Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Cinema....The Best Film Is One You May Never See

I wonder how many readers of this blog have seen the film that took the prizes for best film and best director in this year’s Goyas ceremony; the Spanish equivalent of the Oscars. I certainly haven’t seen La Soledad, and according to something I read yesterday the film only gathered 41,000 spectators on what must have been a brief release period.

This year’s ceremony seemed to be going pretty much as predicted by the time I stopped watching some time after midnight on Sunday night. Most of the prizes were being split between El Orfanato and Las Trece Rosas, and it seemed a fairly safe bet at the time that one of those two films would get the award for best film. The ceremony is dragged out as much as possible and the “comic” filling leaves a lot to be desired, which accounts for my decision not to keep watching until the end.

Now my reference to the small numbers of spectators who have seen La Soledad is not intended to suggest that the film doesn’t deserve the prizes it won. I didn’t see the film when it came out, although I hope to do so with its now inevitable re-release. In fact neither of the main candidates for prizes were films that really impressed me. Las Trece Rosas was a good film, but not as good as it could have been. El Orfanato almost made it to the Oscars, and was an impressive debut feature length film from director Juan Antonio Bayona. However, it trod a similar path, and not quite as effectively, as that taken a few years ago by Alejandro Amenabar’s Los Otros. Too much reliance on creaking doors to create suspense.

It was good to see some recognition for the quieter, more intimate, cinema of Siete Mesas de Billar Francés, which brought a deserved best actress award for Maribel Verdú. Sadly, Iciar Bollain’s Mataharis was not rewarded at all, because for me it was one of the best Spanish films of the year. Sadder still was the fact that last year produced so few strong candidates for recognition, it was one of the weakest years I can remember for Spanish cinema and we can only hope it’s not an indication of things to come.

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