Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Time Machine

If you want to know how life was before the internet, you don't really need to travel through time or even go any further than last Sunday's Goya film awards in Madrid. For the president of the Spanish film academy the web is still a thing of the future, not of the present. Just as well for him, then, that one of the first acts of the Rajoy government was to approve the regulation of the anti piracy Ley Sinde. Spain's cinema industry can still continue to regard the internet as the enemy, rather than as a business opportunity.

The trouble is that the new government may not be helpful in other ways. There were several references in the ceremony to the important role played by the national television company, RTVE, in the production of many Spanish films. That could well be about to change, the state broadcaster is in deep financial trouble with the future of many of its flagship programmes in doubt. The Partido Popular has little sympathy for the Spanish film industry in general, some remarks in speeches at the ceremony about not forgetting the victims of Franco's repression or in defence of public education were unlikely to go down well with the PP politicians present.

As for the awards themselves, the big winner this year was Enrique Urbizu's thriller No habrá paz para los malvados (No Rest for the Wicked). The result was a little unexpected, this year's ceremony was supposed to be one of reconciliation between the academy and Pedro Almodóvar, the latter having decided to show up this time in the expectation that someone would scream "Peeedrrro" from the stage when the award for the best film was handed out. But La piel que habito (The Skin I Live In) didn't do particularly well as some of the major awards went to Urbizu's film.

No habrá paz para los malvados is one of the few nominated films that I've managed to get to see this time. It's not a bad film, and Jose Coronado was a worthy winner of the best actor award for his portrayal of the corrupt cop attempting to deal with the only living witness of his crimes. But in general I found the film a bit difficult to follow, nor is the idea behind it so original for it to stand out. I can't compare it with the Almodóvar film, because the accumulated prejudices of the past few years (with the sole exception of Volver) mean that Pedro's latest release usually ends up near the bottom of my list of films to see.

Yesterday I went to see Iciar Bollaín's latest film, Katmandú un espejo en el cielo. I like most of her work but had lower expectations of this story concerning the attempts of a Catalan teacher to set up a school in Kathmandu for poor children from the shanty towns. Inspired by, rather than directly based on, a true story perhaps it was the trailer that led me not to expect too much. Looking like a mixture of Himalayan travelogue with a bit of social content mixed in. You shouldn't rely too much on trailers, and the film is significantly better than that image although still lacking for me the impact of other Bollaín productions like También la lluvia or Te doy mis ojos.


Ferrolano said...

A better film review than most of the professional ones that I have read.

Graeme said...

Thanks Ferrolano. BTW, I went to see another of the nominated films that failed to win many prizes yesterday; Blackthorn. I thoroughly enjoyed it, more than No Rest for the Wicked, and I can't understand why it did so badly in the Spanish box office.