Amores Perros

Dir: Alejandro González Iñárritu. 2000. Starring: E. Echevarría,G. García Bernal, G. Toledo. Spanish. Cine en Espanol.

Alejandro González Iñárritu may be best known for his film Babel (2006) or 21 Grams (2003), but his first feature film, Amores Perros, shows his ability in weaving stories together through the commonality of human suffering. Made in his home country, Mexico, the film is set in Mexico City, featuring three stories that are connected by a single car crash. Within these stories contain intensified, passionate characters with tales of love, loss, and dogs.

In the first, Octavio becomes involved with the dog-fighting business in order to make money so he can run away with his sister-in-law Susana and begin a new life. This plan falls out of reach as tragedy pursues, and the story ends with more than the loss of dreams.

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Posted by:
Tiffany Huang
Apr 26, 2008 5:24pm

Exterminating Angel

Dir: Luis Buñuel, 1962. Starring: Silvia Pinal, Enrique Rambal, José Baviera. Spanish. Cine en Espanol.

In 1962, only a year after his hugely successful and critically acclaimed breakout film, Viridiana, Luis Bunuel created Exterminating Angel. It was fairly well received and admired in the initial release, but it would take over a decade of films to follow in its wake for Exterminating Angel to be considered one of Bunuel’s best films and as a masterpiece of surrealist cinema.

The story is simple:  guests of an upper-class dinner party find themselves unable to leave. Why? Well, no one can figure that out. More importantly, no one is willing to make an attempt to figure it out. And from this absurd circumstance, Bunuel weaves together a story filled with biting satire, debasing interactions, and a subtly repetitive time structure. In typical Bunuel fashion, humor and sadness occupy the same emotional terrain, feeding off one another in the same scene, creating a tense and anomalous atmosphere as the movie progresses.

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Posted by:
Joey Izzo
Apr 6, 2009 6:37pm

Lolo

Dir: Francisco Athié, 1993. Starring: Roberto Sosa, Lucha Villa, Esperanza Mozo. Cine en Español.

This is the kind of movie that was made with various limitations that must be taken into account. I’ll lay all the flaws out on the line, and in the end you can be the judge. The lighting is horrendous, but due to the grizzly subject matter it works. I can’t imagine what kind of equipment they used, but many of the scenes are shot at night, which normally boosts a film’s budget by several degrees. The camera work, however, is awesome. I’m not sure how that’s possible, but I’d love to see how they crafted the various overhead shots and rotational pans, similar to some popular French films and 360 shots that Spike Lee used in the '90s. You could say that the darkness provides a good storytelling device for this film, seeing as how it has some very violent scenes, but there were honestly some shots where I could hardly see the characters or follow what was going on. The music is interestingly different, spanning from Mexican hard rock/punk to boleros, but it does lack proper placement and flow. The film is also fairly short and resolved with a bit of haste.

Now, if the above would not deter you from taking a look, I think you’d be as pleased with the film as I was. Instead of writing this review in a regular sense, I'd like to add a bit of analysis, which will better explain why I like it so much. Without spoiling the entire plot for you - or the ending - I'd say that if you are annoyed by religious overtones and metaphors in films, this might not be a movie you'd like. My next statement might not be as easily swallowed by some people, but certain elements in the film's plot and emotive efforts reminds me of two of my favorite movies, Pixote and Mulholland Drive. This is not a comparison, but simply an automatic mental note. It reminds me of the slum-element and young protagonist of Pixote (along with the poor production); but with Mulholland Drive, the resemblance for me is in the importance of a key object. In David Lynch's movie, it is the blue box and key that holds the fate for the lead characters and alters their past and future. In a similar sense, a golden watch and a pair of red sneakers are two simple props from which all the events in this movie can be pivoted.

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Posted by:
Edythe Smith
Sep 7, 2010 9:23pm

Timecrimes

Dir: Nacho Vigalondo, 2007. Starring: Karra Elejalde, Candela Fernández, Bárbara Goenaga, Nacho Vigalondo. Cine en Espanol.

Timecrimes is sort of like a darker version of that "Treehouse of Horror" episode of The Simpsons where Homer's toaster becomes a time machine and he keeps screwing up the future by altering the past. It starts off with a similarly dimwitted protagonist and comic dialogue, anyway, but then unexpectedly evolves into an effectively puzzling thriller that, once you think you know where it's going, manages to twist its way into a place you never could have predicted, but which only makes sense. BloodyDisgusting.com calls it, "One of the best time travel movies of all time," and I'll agree in that it's one of the most uniquely satisfying and intelligent I've ever seen.

Héctor and Clara just moved into a new home privately located in a scenic forest in Spain, and Héctor begins noticing some bizarre signs no less than a few seconds into the film. The phone rings but no one appears to be on the other end. He calls the number back but only gets a voicemail asking for a security code. "How can anyone know this number?" he asks his wife. "We just moved in." Later, while lounging on the front lawn and taking in views of the forest with his binoculars, he sees a woman stripping off her clothes. Venturing into the woods for a closer look, Héctor is suddenly attacked by a scissor-wielding maniac covered in bloody bandages. He makes a run for it, eventually stumbling on a high-tech looking science lab. He finds a radio and calls for help, where a scientist named El Joven guides him to a safer part of the building. But what Héctor finds determines his fate in ways he, and I doubt any audience watching, could predict.

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Posted by:
Paul Losada
Dec 27, 2010 6:12pm

Volver

Dir: Pedro Almodovar. 2007. Starring: Penelope Cruz, Carmen Maura, Lola Duenas, Yohana Cobo. Spanish. Comedy/Drama.

Warm and wonderful, Pedro Almodovar's Volver resonates with his favorite subjects:  women, secrets and the transformative power of love. Framed with light suspense, rich imagery and sensuous color are amazing performances by the entire cast, most notably a voluptuous Penelope Cruz. Her courageous and spirited Raimunda is a struggling mother stuck in a bad marriage and bravely fulfilling the role of matriarch, not only to her sister and daughter but to a community of women loosely tied by tradition and committed through love. When her mother reappears as a ghost, Raimunda's life gets infinitely more complicated.

Violence and religious mysticism are catalysts and cards to the emotional evolution of all the characters but are hardly the point. As secrets are unveiled, the once shelled lives become full again with redemption and understanding and life seems to right itself, as if waiting for the perfect miracle. The weak become strong, the strong - weak, youth gains wisdom and age renews its joy for life.

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Posted by:
Jessica Kaman
Jan 28, 2008 3:29pm
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