Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Goya For Malamadre

If I haven't posted much about cinema in the last year it's not because I don't want to, but because I spent most of it working in Germany and missed a good percentage of the Spanish releases. I'm catching up a bit now, but didn't see several of the nominees for the prizes in this year's Goya ceremony. I missed part of the ceremony too, the effects of my Sunday walk and possibly the wine I had with my dinner meant that I fell asleep for the middle section. Maybe it doesn't help that the presenter of the show always seems to be in need of a good scriptwriter, despite having the highly rated Andreu Buenafuente in charge of proceedings this year.

In any case I felt happy with the fact that Daniel Monzon's Celda 211 took the highest number of awards. It was closely followed by Agora, which is one of the films I haven't seen, although Alejandro Amenábar's film seemed to do better in those categories where you would expect such a high budget production to do well. The success of the more international Agora also meant that we heard more English from the stage than is normal, as many of those involved in the film were not Spanish speakers. This, and the inclusion of nominations for El Secreto de Sus Ojos, provoked a bit of debate in South of Watford's home about what actually counts to make something a Spanish film as far as the Goya's are concerned? It seems that just having Spanish production money now makes it qualify.

Celda 211 is not a great film, but it is a very effective thriller set around a mutiny in a Spanish prison. It also features one of the best character performances of recent years in Spanish cinema, and Luis Tosar fully deserved his best actor award for the portrayal of Malamadre, the leader of the mutiny. The film also featured a significant change of character for Antonio Resines, normally seen playing much lighter roles than that of a sadistic prison officer. El Secreto de Sus Ojos is also one of the films I have enjoyed most in the last few months, and had it been a genuinely Spanish film it would have probably taken more prizes. Presumably it was the distance between the funding and where the fim was made that meant the award for the best "new" actress went to Soledad Villamil, who has some 20 years of film, television and theatre work behind her. At least Buenafuente confirmed during the show that my problem of understanding the first 20 minutes of any Argentinian film is not just because I'm not a native Spanish speaker.

The biggest headlines of the night were almost captured by the surprise appearance of Pedro Almodóvar, who has boycotted the Spanish academy in recent years for what many believe to be the serious offence of not giving him enough prizes. It seems he was persuaded to appear by Alex de la Iglesia, and he handed over the award for best film to Monzón. Not everybody is overwhelmed by this apparent reconciliation, Santiago Segura suggested that Almodóvar should feel a bit ashamed for his slightly petulant attitude in recent years. He has a point.


Pueblo girl said...

Santiago Segura seems curiously affected by fame. Compared to his peers.
Must go to the cinema more often...

Lee said...

I think Almodovar also should be called out on not supporting the Spanish film industry in general. He's all about him. He's well known outside the country, and I think he could do something to help get good Spanish films more distribution and recognition.

And kudos to Santiago Segura for being one of the few Spanish actors who has the guts not to kiss Almodovar's ass.

ejh said...

Bloody luvvy parade, I thought. It went on for long enough on the news. God knows how anybody sat through the whole thing.