Despite, or perhaps because of the recession, Spain seems to have rediscovered its creative mojo. In 10,000KM, director Carlos Marques-Marcet has taken two charismatic characters, and prised them apart through work, with him (David Verdaguer) stuck in Barcelona and her (Natalia Tena of Game of Thrones fame) dispatched to Los Angeles. Then he tests the sturdiness of their relationship over the distance between them. Can Skype, texts, email and Google maps keep them together? Presented in diary form, with inevitable ups and downs through their constant technological interaction, this is really an old-fashioned love story.
Using flowers rather than technology to communicate, directors Jon Garano and Jose Mari Goenaga have arranged the set-pieces of LOREAK around three women looking for answers and closure. Ane is going through the menopause and is lifted when she starts receiving mysterious flowers. Lourdes is dismayed by the roadside flowers placed where her late husband’s car went off the road. Tere is missing her son terribly. And all their lives and stories become intertwined in this deeply poignant narrative.
Emilio Martinez-Lazaro’s broad comedy SPANISH AFFAIR (right) may be the highest-grossing Spanish film ever, but the best way to think of it is Gavin & Stacey, not set in Essex and Wales, but in Andalusia and the Basque country. Playing on cultural differences and misunderstandings this is a life-changing journey for simple, lovelorn Rafa, who leaves his beloved Seville and heads north in search of the tough Basque girl, Amaia, he’s fallen for. Will she soften towards him as he flounders like a fish out of water? She’s been left high and dry, and the plot thickens when Rafa must pretend to be her betrothed to impress her father, who has been away at sea for six years. But can Rafa pull off acting as a charismatic local rebel when his knowledge of Basque customs and language is non-existent?
Based on Gioacchino Criaco’s book, Anime Nere, BLACK SOULS (right) is director Francesco Munzi’s story of three very different brothers with inescapable ties to the ‘ndrangheta. Most of the action takes place in rural Calabria and the town of Africo, and Munzi mixes local residents with actors to get an authentic feel for his thriller. Two of the brothers have moved up in the world, thanks to their mafia business connections, and money can buy them almost anything, including flashy watches, cars and strippers, but they’re still happy to nick a couple of goats from a farm. Bitter resentment and vengeance seem to be passing down the generations, despite one brother trying to go straight. And even though fraternal loyalty and betrayal are constant themes, and they’re all armed to the teeth, the film’s ending is still shocking.
THE DINNER, from director Ivan de Matteo, is based on Herman Koch’s bestselling novel, and centres around a huge moral dilemma that faces two privileged families – with a similar feel to the play and film (God of) Carnage. It all starts with a road rage incident that becomes fatal, with one doctor brother caring for the kid who was shot by the same cop that his lawyer brother is defending. They almost come to blows over this, but soon after, when their respective, privileged teenage kids seem to have committed a crime as they return from a party, and are recorded on poor quality CCTV, we are forced to consider what we might do in their shoes. Can you defend the indefensible? Does family loyalty trump integrity? Should a terrible crime be covered up if there are no witnesses? Can justice ever really prevail? Again, be prepared for a startling ending.
Eugene Green’s LA SAPIENZA focuses on two pairs of characters: a married couple and an ambitious young man and his sickly sister who they meet on holiday at the Italian lakes, and take under their wings. The husband is an architect unwilling to inflict any more human misery with compromised buildings, and his wife is a psychoanalyst trying to unpick human misery. Spanning issues from love and spirituality to the power of architecture, Green poses big questions about knowledge and truth by splitting up his couples and setting each of them on a potentially painful journey of self discovery.
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