollywood-style musical number for the arrival of the bride. There are family and individual secrets; broken hearts; a brush with death; intrigue and brooding; sibling rivalry; a contrived break-in and burglary, all set against the drama of the 2010 soccer World Cup final being played out on the same day.
The story is supported by a strong cast with stand out performances from Roberto Alamo as child-minded but hulking second oldest brother, Ben, who is both lovable and hilarious; and Antonio de la Torre as an endearing depressive older brother, Adan.
Kathie is at the Spanish Film Festival for Digital Education Services. Read Kathie’s second review from the Spanish Film Festival, on now in most capital cities around the country. Today she reviews Living is Easy with Eyes Closed. You can also check out her review for another film from the festival, Three Many Weddings (Tres bodas de más).
Review by Kathie.
David Trueba’s Living is Easy with Eyes Closed won six awards at this year’s Goyas, and deservedly so. But how could it lose, based on real events concerning John Lennon, with the wonderful Javier Camara in the lead role of Antonio, and a truly engaging storyline? Antonio, dedicated and homely English teacher, who inspires his students with the lyrics of Beatles songs, takes off on a road trip to the south of Spain in hopes of talking to his hero John Lennon who he learns has a small role in a war comedy currently being shot in Almeria, Spain’s spaghetti Western territory. The desolate and arid scenery of this part of the south of Spain is almost another character in the story.
On the way, Antonio picks up first Belén, 20, and then Juanjo 16, each with their own reasons for running away from aspects of Franco’s oppressive regime being played out in their own lives. One of the strengths of the film is that the grimness of those years is only lightly sketched in for us without ever dominating. The two youngsters, each with their own well defined character and life issues, are great foils for Antonio’s sense of fun, and his innate affection for young people in general. There are many hilarious scenes interspersed with tender and moving moments. The quest ultimately has consequences that all Beatles fans can feel grateful for. Very well worth seeing.
Incidentally, if you saw older brother, Fernando Trueba’s ‘Belle Epoque’ in the early 90’s you’ll recognise Jorge Sanz and Ariadna Gil (as Juanjo’s father and mother) playing opposite each other again. You can see them in the ‘Belle Epoque’ trailer on You Tube.
Kathie is at the Spanish Film Festival for Digital Education Services, the festival is taking place right now in most capital cities. Here is her review for the film Three Many Weddings (Tres bodas de más):
Review by Kathie
I had my doubts about this film as it exploded onto the screen with an apparently private though thoroughly ridiculous break up conversation between protagonist, Ruthy (whose gorgeous looks are very thinly disguised by clichéd dark-rimmed glasses), and her average-looking boyfriend, which we soon learn has played out with a table full of fellow guests at a wedding reception as audience.
Fortunately, the film only gets better as we find ourselves drawn into a madcap romantic comedy that sees our lovely, submissive Ruthy transformed as she blunders painfully through three more weddings, is oppressed by a manipulative boss at work along the way. She is accompanied by Dani, her long-suffering (and drop-dead gorgeous) intern lab assistant.
If you’ve ever felt used, abused and as though life is passing you by, Javier Ruiz Caldera’s ‘Three Many Weddings’ is the remedy you need – a hilarious romp which pays homage to Almodovar in its exaggerated style, including the use of outlandish colour combinations (a la Kika), Ruth’s transgender ex, and even an appearance by Rosi de Palma as Ruth’s outrageously overbearing but doting mother.