Ramón's outspokenness wins the interest -- and the affections -- of a pair of women: Julia (Belén Rueda), the terminally ill lawyer who helps Ramón build his case, and Rosa (Lola Dueñas), a single mother drawn to Ramón out of loneliness and her admiration for his strength. But while the sensuous Julia, herself coping with illness, fully sympathizes with Ramón 's cause, the feisty Rosa sulks and frets whenever Ramón so much as breathes a word of his intentions.
Continue reading: The Sea Inside Review
Carlos "Santa" Santamaría (Javier Bardem), José Suárez (Luis Tosar), and Paulino "Lino" Ribas Casado (José Ángel Egido) congregate in fellow ex-worker Rico's (Joaquín Climent) makeshift bar for what might be group therapy among fellow ex-boatyard workers approaching 50 but with zero bank balances. They commiserate together, share woes and complaints, and listen to each other's rage at the circumstances of their discharge from the port city's now-defunct shipyard. It's a self-support group for the disenfranchised that occasionally becomes a "gang that couldn't shoot straight" for much needed comic relief. But there's not enough of that for this film to go the way of The Full Monty, which it may have aspired to.
Continue reading: Mondays In The Sun Review
After creating from scratch two breathtaking metaphysical thrillers in a row -- "Open Your Eyes" and "The Others") -- writer, director and composer Alejandro Amenábar's return to the big screen is rather disappointing: "The Sea Inside" is little more than a routine disease-of-the-week biopic.
Javier Bardem ("Before Night Falls") gives a tour-de-force performance as quadriplegic Ramón Sampedro, who, after 30 years in bed, wishes to die with dignity, but the film never shows any indignity. In fact, his life looks pretty good under the circumstances. He has beautiful women -- a lawyer (Belén Rueda) and a local woman (Lola Dueñas) who was inspired by Ramon's television appearance -- fawning over him, and a book of his poetry has just been published.
Amenábar manages one great scene in which Sampedro argues with a wheelchair bound priest, sending a messenger up and down the stairs with sacrilegious pronouncements. Otherwise the movie wishes only to make a soapbox stand about whether or not humans have the right to decide our own deaths, and never comes to terms with the how or why. It's very simple and streamlined, and all that's left is Bardem's bid for Oscar glory, emoting from his bed using only his eyes and his voice.
Continue reading: "The Sea Inside" ("mar Adentro") Review
Inspired by real laid-off shipyard workers desperately clinging to a sense of personal dignity while entering their third year on the government dole, the melancholy Spanish import "Mondays in the Sun" is thick with powerful, understated, deeply empathetic performances -- and it needs them. It's hard to feel sorry for a bunch of welfare cases who sit around drinking and barely even trying to find new jobs.
Perhaps not being familiar with the particulars of the Spanish economy provides a major disadvantage to fully understanding the characters that populate this film, which swept the 2002 Goya awards. But writer-director Fernando Leon de Aranoa doesn't seem to provide any reason beyond pure frustration and lack of momentum for his handful of sad sack laborers to spend much of their lives in a bar.
Bearded, burly, somewhat unscrupulous but full of pride and wasted intelligence, Santa (played by the impeccably poignant Javier Bardem) is a cauldron of quietly boiling indignation who exhausts his energy tilting against the system and denying his own accountability. In the course of the movie, he applies for not one job, yet he continues to fight a vandalism charge years after smashing up a streetlight during a strike -- on the grounds that the violence was the company's fault for enraging him.
Continue reading: Mondays In The Sun Review
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After creating from scratch two breathtaking metaphysical thrillers in a row -- "Open Your Eyes"...
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