Mini-Review: Penumbra

Introduction

This is a post that is a repurposing of an old-school Mini-Review Round-Up post. As stated here I am essentially done with running multi-film review posts. Each film deserves its own review. Therefore I will repost, and at times add to, old reviews periodically. Enjoy!

Penumbra

What Penumbra attempts to do is something I can definitely appreciate. How it goes about trying to do it is what I really have a problem with. It overplays its hand in some regards and is a bit too broad in the portrayal of its protagonist, her dialogue a bit too blunt; not to mention the scenes that set-up the gotcha ending that only play more annoyingly once everything is revealed. It’s an interesting examination of the Spanish-Argentine dynamic but many other recent co-productions layer horror, colonial antagonism and modern Latin America’s socioeconomic climate better than this does, combine that with its failings as a horror film and it becomes quite bothersome indeed.

4/10

Advertisements

Review: Cannibal

Set in Granada Cannibal follows a renowned tailor living a double-life. In the his second life he preys and feeds on women, literally. What disrupts his depraved routine is when Nina comes into his life. She introduces feelings of guilt and genuine affection into his life, and from thereon conflicts ensue.

With a set-up such as that it can be difficult to see how a film of this kind can be easily watchable. While the facts and some of the events of film are undoubtedly disturbing, it’s the way they are introduced and addressed that makes it clear from the outset the approach here will be different than most. There have been famous cinematic cannibals, of course, perhaps the most notable being Hannibal Lecter. Yet as good as The Silence of the Lambs is there is intended shock elements there, and even more so in some of the sequels.

The film opens softly, relatively speaking. After having the facts established as non-grotesquely as possible, we watch much of his routine and how this psychotic is part of his commonplace. The editing of said sequence as well as the framing builds the world effectively. The effect redoubles because of how it works around the viscera. As such it’s not daring you to look away, but daring you instead to continue to look. As intimated, the ritual is not the focus of the film.

The film seems like it’ll play out like a revved up version of Jeanne Dielman, but rather than a slow slip from a solitary, maniacal existence it’s a spiral to real consequences as Nina arrives not knowing him, and seeking answers. As such, starting in the second act it patterns itself like a more traditional suspense film. Due to the mitigating factors of this story, and how it starts, you know it cannot end in a very conventional way, and it doesn’t.

Another thing that lowers the tenor is the fact that there are narrative ellipses. This means that the film will not dwell on the facts, instead we know what happens, and much as it does in real life, we don’t know where it’s happening or how, or maybe not even that it is happening just that it does.

Where the simulacrum attempted in this film really hits home is in the performance of Antonio de la Torre as Carlos, who convincingly portrays the type who many would describe as charming and affable if they met him in a business setting, whom apartment-dwellers would say “nice, but kept mostly to himself” if news reporters came asking about him; and Olimpia Melinte, who is perhaps more compelling because as both Nina and her sister Alexandra she adds to the commentary of the film. Melinte, like her characters is Romanian but working in Spain. She not only performs with equal comfort in either language, but also renders these two sisters as separate, yet clearly related despite having little time to work with one of them.

Cannibal works because it departs from an expected course, revels in ambivalence and discomfort; and eschews histrionics. The close of the film is jaw-dropping due to one revelation, if not the overall outcome. Fans of suspense or horror and art house films may find something to like here. Those who appreciate both are likely the ideal target for this film. For any of the above it is worth seeking out. It is available on DVD now from Film Movement.

7/10

61 Days of Halloween – Films to Keep You Awake: A Real Friend (2006)

Introduction

For an introduction to the concept of 61 Days of Halloween, as well as a list of previously featured titles please go here.

Films to Keep You Awake: A Real Friend

In continuing to chronicle the titles in this series of horror films we come upon perhaps the most unfortunate title of all of them just because of how misguided certain efforts within the film are. One staple of horror filmmaking is the teaser scene. It’s a scene that’s an early instant jolt to get the audience in the mood, and also give them an early scare prior to some time spent character building. What some films do (like a few in this series) is have the connection to the main thrust of the plot be nebulous. The problem with that in this case is that the connection is practically trivial as the character involved ends up being almost a non-factor.

I, for one, love developing character when there are unique or interesting aspects that were previously unknown being revealed. This film dabbles in a bit of redundancy establishing certain things about Estrella repeatedly: she doesn’t interact, she likes to read, she has an over-active imagination are all facts that are beaten to death in this tale. Due to the fact that she likes reading, horror fiction mainly, and likes watching horror movies; it’s a license for the film to fawn over influential horror figures, but A Real Friend drowns in influence. Not just influence but a grab-bag of them: a Leatherface-like character, zombies, vampires and such. That can work, see The Monster Squad, but the film has other tricks up it’s sleeve that make it harder to tolerate.

As I’ve stated, films on the shorter side need to do a little more work if they also want to have a slower burn; the shorter a movie is the quicker patience runs thin. Yet, while facts about characters are known in some cases motivation remains a mystery for it: you wonder what the man Estrella refers to as “Vampire” wants, what anyone wants really.

There are more serious, more detrimental missteps later on that detract from the fact that we eventually do get fairly satisfactory answers to questions asked for far too long in a film of this length. There are laughable moments, ones where you step out of it because things are just unbelievable; unconscionable lapses in judgment and eye-roll worthy extraneous twists. It finds one way after another to be worse in act three. If you’re a completist, watch this title. You may like it better than I did. However, if you’re a bit more discerning pass it by.

61 Days of Halloween – Films to Keep You Awake: Blame (2006)

Introduction

For an Introduction to the concept of 61 Days of Halloween, and a list of previously featured films, please go here.

Blame

This installment of the series is offered by Narciso Ibáñez Serrador. The only other film I’ve seen of his is Who Can Kill a Child?, the original not the remake, which I enjoyed a bit more. Although many years later it’s interesting to see a filmmaker only twice and at two very different stages of their career, especially when some of the themes that are being explored are similar. This title is the most recent of his listed on the IMDb. While there are some interesting aspects to the film, and some of it is well-handled; I can’t help but feel it shares a lot of the difficulties the earlier film works: namely there are some dubious decisions by characters and some head-scratching moments.

However, what this film has going for it is that its tale is, eventually, a more layered one and touches upon themes too often avoided in American horror films. However, there does come a point in a film where it can be said you’ve been playing coy for too long and are starting to hurt the end result. The delayed nature of the reveals adds a sudden choppiness to the reveals and a very quick escalation with minimal time to absorb the impact of what is seen.

There is certainly a deftness of hand in how this tale is wrought, but it ultimately encounters some issues that titles truncated to have shorter running times do; inasmuch as I feel this film would’ve benefitted from being expounded upon such that the overall flow of it was more consistent. As it stands there are interesting scenes a themes, as well as effective sequences, that don’t gel into a completely successful whole.

61 Days of Halloween: Films to Keep You Awake: Spectre (2006)

Introduction

For an introduction to the concept of 61 Days of Halloween and a list of films previously feature go here.

Films to Keep You Awake: Spectre (2006)

Part of why I write about movies, and why I’m not so hesitant to revisit them at times, is that my memory can be a bit dodgy at times. When thinking back on these films it was the one further down the list of Favorite Older Films, A Christmas Tale, that stood out more, but here’s what I wrote:

I embrace any and all horror series like Six Films to Keep You Awake that round up genre directors from certain countries to tell quick effective tales. It’s not dissimilar to Door into Darkness or Masters of Horror, this edition highlights the uniquely opaque, intricate and dramatic flair that Spain has for the genre. There will be another tale from the series on this list. This is the one that separates the die hards from the casual admirers.

Part of my wanting to write about them here is first to highlight them, as I acquired them on DVD, but also to disentangle them. In trying to surmise a series of films, a much more limited one than say Masters of Horror, generalizing and grouping can do a disservice to the individual titles.

This is title really toys with chronology and with perception, its jumps through time in a character-based way and what’s best about it is its myopic focus and view of events. For only through entering the protagonist’s perception can we glimpse Moira in a different manner than the entirety of the town does. When it’s boiled down what occurs is fairly simple but the jarring, disorienting moments, the paradoxical ones, and the way in which the narrative unfolds are what make it so fascinating to watch.

Tales of obsession, be them adolescent or adult, can be hard to convey, especially in the horror genre, but I think this one sells it very well.

Another reason to revisit titles at times it to see if you over-estimated or under-estimated something the first time around. Complete reversals of opinion are rare, as they should be, but re-evaluations are good. I will see if I tweeted about another title in the series but I may have given that one the short-shrift just slightly. With this one I agree with the assessment that this is not necessarily the title that will make one gravitate to Spanish horror, but those who already like it may come to appreciate it.

The Problems of Limiting Foreign Film Submissions (Part 1 of 2)

In my previous post, I wrote about how I would propose to alter the Foreign Language Film submission process. I am working backwards as now, in this post, I will address, with a little more support to back up my own hypotheses the issues that would be addressed if you were to allow select countries multiple submissions.

Essentially, the goal is as follows:

If you are a nation like France or Italy with a long and rich cinematic tradition, the selection process can prove volatile and complex. France, for example, submitted Of Gods and Men a few years ago. Its being snubbed, while an Algerian film with a similar subject, Outside the Law, making the shortlist caused quite a furor. Now, this is not to say that France being given more submissions would’ve gotten it to the shortlist, but being limited to one film invariably creates questions and doubts. Both nations made films about the colonial era, one was chosen and one wasn’t. Aside from the complaints about which nation a production really pertains to, it’s messy. Just search debates about selections and you will find trades reporting on them annually.

Now, I will grant that a multiple submission policy is altruism, and being realistic these things would likely still have happened but if France were afforded a handful of submissions, these incidents would likely have been lessened.

Erika Bók in The Turin Horse (Cinema Guild)

Taking any political extremism out of the equation, multiple nominees for some countries would also make some nations more inclined to take a chance. When Hungary submitted The Turin Horse last year, it was speculated in trades to have a slim chance due to the composition of the viewership and the nature of the film, and sure enough it wasn’t shortlisted. Not that Hungary has been especially prolific lately, and their last nomination was in 1988, but it’s a good example of a country that could’ve used an extra spot to pick what it thought was the best artistic choice and then gamble on a popular pick and/or one likely to find favor with American viewers.

Greece’s selection of Dogtooth a few years ago was seen as some as being silly, almost frivolous. Just it being described as gutsy made me want to see it. They were lucky in actually earning a nomination. I enjoyed it, but was equally surprised by its selection once I saw it.

With just one film allotted per country, as fair as that may seem, too many ulterior factors come into play besides is this really the best film, and some of the factors I suspected were echoed by others I asked. Other factors I hadn’t considered, that can be found mirrored in American films jockeying for Oscar nominations, also came to the fore.

The questions I typically asked were as follows:

At times, does the reputation, or lack thereof, of a director influence the selection?

At times, does politics, whether real or film, play a part?

At times, do films more likely to impress Oscar voters get selected over more artistic films?

Did you see (Title of film submitted by your country)?

If you saw it, did you like it?

Why do you think (Name of country) selected (Title of Film) Deserved it? Oscar-Friendliness? Both? Neither?

Here are some of the findings from Brazilians I asked, more nations will follow in the next part.

Brazil

With regards to Brazil, this is the nation where I will have the widest range of opinions. Aside from being a dual citizen, a majority of my family lives in Brazil so I was able to receive the highest number of responses here also.

When The Hollywood Reporter wrote-up the announcement they correctly cited O Palhaço (The Clown) as a domestic box-office success. Over 1.4 million tickets sold. That’s accurate, as ticket sales are the measure (especially for domestic films) and in Brazil that’s a fairly high total. I take no issue at face value with sending the domestic box office champion as your nominee. There are stories like wins for domestic films in Spain and Norway that are most definitely positives. Hollywood proliferates globally and for indigenous cinemas to be successful at home is very important.

The complications of selecting the box-office champion of the year arise when you have mixed reactions to the film in general. First, I will recuse myself from weighing in on the film itself (O Palhaço) as I have yet to see it. However, I admit I was a bit surprised by this choice as I had yet to hear of it. I saw one Brazilian title this year, which I thought was great, and heard of another one. Both made a decent splash either on the festival circuit or in the international market. With regards to the plot when I read of it, it seemed like a less actually political selection, but did entertainment politics factor? What besides the box office could’ve influenced this selection?

So what did my family and friends say in response to my inquiries regarding O Palhaço? They start off about as negative as a film receiving such an honor can get: “My husband saw it and thought it was horrible! According to him the movie must’ve been picked for a lack of options!” The lack of options isn’t something that’s necessarily supportable by empirical evidence. In 2012 two films either solely produced or co-produced by Brazil appeared in Berlin, 5 films either solely produced or co-produced appeared in the Cannes programs and 2 either solely or co-produced appeared at Sundance, so there were other Brazilian films with festival pedigree. Not to mention the fact, that having eligible films doesn’t always lead to a submission, as was evidenced by Luxembourg passing.

As I got more and more comments, the initial reaction that people were “Sharply divided” proved true. However, in Brazil’s case one of my suppositions seems to have played out, and that’s the reputation of the director. With O Palhaço the director is lead actor Selton Melo. It’s a passion project, those with negative views of the film argue it’s a “commercial for him.” So box office appeal and the fact that a respected actor took on a project does buoy the Oscar hopes of this film, and even those who like Melo fell on the side of those less than enthused by the film, and some even underwhelmed by this particular turn. However, Melo’s status only seems to be growing in Brazil, as he is also taking on a Brazilian-produced HBO series.

The clout, or lack thereof, of some distributors within Brazil was also reported to me as a factor that could keep more deserving films from being considered. This seems not too foreign when anyone who pays attention to Oscar races here knows how much money is involved in campaigning, and how certain directors, producers, and studio heads become favorites. It was also indicated to me that candidacy for the Brazilian submission may not be a cheap thing to make yourself eligible for, which wouldn’t surprise me either, but that is an issue that filters down to the national level and is beyond the purview of the Academy or any foreign body. However, the fact remains that many would attribute most submissions as being decisions that disregard aesthetics and if the film also happens to be good it’s a bonus, but it’s a powerplay. One response pronounced all that quite explicitly and even concluded in English stating “It’s all about business!”

Perhaps the most intriguing response I got was the one that indicated it’d be impossible to remove politics entirely since you’re asking countries to submit films, and I will grant that. It’s practically impossible to expunge when other productions and/or world events will cause protests. The nation submitting likely consciously or unconsciously affects voters, even if its just that a certain viewer has more of an affinity with one national cinema or another. What the ultimate goal of this plan, that I admit will likely never, ever occur, is to encourage more risk from national film governing bodies. Perhaps that encouragement would lead to more aesthetically forward choices that will get rewarded by the votership, or better yet bring the film to new audiences.

Now, according to my idealistic designs, Brazil as a prior multiple-nominee would receive three submissions. If that were the case, perhaps they’d be so inspired to take a chance on one of the remaining selections on something a little more free of influence. To paraphrase John Lennon, I may be dreaming but I know I’m not alone in hoping something like that would occur.

Mini-Review Round-Up September 2012

I had quite a review drought to end 2011 so I think the remedy for this kind of post would be to have the post be cumulative monthly. Therefore, after each qualifying film a short write-up will be added to the monthly post. The mini-reviews will be used to discuss Netflix and other home video screenings. Theatrical releases will get full reviews, or another kind of write-up as per my recent shift in focus.

For a guide to what scores mean go here.

Note: Apologies for this post being late. Also, I am weighing what a cut-off should be for films that have has no US release date past. As for now they are all eligible. Some films viewed last month are listed here instead.

[REC] 3: Genesis

This is a prime example of having to go where the movie takes you and not judging it based on what you wanted or expected it to be. I have already expressed how much I love what [REC] 2 did for that series. When you hear that this one is going to be a prequel you assume, “Great, it’ll be about the patient zero.” The connection is more tenuous than that. However, what you do get in this [REC] tale is humor, great horror, action, effects and gore and more theological blanks filled in than before. Whether or not part 4 can, and will, be the conclusion this series needs/deserves remains to be seen, but this film is what it wants to be: a very strong, fairly stand-alone piece that contributes to a larger narrative.

8/10

Spud

This is a South African film of some acclaim, which I sought a foreign region DVD of since its US distribution is more doubtful the further from its initial domestic release we get. Spud was nominated for six South African Film and Television Awards (the foreign award is something I may touch upon in November) and an adaptation of a famous novel series. The film stars Troye Sivan (most well known from YouTube or Wolverine) and John Cleese. The film sets as a backdrop the momentous events of 1990 and the release of Nelson Mandela, but what it focuses mainly on is a funny, occasionally touching, tale that’s a dawn of awareness, and coming out of one’s shell. It’s an appropriately episodic tale, that moves well for the most part and features great, surprising and fitting songs as well.

7/10

V/H/S

Yes, any anthology film by its very nature will have its ups and downs. You as a viewer will connect more with one piece or another, one section or another will be more well-executed or intriguing, especially if there are different writer(s) and/or director(s) handling each portion. This year I’ve taken to watching a lot more anthologies, which proliferate in horror more so than most genres. It has moments which are few and far between, set-ups are too long making it structurally askew in segments and in toto, acting is scarce; the frame of the story is fairly poor. This dereliction of pace and structure makes the two hour total running time seem nearly double that.

For a frame of reference here are brief comparisons to other anthologies so you know where I’m coming from: From a Whisper to a Scream has a stand-out segment, this does not; Creepshow has a brilliant frame, this does not. V/H/S seems to seek a unified tonality and aesthetic that it doesn’t quite achieve, Tales from the Hood does. Theatre Bizarre is wildly inconsistent, this is fairly consistent in its terribleness.

1/10

Amors Baller

Perhaps the most interesting thing about Amors Baller, aside from the way that it handles the Swedish/Norwiegian dynamic, is that it puts football (soccer) out front as the key to a boy (Kåre Hedebrant, Let the Right One In) winning over his new crush. While the junior tournament plays a major part, it’s a setting that doesn’t take up as much screentime and the results doesn’t factor in as much towards the end as you might expect. It ends up being more about relationships and friendship. It’s a funny, heartfelt and quick-moving film.

7/10

The Hidden Face

What is most interesting about The Hidden Face is what it does structurally. There’s an inventiveness to a surprising revelation made that allows for it to play with perspective and narrative point-of-view in very creative ways. There is a bit of steam it loses in trying to amplify every single odd moment that needs clarifying after the break, but it remains a very haunting, odd and twisted horror tale. It’s one that is definitely worth seeking out.

7/10

Nimmermeer

One of my first thoughts upon seeing Nimmermeer was how is Toke Constantin Hebbeln, the director of this film, a name I only now have just heard. Now, granted since this 2006 hour-long film he’s made other shorts and just last month released a feature called Shores of Hope in Germany. Regardless, it’s not only the narrative but the cinematography, the staging and the penetrating emotion of this film, which oozes magical realism, that really makes it standout. It’s told like a fairy tale replete with narration but in a context that is very real and immediate. Odd things happen and are not explained away. The story is what it is and it’s at the service of its protagonist and its audience in dramatically, beautifully rendering its message. Leonard Proxauf, who later starred in The White Ribbon, is great in this film.

10/10

Penumbra

What Penumbra attempts to do is something I can definitely appreciate. How it goes about trying to do it is what I really have a problem with. It overplays its hand in some regards and is a bit too broad in the portrayal of its protagonist, her dialogue a bit too blunt; not to mention the scenes that set-up the gotcha ending that only play more annoyingly once everything is revealed. It’s an interesting examination of the Spanish-Argentine dynamic but many other recent co-productions layer horror, colonial antagonism and modern Latin America’s socioeconomic climate better than this does, combine that with its failings as a horror film and it becomes quite bothersome indeed.

4/10

Vorstadtkrokodile 2 and Vorstadtkrokodile 3: Freunde Fur Immer

Perhaps one of the most interesting things that one can start learning or realizing when you obtain films from other regions is that various film industries world-wide are not too different from Hollywood, for better and worse. What we in the US get in art houses are the more erudite, obviously artistic films from overseas. If you look at trades when they report on international bureaucratic/business-related controversies art versus commerce comes up. Essentially, we get the independents from overseas. Next time you watch a foreign film pay attention to the credits and see how many production companies, governmental agency logos and other corporate logos pop up in the opening credits. But the major studios have presences overseas, and even without that each country has its own brand of genre cinema, which is generally made for domestic consumption. Subtitles aren’t found on all foreign-made DVDs and many times only languages of neighboring nations apply.

However, globalization is here and many films are seeking to attain some popularity in the home video market abroad by including more and more subtitles.

Which brings me around to the Vorstadtkrokodile movies. Or as they’re called in English The Crocodiles.

This version is a recent German trilogy based on a popular children’s novel, which I believe was even translated to English at one point. Not unlike American trilogies this series raced to the multiplexes with releases in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Such that the second installment feels a little flimsy and all over the place. There’s some cool fantasy elements, some good jokes but the characters seem to be in stasis. Also similar to American movies, a musician-turned-actor is in the mix; Fabi Halbig drummer from the popular band Killerpilze was recruited to play one of the main roles. Also, not unlike American films Nick Romeo Reimann, one of the latter additions to Die Wilden Kerle (The Wild Soccer Bunch) goes immediately from that series and takes the lead in this film.

Now, all that commentary may sound cynical but they’re just facts. What occurs in the third film is a very pleasant surprise. The story is far more unified. It starts light and frivolous and gets serious. There’s great comic relief and it connects back to the first film. It closes a circle and consciously concludes the series. Just taking a few series by example at the very least these series come fast and furious and know when it’s time to close. It’s a warm and heartfelt conclusion that takes some outlandish plotlines to real and honest places emotionally and give the trilogy great closure.

Reimann, now moving on to other projects, seems destined to continue finding work and may even transition seamlessly into adult roles. It’s a bit early yet, but considering his steady participation in two series, totaling six films, with increased emotional demands in each successive film; drawing a parallel between him and Daniel Radcliffe is not far-fetched.

4/10 and 8/10

Pan Negro

Francesc Colomer in Black Bread (Massa d’Or Produccions) Spains Official Selection not yet distributed in the US.

This was a film that featured previously on The Movie Rat during last year’s post about the Oscar Foreign Film Submission Process. It was a gutsy choice to submit this film over the likes of Almodovar’s The Skin I Live In, but I applaud gutsy choices such as Dogtooth. That and the fact that Villaronga is a director I’ve seen and like previously made me intrigued by this film.

One thing that’s a double-edged sword about it being Spain’s submission last year is its indigenous nature. It’s a film set in the the Catalan region and deals greatly with the Spanish Civil War and the aftermath thereof. It layers in horror elements, legend, drama, politics and coming-of-age with deft and not much bluntness. One’s familiarity with the vaguest aspects of the conflict will be aided greatly in viewing it.

The story divides itself neatly and the section whose title alludes to a later scene is the strongest.

7/10

Asterix and the Vikings

Asterix and the Vikings (M6 Films)

This is a movie that I have a rather unusual relationship with. I actually didn’t know about this fairly recent animated rendition of Asterix until I was in Orlando earlier this year. In Epcot, there was a book of the film and I got it. The book renders the movie fairly well and considering that I as a fan of Asterix was fairly disappointed in the live-action version I was excited.

What it really goes to show is that putting production elements in place: music, dialogue, voice actors, the different animation techniques and effects employed made the movie so much more immersive than I imagined. From the book it seemed like standard fare: fun bordering on cute. The film that the book represents is a very fully realized version of the tale and is highly recommended to fans of this beloved character.

10/10

Rewind Review- Little Indi

As those who know me, and if such a person exists, cyberstalk me, know I created this blog after writing on another site, which shall remain nameless, for a while. The point is, I have material sitting around waiting to be re-used on occasion I will re-post them here. Some of those articles or reviews may have been extemporaneous at the time but are slightly random now, hence the new title and little intro, regardless enjoy!

Little Indi is a film that is playing as part of a new series called New Spanish Cinema at the Film Society at Lincoln Center. It tells the tale of a boy named Arnau, nicknamed “Little Indian” for reasons unknown to us (one can assume it’s based on his appearance but it is not confirmed), who is desperately trying to earn himself money to pay a lawyer to assist his mom who is incarcerated.

Most of the quiet, sparsely-dialogued film involves Arnau, played by Marc Soto, looking for extra work, going to a dog track or debating whether to sell his prize-winning goldfinch. He is mostly on his own and in many ways caught between adulthood and childhood. One minute he is pounding the backroads seeking more hours of work anywhere he can find them, but he is tending to a wounded fox the next.

The scoring of this film is very distinctive and it never overpowers or sentimentalizes anything but it does help push the story about and also keeps the correct middling tone. A tone believed to be desired because there is little seen of this incarcerated mother, she is seen briefly and it is understood. It is in essence a very observational film. It’s a window into a world.

There are many hurdles and many disappointments which take this film to its conclusion. The ending is open so divulging too many plot details would allow one to know exactly how it stays open.
It is a film that ultimately stays visual so bear with it and eventually you will understand what competition he enters the finch into and to an extent what the judging criteria is. Other things within the film which might also seem foreign but eventually do come to make sense.

Marc Soto is described in the writings accompanying this film as a newcomer, however, the pedigree of a film actor can be gauged more so when they say nothing than when they speak and Soto’s pedigree seems to belie his experience. Words are the domain of the theatre actor; a film actor has to be able to hold our interest in quiet moments of which this film has many. Will we watch him behave and not just speak? Yes. Do you see him thinking? For as much interaction as Soto has yes there is definitely potential for a new star of Spanish cinema to have been born in this part.

When minimalism in a minimal environment occurs it can be much easier to accept. When minimalism occurs in an urban/suburban environment, as it does in this film, it is asking for a bit more patience from its audience. Does the film reward the audience for its patience? Ultimately, I believe that answer to be yes. It’s not a tremendous reward but it is also not a shortchanging experience. It is the type of film that may even go up a rating point or two upon a second viewing as you examine how it works but it does involve you in the avenues that Arnau investigates to try and earn more money and also involves you in how he tries to go about rectifying his missteps.

Also, if you are a fan of Spanish cinema you might recognize the cameo by Agustí Villaronga, director of such disturbing thrillers as El Mar and In A Glass Cage, as the mysterious The Man in White Shoes. Ultimately, it is an enjoyable film that this critic will want to re-examine.

6/10