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The 33 – Movie Review 12/10/2016

Posted by Films to consider in Based on true events, Drama, Imagen Foundation Awards, Movies, Spanish language film.
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The 33  (Chile/Spanish/English) 2015
Based on true events

Directed by Patricia Riggen
Starring Antonio Banderas, Rodrigo Santoro, and Juliette Binoche

Among other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Best Picture, Best Director (Riggen), Best Actor (Banderas), Best Actress (Binoche), Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress; NOMINATED, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress (all for Feature Film), Imagen Award

When a copper-gold mine in Chile collapses in 2010, 33 miners are trapped inside. As the miners deal with the reality that they have only a few days worth of supplies to survive on, the horrible working conditions of the mine are revealed.

Mario Sepúlvedo (Banderas) emerges as the leader of the men, rationing out the food available until supplies can be sent down to them. Aboveground their families, including María Segovia (Binoche), the sister of one of the miners, keep watch. They refuse to allow the mine owners or government authorities to give up trying to reach the men. The ordeal continues for an incredible 69 days.

Although the story of the miners’ survival is already known, the film keeps the tension going throughout. My admiration for The 33 is tempered by ongoing questions about compensation for the miners, however.

127 min.

For more info:
The 33

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Tristana-Movie Review *** 11/16/2015

Posted by Films to consider in Academy Awards, Black & white, Cinema Writers Circle Awards, Classic film, Drama, Emotional Drama, Fotogramas de Plata, Luis Buñuel, National Syndicate of Spectacle, Premios ACE, Psychological Drama, Sant Jordi Awards, Spain, Spanish language film.
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Tristana (Spanish) 1970 ***

Directed by Luis Buñuel
Starring Catherine Deneuve and Fernando Rey

NOMINATED, Best Foreign Language Film, Academy Awards
WINNER, Best Film; Best Actor (Rey); Best Director (Buñuel), Cinema Writers Circle Awards, Spain
WINNER, Best Spanish Movie Performer (Rey); NOMINATED, Best Spanish Movie Performer (Lola Gaos), Fotogramas de Plata
WINNER, Best Supporting Actress (Lola Gaos); Best Film; Best Male Star (Rey); Best Cinematography, National Syndicate of Spectacle, Spain
WINNER, Best Actor (Rey), Premios ACE
WINNER, Best Film (Buñuel); Best Performance in a Spanish Film (Rey), Sant Jordi Awards

When Tristana (Deneuve), an innocent young woman, loses her mother, she is sent to Toledo to live with Don Lope (Rey), a poverty-stricken nobleman, as her guardian. Lope is a lecherous man who is losing his charm as he ages. He seduces the innocent Tristana and tries to keep her in his clutches.

A psychological drama spotlighting the talents of two popular actors: a young Catherine Deneuve and the seasoned Fernando Rey. Famed writer and director Luis Buñuel (1900-1983) often took on the hypocrisy in Spanish society and in the Catholic Church, and this story includes both those themes. Although not a big award winner outside Spain in the early 1970s, the film, which was shot in black and white, stands as part of Buñuel’s legacy.

*** Highly recommended.

95 min. Rated PG-13

For more info:
Tristana

Amador-DVD Review 12/07/2013

Posted by Films to consider in Cinema Writers Circle Awards, Dark Comedy, Drama, Emotional Drama, Spanish Actors Union Awards, Spanish language film.
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Amador (Spanish) 2010
From Film Movement

Screenplay written by Fernando Léon De Aranoa
Directed by Fernando Léon De Aranoa
Starring Magaly Solier, Celso Bugallo, Fanny deCastro, and Pietro Sibille

NOMINATED, Best Supporting Actor (Bugallo); NOMINATED, Best Actress (Solier), Cinema Writers Circle Awards, Spain
NOMINATED, Award of the Spanish Actors Union, Film: Supporting Performance, Female (DeCastro), Spanish Actors Union

When Marcela (Solier), a young immigrant from Peru, discovers she is pregnant, she hides the fact from her boyfriend because she’s not sure about their future together. To make money for their plans to open a flower shop, she takes a job caring for Amador, an elderly invalid man. Her plans go awry when Amador dies.

This movie took me by surprise. Without revealing more about the plot, there was a backdrop of dark humor behind a story that generally has sad overtones. Director De Aranoa and actress Magaly Solier do an admirable job of holding the two elements in balance. I’m surprised that it didn’t receive more accolades, at least according to IMDB’s listings.

Also watch the short film, How It Ended, starring Debra Winger.

112 min. Not rated.

For more info:
Amador

Me Too-DVD Review *** 06/30/2013

Posted by dmbinder in Emotional Drama, Goya Awards, Movies, Romance, Rotterdam International Film Festival, San Sebastian International Film Festival, Spanish language film, Sundance Film Festival.
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Me Too (Spanish) 2009 ***
Yo, también

Written and directed by Antonio Naharro and Álvaro Pastor
Starring Pablo Pinedo and Lola Dueñas

Among other wins and nominations:
WINNER, Best Actress (Dueñas); Best Original Song; NOMINATED, Best New Actor (Pinedo); Best New Director (Naharro and Pastor), Goya Awards
WINNER, Audience Award, Rotterdam International Film Festival
WINNER, Silver Seashell-Best Actor (Pineda), Best Actress (Dueñas);
NOMINATED, Golden Seashell (Naharro and Pastor), San Sebastián International Film Festival
NOMINATED, Grand Jury Prize World Cinema-Dramatic, Sundance Film Festival

Daniel (Pinedo) is a man in his 30s who has Down’s Syndrome. With his family’s loving support, he has developed the best of his abilities and graduates from the university.

Daniel meets Laura (Dueñas) when he starts a new job at the Department of Social Services. He immediately becomes totally smitten with her, although, unknown to him, Laura’s lifestyle is less than admirable. To put it simply, both learn something about love, in a touching and much less predictable way than that might make it sound.

Highly recommended.

103 min. Not rated. Suitable for older teens.

For more info:
Me Too

Biutiful-DVD Review 01/27/2013

Posted by Films to consider in Academy Awards, Action/Thriller, Cannes Film Festival, Drama, Emotional Drama, Golden Globes, Goya Awards, Image Awards, Movies, Palm Springs International Film Festival, Spanish language film, Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Awards.
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Biutiful (Spanish) 2010

Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu
Starring Javier Bardem, Maricel Alvarez, Hanaa Bouchaib, and Guillermo Estrella

Among many other awards and nominations:
NOMINATED, Best Foreign Language Film, Best Leading Actor (Bardem), Academy Awards
WINNER, Best Actor (Bardem); NOMINATED, Palme d’Or (Iñárritu), Cannes Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Foreign Language Film, Golden Globes
WINNER, Best Actor (Bardem); NOMINATED, Best Cinematography; Best Score; Best Production Design; Best Original Screenplay; Best Supporting Actor (Eduard Fernández); Best Supporting Actress (Ana Wagener), Goya Awards
WINNER, Outstanding Foreign Motion Picture, Image Awards
WINNER, International Star Award (Bardem), Palm Springs International Film Festival
WINNER, Best Foreign Language Film, Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Awards

In Barcelona, Uxbal (Bardem) is steeped in the world of corrupt cops, drug dealing, and illegal immigrant labor. Since his ex-wife Marambra (Alvarez) suffers from bipolar disorder, he raises their two children, Ana (Bouchaib) and Mateo (Estrella) as best he can. When he learns that he has terminal cancer, Uxbal lovingly tries to do his best to provide for their future, in increasingly negative circumstances.

Not an uplifting subject, and sometimes tough to watch, but it is well worth it for the very admirable performance from Javier Bardem (one of my favorite actors).

148 min. Not rated. Adult themes and language.

For more info:
Biutiful

Cell 211-DVD Review *** 06/24/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Action/Thriller, Cinema Writers Circle Awards, Goya Awards, Seattle International Film Festival, Spanish language film, Suspense, Toronto International Film Festival, Turia Awards, Venice Film Festival.
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Cell 211 (Spanish) 2009 ***

Directed by Daniel Monzón
Starring Alberto Ammann, Luis Tosar, Antonio Resines, Carlos Bardem, and Marta Etura

Among many other awards and nominations:
OFFICIAL SELECTION, Venice Film Festival; Toronto International Film Festival; Seattle International Film Festival
WINNER, CEC Award, Best Actor (Tosar); Best Director (Monzón); Best Film; Best Editing; Best Score; NOMINATED, Best Cinematography; Best New Artist (Ammann); Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actors (Bardem; Resines); Best Supporting Actress (Etura), Cinema Writers Circle Awards, Spain
WINNER, Best Actor (Tosar); Best Director (Monzón); Best Editing; Best Film; Best New Actor (Ammann); Best Screenplay; Best sound; Best Supporting Actress (Etura); NOMINATED in several other categories, Goya Awards
WINNER, Golden Space Needle Award, Best Actor (Tosar), Seattle International Film Festival
WINNER, Audience Award-Best Spanish Film; WINNER, Turia Award-Best Spanish Film, Turia Awards

When it comes to prison movies, here is one that is definitely worth watching. Prison guard Juan (Ammann) shows up a day early for his new job and gets caught up in a prison riot. Juan, whose wife is expecting their first child, must figure out a way to survive inside the cell block, which is run by vicious inmate Malamadre (Tosar).

The number of awards the film received, especially in Spain, is not surprising. This story takes many unpredictable and well-executed twists and turns. Actor Luis Tosar has many credits to his name, but this is the first film for Alberto Ammann.

111 min. Not rated, but do expect a good deal of bloody violence (it is a prison riot, after all).

Check it out on Netflix
or
Amazon Cell 211

Broken Embraces-DVD Review 10/15/2011

Posted by Films to consider in Cannes Film Festival, Drama, Golden Globes, Movies, Pedro Almodóvar, Romance, Spanish language film.
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Broken Embraces (Spanish) 2009
Los abrazos rotos

Among many other wins and nominations:
NOMINATED, Best Foreign Language Film, Golden Globes
WINNER, Critics Choice Award, Best Foreign Language Film, Broadcast Film Critics Association Award
NOMINATED, Palme d’Or (Almodóvar), Cannes Film Festival
WINNER (tied), Audience Award, Best Foreign Language Film (Almodóvar), São Paulo International Film Festival

Written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar

Starring Penélope Cruz, Lluís Homar, José Luis Gómez, and Blanca Portillo

When now-blind screenwriter Harry Caine (Homar) learns of the death of the wealthy and powerful Ernesto Martel (Gomez), he reminisces about his own passionate love for Martel’s mistress Lena (Cruz). The story intermittently flashes back to the 1990s, depicting the jealousy and obsession that culminated in tragedy, and forward to the present where secrets are still being kept.

A good storyline, made even better by a superior cast. The always notable Penélope Cruz plays Lena with a sweet vulnerability and more deference to the powerful Ernesto than one might expect. Lluís Homar’s character changes from confident to dependent; forced to give up his career as a film director when he becomes blind, he even goes so far as to change his name from Mateo Blanco to Harry Caine.

127 min. Rated R for sexual content, drug use, language.

For more info:
Broken Embraces

The Maid-DVD Review 07/13/2011

Posted by Films to consider in Comedy, Dark Comedy, Golden Globes, Independent Spirit Awards, Light Drama, Movies, Sebastián Silva, Spanish language film, Sundance Film Festival.
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The Maid (Chilean/Spanish) 2009
La Nana

Among many wins and nominations:
WINNER, World Cinema-Dramatic Jury Prize (Silva); Special Jury Prize-Acting (Saavedra), Sundance Film Festival
WINNER, Breakthrough Award (Catalina Saavedra), Gotham Awards
NOMINATED, Best Foreign Film, Independent Spirit Awards
NOMINATED, Best Foreign Language Film, Golden Globes

Directed by Sebastián Silva
Starring Catalina Saavedra and Claudia Celedon

A dark comedy. Raquel has worked as a maid in the same household for 23 years, taking care of the family’s four kids. Now, realizing that the older ones are growing up and no longer need her, she starts to develop headaches and reaches a breaking point. The mother of the household, Pilar, wants to make Raquel’s life easier by hiring some more help, but Raquel sabotages her actions every step of the way.

Kudos to director Silva and actress Catalina Saavedra for maintaining feelings of sympathy for the character Raquel despite the despicable things she does.

94 min. Unrated. Adult themes and some nudity.

For more info:
The Maid

The Violin-DVD Review *** 04/10/2011

Posted by Films to consider in Black & white, Drama, Mexican/Spanish language film, Movies, Spanish language film.
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The Violin (Mexican/Spanish) 2005
El violin

Winner, Un Certain Regard, Best Actor (Tavira), Cannes Film Festival
Winner, Best Ibero-American Film, Miami International Film Festival
Winner, Horizon Award, Special Mention, San Sebastian International Film Festival
Winner, Skyy Prize, Audience Award, San Francisco Film Festival
Official Selection, Toronto International Film Festival

From Film Movement; directed by Francisco Vargas

Starring Angel Tavira, Gerardo Taracena, Mario Garibaldi, Dagoberto Gama, and Fermin Martinez

An amazing film, beautifully filmed in black and white, about a farm family involved in the guerilla movement against their oppressive government. Don Plutarco (Tavira) is the grandfather of the family, who suffered torture and maiming but still continues to play traditional music. He teaches his son Genaro (Taracena) and grandson Lucio (Garibaldi) to do the same. When their village is overrun by soldiers, Plutarco takes it upon himself to save the stash of ammunition hidden on his farm.

The late Don Angel Tavira himself came from a long line of musicians and taught others to play traditional tunes. Maimed at a young age, he played the violin with the bow tied to the stump of his right arm. He was not trained as an actor before his performance in The Violin and won the award for best actor at Cannes. Read more about him here.

98 min. Unrated. Violence and adult themes.

For more info:
The Violin

The Window-DVD Review *** 03/07/2011

Posted by Films to consider in Argentinian/Spanish language film, Light Drama, Movies, Spanish language film.
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The Window (Argentinian/Spanish) 2008
La Ventana

Official Selection, Sarasota Film Festival; Toronto International Film Festival; Palm Springs International Film Festival
Winner, Fipresci Prize, Valladolid Film Festival

From Film Movement; directed by Carlos Sorin
Starring Antonio Laretta

A lovely film that covers the last day of an old man’s life in a tender and often humorous way. Surrounded by caring household staff and a visiting piano tuner, eighty-year-old Antonio (Laretta) knows his time draws near. His memories of a babysitter that he had when he was a young boy makes the idea of his passing seem magical.

As Antonio waits for a visit from his estranged son and his girlfriend, his bedroom window draws him outside to enjoy the beauty of the land one last time.

Actor Antonio Laretta is better known as a Uruguayan writer and scriptwriter. I thought he was outstanding in this role.

77 min. Unrated.

For more info:
The Window