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"For the life of me I will never understand why Audra McDonald isn't bigger outside of Broadway." - Brian

"I will add to that list Irfhan Khan; he gets roles steadily, but in my mind he should be a household name." -Rebecca

"I'll also echo that Rosemarie DeWitt is one of the most talented working actresses, full stop. There is no other Best Supporting Actress of 2008." - Hayden


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Entries in Spain (25)

Saturday
Dec162017

The 2017 Animated Contenders: "Birdboy: The Forgotten Children"

by Tim Brayton

For the finale of our five-part tour of some of the more obscure films competing for the Best Animated Feature Oscar, we turn to a film that premiered over two years ago, but has only just opened in the U.S. this very weekend: the Spanish psychological horror cartoon Birdboy: The Forgotten Chidlren. The film is based on the comic Psiconautas by Alberto Vázquez, who co-writes and co-directs with Pedro Rivero; it's the duo's second film based on these characters, following the 2011 short Birdman, which serves as the new feature's backstory (the short is available online).

The basic hook here couldn't be any more direct or nasty-minded. This is a silly talking animal film warped into a portrait of the world as bleak, hopeless hell. "Psychological horror," I called it, because I'd be hard pressed to name any better category, but that's not really enough to communicate the sheer, visceral nastiness of this film. It's a mere 76 minutes long, and even that's almost too long to spend with the film's altogether putrescent depiction of a world that has died, with the survivors still tottering around in the corpse of that world, forced to confront some truly cruel moments. Also, they're fuzzy critters.

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Aug192017

New Oscar Chart ~ Foreign Hopefuls including Spain

Last month we shared speculation about what countries Argentina, Chile, Denmark, and The Czech Republic among others might submit to the Oscars this years. And we'll soon have more charts up. Spain narrowed down their finalists to three which is worth noting. The most successful countries in terms of Oscar in the later portions of the alphabet are Spain (19 nominations and 4 wins), Sweden (14 nominations and 3 wins) and Poland (10 nominations and 1 win). If you include the former Soviet Union stats with Russia's stats since 1992, they're approximately tied with Sweden.

Maribel Verdú in "Abracadabra" which is a finalist for Spain

Spain is currently in their longest dry spell of all time in this Oscar category (their last nominee The Sea Inside, which won, was 13 whole years ago). They will select their submission on September 7th but they've narrowed down their choice to the following three pictures: 

  • 1898: Our Last Men in the Philippines [This film is available to stream on Netflix]
    Luis Tosar and Javier Guteirrez star in Salvador Calvo's war epic about soldiers who held a town square under seige for almost a year in the Philippines even after Spain had surrended and The Philippines had become a free country.
  • Summer 1993 This is the first narrative feature from director Carla Simón who has previously made shorts and documentaries. It's in the Catalan language and about a six-year-old girl trying to adapt to a new life with her uncle after her mother's death. Simón won two prizes at Berlinale for this debut.
  • Abracadabra - My favorite Spanish submission of the past ten years was the great Snow White themed black and white silent Blancanieves.  The director (Pablo Berger) and star (Maribel Verdú) of that memorable entry (which inexplicably didn't make the finals) reunite for a colorful film which the director describes as a "paella of genres" but is at least partially a comedy about a woman who thinks her husband is possessed. Antonio de la Torre (Volver, The Last Circus) co-stars

I couldn't tell you which they'll choose as there's a definite pro for each, statistically. Consider: War films are often submitted to Oscar. Childhood-focused dramas are often beloved in this category. Countries generally like to return to directors they've submitted before. 

The foreign submission charts will be updated this weekend.

Friday
Jul282017

Venice Lineup 2017: mother!, Bardem & Cruz, and more...

Fall Film Festival season is rapidly approaching. TIFF let us know their "special presentations" with many more announcements to come and now Venice (which actually starts sooner at the tail end of August) has announced its whole lineup. The films, including out of competition reunions of two iconic screen couples (Javier Bardem & Penélope Cruz / Jane Fonda & Robert Redford), are after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Monday
May152017

Pedro Party: What Have I Done To Deserve This? & Volver

It's a Pedro Party. We're celebrating Almodóvar each day as we count down to Cannes 2017. Here's Daniel Crooke.

Women hold the universe together according to the peacock-feathered films of Pedro Almodóvar, and never more earthily or elegant than in his mirrored portraits of multitasking matriarchs putting out the fires of the men around them: 1984’s What Have I Done To Deserve This? and 2006’s Volver. Both domestic dramas with a hint of the supernatural, they showcase a pair of imperfect pragmatists – respectively, Gloria (Carmen Maura) and Raimunda (Penelope Cruz) – caught in the crucible of their everyday lives with no signs of slowing down, spinning an interminable amount of plates only to wash them straight after so they can serve their families dinner on time. While their inattentive lazybones husbands bark orders from the couch and fail to see the strength beyond their busts – no matter, as they’ll soon both be dead– Gloria and Raimunda are the breadwinners, juggling odd jobs and managing the affairs of family and friends to simply keep the lights on.

Strikingly feminist with an emphasis on the superhuman virtues of intergenerational sisterhood, What Have I Done To Deserve This? and Volver display two working women hustling on the verge with no time for a nervous breakdown...

Click to read more ...

Monday
May152017

The Furniture: Decorating Obsession in "The Skin I Live In"

It's a Pedro Party! Our Almodóvar week is extending a couple of days. You can click on the images from this production design feature to see them in magnified detail. Here's Daniel Walber...

El Cigarral is a mysterious, hidden estate that lurks on the outskirts of Toledo, Spain. Its gates are perpetually locked and its secrets are not easily pried loose. Its owner, Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas), keeps the outside world at a distance.

That said, more people manage to break in than he might like. It’s inevitable, at least in movies like these. Almodovar’s The Skin I Live In is part of a long tradition that winds its way from The Island of Lost Souls through Eyes Without a Face. And this house, which seems to be accessible only under cover of night or in disguise, is among the most dramatically conceived in the entire genre...

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Friday
May122017

Pedro Party: All About My Mother

It's a Pedro Party all week. Here's Lynn Lee on her introduction to Almodóvar...


To all actresses who have played actresses.  To all women who act.  To men who act and become women.  To all the people who want to be mothers.  To my mother.”

All About My Mother was the first Almodovar film I ever saw, and as it happens, I saw it with my own mother.  I don’t remember why I picked it for us to see together.  It certainly wasn’t because of the title or because I thought it would be something she’d particularly like.  In fact, if I’d thought about it more, I might have been anxious that she would find it too outré.  Or for that matter, that I would; as both a movie lover and a young adult, I was just beginning to learn what was out there and how far it stretched beyond my own personal experience.

To our credit, or rather to Almodovar’s, there was no reason for such trepidation...

Click to read more ...