Archive for Cine en espanol

Movie Review: Take My Eyes/To Doy Mis Ojos

te-doy-mis-ojos2.jpg Director: Icíar Bollaín

Spanish release: 2003

U.S. release: 2006 w/ limited distribution

I was really afraid of watching this movie. Because of its very serious subject matter, i had not asked any of my friends to watch it with me, expecting replies of “No.” I was afraid of it. A mass of nerves, i rented it on Netflix and held onto it for over a 4 weeks before forcing myself to go through with it.

(Deep inhale and exhale)

Te Doy Mis Ojos is a drama focused on the struggles of two working class people of Toledo, Spain, but the setting could be easily changed with the story still essentially intact. Pilar fights against those voices that keep her tied to her husband, Antonio: her mother’s sense that all women must have a man, her own emotional pattern of accepting Antonio’s beatings and yelling, and society’s definition that women < men. Antonio struggles with a sense of his own worthlessness as a salesperson in a department store, and more importantly, as the less appreciated son in an emotionally callous family.

We witness how Antonio’s inability to understand and express his fear and pain are the cause for his possessiveness of Pilar, and how this leads to his attempts to maintain control of her through violence.te-doy-mis-ojos1.jpg

To a different degree, we also witness Pilar’s journey. While in the midst of preparing for her sister’s wedding, Pilar recollects how she met Antonio, how he proposed to her, and her own expectation of happiness. And we see her finding meaning and building relationships beyond the walls of her house as she learns to become a guide at an art museum.

… continue reading this entry.

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Movie Review: El Calentito

El Calentito

Las Sioux

Director: Chus Gutierrez

Starring: Veronica Sanchez, Juan Sanz, Lluvia Rojo

Spanish release: 2005

I saw this movie at San Francisco’s Frameline last week at the Castro Theater. Frameline is San Francisco’s annual lesbian, gay, queer and transgender film festival. (There’s hardly anything addressing a bisexual audience.) An organ player rose up from a pit in front of the screen and entertained the audience just before the showing.

I don’t go to the theater much. Tickets are expensive and i feel bad when i see a movie that sucks. Movies that i do go to el cine for: those with great visuals and/or when music is an important part of the story.

It’s 1981 and nightclub scene in Spain is shaking as people find themselves freer to express their individuality, a quality long suppressed under Franco’s dictatorship. El Calentito is one site of rebellion, where youth party to punk rock, score hits, and well, score. But not Sara. She lies plastered on the floor of the restroom after witnessing her boyfriend making out with another woman. Rescued by Carmen, one of Las Siux, an all-women punk rock band one singer short of a trio, Sara is convinced to fill in at a record label meeting. You pretty much can guess what happens for the rest of the movie – except for some characters’ reactions to martial law when military fascists stage a coup.

El Calentito reminds me of an Almodóvar movie, but with fewer plot twists. Chatty transexuals? Check. Lesbian/gay side character? Check. Controversial Catholic sexual imagery? Check. Linear plot, unimaginative lyrics, a few tired metaphors; but historically interesting and very high energy, El Calentito is a good popcorn sort of movie. It just might have you jumping up and shouting “¡Libertad!”