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Red Ink (2000)
On journalism, ambition, youth, love, life, death and... Lima
21 June 2001
This is a film by Lombardi who is the only film director from Peru to be internationally recognized at this moment. He achieved a great success bringing 'La Ciudad y los Perros' ( The City and the dogs, by Vargas Llosa) to the screen in mid 1980's. The story is about the life in a Peruvian military school where teenagers are trained to be the tough one. Needless to say it's full of violence, but also very interesting. From then on he continued to film stories on Lima's life (or Peru), usually from Peruvian novels. In 1994 shot 'Sin compasión' based upon Dostoievski's 'Crime and Punishment' but it lacked the strength that his latest film is full of. 'Tinta roja' begins with a couple of young journalist diplomates who had just finished College and need to practise to fulfill the requirements to work. They're Nadia (Lucía Jiménez, see her in 'Silencio Roto' or 'Bajo la piel') and Alfonso (Giovanni Ciccia). Both of them want to be in Social or Shows or Cultural department but when they meet the Director of the newspaper (which is 100% sensationalist) she gets the first election while he must go to the 'red reports' that's about blood (accidents, killings, suicides, kidnappings and everything related to passion and human most primitive feelings). Faúndez (Gianfranco Brero) is the old, cynical, intelligent journalist that'll take care of Alfonso. Alfonso doesn't like him and Faúndez doesn't like him either. Each one has a reason. Alfonso wants to be a writer (say a novelist) and has a kind of ' manual for young writers ' by Vargas Llosa always at hand, but he studied Journalism because of his mother and aunt (his father gave them up when he was a little child) and there's no place to learn how to be a novelist. So he prefers Society news as an easier way to accomplish the practices. Faúndez doesn't like Alfonso for they same reasons, the young one doesn't want to be a journalist and least of all a reporter on blood events. They start working, wandering around Lima in a white van with a driver (Van Gogh, Carlos Gassols) that has a quote for any situation and young Escalona (Fele Martínez, see him in Thesis)the photographer, almost mute. After some days of work the conflict between Alfonso and Faúndez fades away (sort of) and the gap between Alfonso and her girlfriend (not as much as he'd like to) Nadia grows. And the story goes but here I stop 'cos you must find out the film for yourself.

Some comments:

The story is full of humour (dialogues are great), which can make the facts bearable (and even more believable).If it wasn't this way you could get tired of crimes and deaths and lose some interest on the plot. Anyway it's more the kind of humour of 'Amores perros' than Tarantino's.One of the funniest scenes is when a gorgeous girl (yvonne Frayssinet, Roxana) brought by Faúndez to make him forget Nadia, rubs his crotch with her barefoot (pink nails) while answering 'I'm a podologist' to the question 'What do you work in? (all this happens sitting on a table in a bar).

The cast is perfect, specially Gianfranco Brero and Carlos Gassols.

I love Lima's (or Peruvian) accent! Even beggars talk like princes.

In spite of the names all actors and actresses are from Peru (save for Fele Martínez and Lucía Jiménez, oth from Spain) as long as I know.

I strongly recommend this film (even if you can't enjoy the original dialogues) for both the argument, actors work and Lombardi's direction. The whole thing is a highly interesting depiction on Peru nowadays.

I give it a 8/10.
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9/10
All you wanted to know about Maquis and you weren't told about...
31 May 2001
Don't miss it.

First, I don't know if it's a honour to be the first one to make any statement on that film or just a shame not a person among those who've already seen it (only in Spain I think) made up its mind and write on it. For those who lack some knowledge on Spanish Civil War and Post-War period: some historical facts

Spanish War began 18th July 1936 when the African troops raised against Spanish Republican Gov. Their leader was Franco, who gained his reputation in 1920's colonial war's in Morocco. The Legion and it's leaders were demoralized after what they thought was a shameful withdrawal from Northern Africa. Spain retained two cities (Ceuta and Melilla), and Sidi Ifni (Western Sahara, which was occupied by Morocco after 'Green March' in 1974-75, and this time with a languishing Franco!). Spain became the ground to proof German modern war techniques sustained on persistent plane bombing ('Stukas' made their debut destroying cities loyal to Republic, remember Picasso's 'Gernica'? this Basque village with strong political and historical significance was demolished completely, not a building was standing after the German Luftwafe finished its work). As ever, some countries remained neutral ( mainly France, UK, USA)if it is possible to be so, while others (say Germany and Italy) played an important role in war. From neutral countries came lots (60-70 thousand) of men not only British, American and French but Italians, Germans, Canadians and from all around Europe. But these fighters weren't as well equipped and trained as German and Italian troops that were sent by Mussolini and Hitler. And what about USSR? They didn't mind much, just asked for money to send some weapons and ammunition. No troops. So the Republican side (which had in it's power the main cities and industrial regions in the beginning) couldn't beat the right army. This happened April 1st 1939. If war is thought to be a hard experience, what about some post-war periods? The victors revenged for years against those people belonging to republican families. 10 years after war ended still were thousands in prison. No amnesty. Some people didn't assume that the Coup had won, and they thought that if they resisted until Democratic countries beat Fascism in Europe, they would be helped dethrone Franco's dictatorship. But of course, they were wrong. Democratic leaders were afraid that Spain would became a communist country in line with centre-eastern Europe soviets satellites, so they, again, preferred a right wing government. The guerrillas were called 'Maquis' which is a French word meaning Bush. These commandos existed from 1939 (end of the war) to early 1950's! And is reckoned to be about 5000 men fighting in the countryside (mainly in northern regions) and a much bigger number of people supporting them. The most of the Maquis fighters are died but they were granted recently some political and historical recognition in Spanish Parliament.

The Film. The story runs in a little village in Navarra (close to French border). The main characters are the women ones' the men being just as egoistic as to think only of them and their ideas and to fight for them bravely but not caring for the consequences, at least not always. Quick summary of strong points: The screenplay, it's wonderfully written by also director Montxo Armendariz. He's from the land where it's shot and he's lived the ambient he describes. Lot's of good personages and sequences. Dialogs are also great, mordacious when it comes and also tender, even funny. The main plot line is the Maquis resistance, but there's a lot more underlying like self respect, dignity, love and courage in bad times. It's about people who fall in love like the two youngsters: (Manuel-Juan Diego Botto and Lucía-Lucía Jiménez) the blacksmith whose father is a Maquis and the Inn's owner's (Teresa-Mercedes Sampietro) niece. A story of a mature love affair between Teresa and Don Hilario (a former teacher due to its leftist ideals) that lasts instead of her marriage to a horrible husband. The love of parents for children, like the two old that live in the mountains hoping to see sometime their already died son ( their cabin is like a haven for Maquis were they can get some food, once in a while the supplier brings them a letter written on its own handwriting supposing to be from their son who was shot down time ago). The love too of a Guardia's wife whose always afraid for his life.

The actors and actresses: great, but especially the women. Teresa, Lucía, Lola, Juana, Julia. Are as good when they're leading the scene in close-ups as when they're just filling the screen, standing and hearing the others. They know how to suffer, they're so accustomed to suffer for others... and yet they're still human, deeply human. In war times women have to work twice.

Location, Photography, Score: Perfect. I think the music's a must buy.

Direction: Armendariz's best work. He deserves a 10.If scenes work perfectly and performances are full of shades who's to blame?

There's some flavour of 'film noir' in the final scene when Lucía's leaving the Inn and turns to Lola and says 'Siempre me quedará la duda de si fuiste tu quién les delató' ('I'll always doubt whether it was you that spoke against them'), while Lola's cleaning some glasses and doesn't even utter a word.

I gave it 9/10 (I'm waiting for some years to give it the 10 I think it deserves). BTW: the screenplay's already been published.
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a tragic story: one of the best 90's films
3 May 2001
I think this is one of the best 90's films. Ripstein's masterpiece ( I'm sure by now he knows he want make any film that equals this) is based upon a novel by Nobel awarded Naguib Mafouz. Another Mexican whose story comes from Mafouz is 'El callejón de los milagros' by Jorge Fons. The story develops the 'fall of middle class family' with as much intensity as possible. Good cast. Julieta Egurrola is great in the character of Ignacia Botero (mother of the family). In this film Ripstein catches every shade of the story and is more content than other films. The only objection I had is the last sequence of the film, which is wonderfully shot and edited but maybe not according to the general tone of the rest. I forgot to mention there's even a flair of humour.
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Yesterday (1985)
An original argument turned a good film
3 May 2001
Well, what could I say to introduce this film to those who haven't seen it. First, I've watched this film and loved it for the last 13 years. I saw it first on a night pass in Spanish TV and at that time the only thing I knew about it was that it had been in San Sebastian's Film Festival in 1985 ( just a comment this festival is one of the oldest and some of Hitchcock's were shown there for the first time, like Vertigo)and a line or two about the argument.I just couldn't believe it. A film from Poland telling the story of four Grammar School mates that love Beatles and hold together to play their music! And not just this, they let their hair grow to their shoulders wear their black suits (it's mid 60's) and called themselves John, Paul, Ringo and George. One of them (John or Paul, I can't remember because I've not seen it since 1992) lives with his grandmother who's as pessimist and feared of god that has a coffin prepared in case she suddenly died. This one is in love with a lovely blonde girl that goes to a girls College. I'm afraid this commentary is going too long so I congratulate the happy few that know and love Yesterday.

P.S. Sometimes I feel sad when searching on this Data Base (which is great, thanks a lot)and see that films that I appreciate aren't voted but by a few dozens especially when not being from US or shot in English, even films by great and supposedly widely known directors. I feel happy anytime I see a Spanish film commented by people from abroad and this is why I've decided to written this comment on Yesterday.
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10/10
One of the best Buñuel's films even if it's not complete
5 April 2001
This film is maybe one of the best films that Buñuel ever made although not among the most popular. Why? Because the production was shot faster than fast and the money ran out so the film couldn't complete the screenplay and art direction is poor. Besides there is the cultural fact, you need some religious background (Catholic if possible) to understand the irony of the film and the references. Humour differs from drama mainly in it's strong connection with time and environment while the latter is more transcultural and timeless. Buñuel had a deep religious knowledge although he lacked faith. The reason why the rock scene is so is that Buñuel didn't like rock. Sometimes people prefer Buñuel's French films because they look more glamorous, the caracters are more sophisticated and wearing richer clothes. Anyway I think the core of his filmography are his 'hispanic' films and the first ones ('l'age d'or', 'le chien andalou', Él, Los Olvidados, Viridiana, Tristana,...).
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