Daniel Gimenez Cacho

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Blancanieves Review


Essential

This exquisite Spanish take on the Snow White fairy tale is in a different league from Hollywood's two recent attempts to retell the story: it's clever, artistic and emotionally thrilling. Aside from comparisons to Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman, it's also likely to be measured against The Artist, since it's shot as a black and white silent movie. But forget all of those! This film stands on its own as a cinematic experience so wonderfully involving that we never want it to end.

It's set in 1910 Seville, where top bullfighter Antonio (Gimenez Cacho) is badly injured in the ring, shocking his glamorous singer wife (Cuesta) into early labour. But when she dies in childbirth, the now paralysed Antonio can't bear to look at his newborn daughter Carmen, so she's sent to live with her grandmother (Molina). Years later, Carmen (played by Oria then Garcia) finally gets the chance to live with her father, but she's badly mistreated by his new wife Encarna (Verdu), his former nurse. Abandoned in the woods, Carmen meets six dwarf bullfighters who are amazed at her natural skills in the ring. So they name her Blancanieves (which means Snow White) and make her the seventh member of their travelling troupe.

There's no magic in this version of the story, which is grounded in earthy settings and historical authenticity. Instead of a talking mirror, Encarna discovers Carmen's beauty as her crowd-pleasing performances knock Encarna off the front pages of the tabloids. Enraged, she plots to get rid of Carmen by handing her a poisoned apple in a scene fraught with both joy and unbearable tension. The film is packed with these kinds of mixed emotions, which add to both the timelessness of the tale and the deeply personal resonance.

Continue reading: Blancanieves Review

How I Spent My Summer Vacation [aka: Get The Gringo] Review


Weak
With echoes of everything from Mad Max to Payback, this grungy thriller rampages through Mel Gibson's back catalogue. But all of the swaggering attitude is just too much for a film that has absolutely no point to it.

After a breathless car chase on the US-Mexico border, an outlaw (Gibson) is thrown into a Tijuana prison known as El Pueblito, which is more like a run-down favela than a jail. His criminal mind immediately kicks into gear as he finds ways to survive by causing as much mayhem as possible. Soon he befriends a 10-year-old kid (Hernandez) whose mother (Heredia) is being exploited by the power-mad top-dog prisoner Javi (Gimenez Cacho). And our unnamed protagonist will need to use all of his wits to get out of here alive.

Continue reading: How I Spent My Summer Vacation [aka: Get The Gringo] Review

We Are What We Are [Somos Lo Que Hay] Review


Very Good
For a thriller about cannibals, this Mexican film is more of an unsettlingly violent drama than an all-out horror movie. It's often very grisly, but has a fine sense of visual style and an extremely black streak of comedy.When their father dies, three late-teen children aren't sure how to help their mother Patricia (Beato). The eldest, Alfredo (Barreiro) thinks she can take care of herself, as he doesn't want to inherit the provider role. And we understand why, since the job entails bringing people home for dinner. As in eating them. Hothead brother Julian (Chavez) has a bit more skill at this job, but sister Sabina (Gaitan) insists that it's Alfredo's inherited role.

Meanwhile, a couple of cops are closing in.Filmmaker Grau hooks us with quiet, invitingly bleak imagery and bone-dry humour. The grisliness is also pretty full-on from the start, but what makes it mesmerising is the precise camera work, which playfully uses reflections, colours, depth of field, focus and offbeat angles to keep us on our toes. And the sound mix is just as intriguing. All of this is in service of a story so thoroughly unhinged that we can't avert our gaze.The constant suspense is also completely unpredictable. We never know what's going to happen within a scene, mainly because Alfredo is so jumpy and Julian so pushy. And Patricia and Sabina are forces to reckon with as well. The cast members invest these people not only with jagged personalities but also layers of internal emotions that continually catch us off guard (Patricia doesn't want to eat prostitutes; Julian won't eat a gay man). The brotherly rivalry and camaraderie are both intense, as is the sense that the whole family is on a kind of adventure after the death of their father.As the story progresses it gets increasingly blunt and brutal. But then, this family is going to have to be brazen if it's going to survive. As the action builds to the frenzied climax, we actually begin to hope that they'll survive to carry on with their private rituals. And the fact that the filmmakers can make us feel this is seriously impressive.

Bad Education Review


Extraordinary
Pedro Almodóvar's films have always oozed adoration for tawdry movie melodrama, from the Telemundo-on-cocaine gaudiness of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown to the sweet, sentimental "women's picture" romance of The Flower of My Secret. And the auteur's latest, Bad Education, may be his defining statement on the fundamental relationship between ordinary life and the illusions projected large in dark, mysterious movie houses. A fantasia of Almodóvar's trademark hang-ups that nonetheless surpasses his previous outings in scope, structure, and heart, the movie is a marvelous, noir-inspired meditation on love, sex, and identity that pulses with florid passion. It may be the best film of the year.

Almodóvar's narrative is a marvel of temporal-shifting beauty, seamlessly moving back and forth between the film's "present" of 1988, the immediate past, and a short story written by Angel (Gael García Bernal) which segues among 1988, 1977, and the 1960s while featuring its own story-within-a-story. While such convoluted chronological fracturing is initially confusing, the ultimate effect of the director's time-hopping plot construction - especially considering that Bernal tackles multiple, intimately related roles - is that one quickly finds the boundaries between reality and fiction melting away. Life and art symbiotically imitate each other in Almodóvar's colorful, hot-blooded world, with no discussion of the one complete without mention of the other. And with the story of Angel and Enrique, boyhood friends at Catholic school who are reunited years later and become involved in a semi-autobiographical movie about their youth, the relationship between fiction and reality becomes so blurred that, by film's end, there's no way to distinguish between the two.

Continue reading: Bad Education Review

Sólo Con Tu Pareja Review


Good
A decade-plus before he wowed the international scene with the sex tragicomedy Y Tu Mamá También, Alfonso Cuarón rolled out the fun, yet less accomplished Sólo con tu pareja (literally "Alone with your pair").

Daniel Giménez Cacho is Tómas Tómas, a kind of scrawny, lazy, and loathsome advertising copywriter who nonetheless has hundreds of sexual exploits leaving notches in his belt. He's a rare kind of cad that juggles two women during one night in apartments across the hall from each other (naturally he's locked out of both) while also carefully avoiding actually doing his job (one of his conquests comes up with his latest slogan, for jalepeno peppers, for him).

Continue reading: Sólo Con Tu Pareja Review

Sólo Con Tu Pareja Review


Good
A decade-plus before he wowed the international scene with the sex tragicomedy Y Tu Mamá También, Alfonso Cuarón rolled out the fun, yet less accomplished Sólo con tu pareja (literally "Alone with your pair").

Daniel Giménez Cacho is Tómas Tómas, a kind of scrawny, lazy, and loathsome advertising copywriter who nonetheless has hundreds of sexual exploits leaving notches in his belt. He's a rare kind of cad that juggles two women during one night in apartments across the hall from each other (naturally he's locked out of both) while also carefully avoiding actually doing his job (one of his conquests comes up with his latest slogan, for jalepeno peppers, for him).

Continue reading: Sólo Con Tu Pareja Review

Nicotina Review


Good
This case of one thing leading to another and nobody getting what they want is sprinkled with bad guys you don't much like, bad guys you do like, and a few pissy people you'd like to see taken out or taken away. Nicotina is a comedy of errors that Peter Sellers, if he were around, might find amusing.

Computer hacker Lolo (Diego Luna) finds himself in the center of a scam to trade Swiss bank account data for diamonds with Svóboda (Norman Sotolongo), an overstuffed and bearded Russian mobster with a nasty disposition. Lolo's pals Nene and Tomson (Lucas Crespi and Jésus Ochoa) are the scammers who set up the deal and are depending on Lolo to burn a CD disc with the bank info. To the point of annoyance, they continue to haggle over the lethal effects of cigarettes in order to provide the film its title.

Continue reading: Nicotina Review

Deep Crimson Review


Good
Humanity has been attempting to explain evil since we climbed out of the sooty swamp water. From Balinese woodcarvings of gruesome crimes to modern 35mm Hollywood blockbusters about serial killers, we have a fascination with the darker side of life. It goes beyond myth, beyond religion and encompasses something innately human. Perhaps it has evolved from an animal instinct for protecting territory or securing a mate, whatever the impetus it has become a rampaging ship detached from its moorings. Violence assails out daily lives, and it's not just that the news is more prevalent than ever.

Many times violence is linked with politics, war, famine, natural disaster but sometimes it comes from nowhere and for no reason at all. This violence, the unexpected, the absurd, is most shocking. In her critical book Eichmann in Jerusalem, Hannah Arendt outlined her thesis of the "banality of evil" to explain how the Nazis could murder 6 million Jews. Arndt believed that the evil of the Nazis was a banality to suffering and death - the failure of humanity to buck the system, to challenge immorality. The excuse, "everyone else was doing it," made the crimes all the more hideous.

Continue reading: Deep Crimson Review

Bad Education Review


Extraordinary
Pedro Almodóvar's films have always oozed adoration for tawdry movie melodrama, from the Telemundo-on-cocaine gaudiness of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown to the sweet, sentimental "women's picture" romance of The Flower of My Secret. And the auteur's latest, Bad Education, may be his defining statement on the fundamental relationship between ordinary life and the illusions projected large in dark, mysterious movie houses. A fantasia of Almodóvar's trademark hang-ups that nonetheless surpasses his previous outings in scope, structure, and heart, the movie is a marvelous, noir-inspired meditation on love, sex, and identity that pulses with florid passion. It may be the best film of the year.

Almodóvar's narrative is a marvel of temporal-shifting beauty, seamlessly moving back and forth between the film's "present" of 1988, the immediate past, and a short story written by Angel (Gael García Bernal) which segues among 1988, 1977, and the 1960s while featuring its own story-within-a-story. While such convoluted chronological fracturing is initially confusing, the ultimate effect of the director's time-hopping plot construction - especially considering that Bernal tackles multiple, intimately related roles - is that one quickly finds the boundaries between reality and fiction melting away. Life and art symbiotically imitate each other in Almodóvar's colorful, hot-blooded world, with no discussion of the one complete without mention of the other. And with the story of Angel and Enrique, boyhood friends at Catholic school who are reunited years later and become involved in a semi-autobiographical movie about their youth, the relationship between fiction and reality becomes so blurred that, by film's end, there's no way to distinguish between the two.

Continue reading: Bad Education Review

Bad Education Review


Good

What I've always enjoyed most about the films of Spanish cinema provocateur Pedro Almodóvar is that his idiosyncratic, sexually ironic, deeply consequential trademarked twists of fate never cease to surprise me. Characters are always more complex than they first seem. Relationships are always intricate and knotted with intimate humanity. And his stories regularly take sudden left turns or accelerate unexpectedly from a pleasant trot to a reign-gripping gallop.

There's no predicting the heart, the humor or the horror of the writer-director behind the hilarious "Women of the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown," the kinky "Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down" and the affecting "All About My Mother" -- and in "Bad Education" he creates a wily, passionate puzzle several layers deep in both personality and plot.

Fele Martinez (who also starred in "Talk to Her" for Almodóvar in 2002) plays Enrique, a wunderkind movie director whose high-profile early success in life begets an unsolicited intrusion from Ignacio (Gael Garcia Bernal), a seemingly forgotten childhood friend from Catholic school who is now a bad actor (you can tell just from his cheesy head-shots) with a script to pitch and a burning desire to play his own cross-dressing lead character.

Continue reading: Bad Education Review

Daniel Gimenez Cacho

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Benedict Cumberbatch Interviews Tom Hiddleston, But Avoids The Taylor Swift Question

Benedict Cumberbatch Interviews Tom Hiddleston, But Avoids The Taylor Swift Question

One Marvel Universe star interviewed another, as part of Interview magazine's October edition.

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Daniel Gimenez Cacho Movies

Blancanieves Movie Review

Blancanieves Movie Review

This exquisite Spanish take on the Snow White fairy tale is in a different league...

How I Spent My Summer Vacation [aka: Get the Gringo] Movie Review

How I Spent My Summer Vacation [aka: Get the Gringo] Movie Review

With echoes of everything from Mad Max to Payback, this grungy thriller rampages through Mel...

We Are What We Are [Somos lo Que Hay] Movie Review

We Are What We Are [Somos lo Que Hay] Movie Review

For a thriller about cannibals, this Mexican film is more of an unsettlingly violent drama...

Bad Education Movie Review

Bad Education Movie Review

Pedro Almodóvar's films have always oozed adoration for tawdry movie melodrama, from the Telemundo-on-cocaine gaudiness...

Advertisement
Nicotina Movie Review

Nicotina Movie Review

This case of one thing leading to another and nobody getting what they want is...

Bad Education Movie Review

Bad Education Movie Review

Pedro Almodóvar's films have always oozed adoration for tawdry movie melodrama, from the Telemundo-on-cocaine gaudiness...

Bad Education Movie Review

Bad Education Movie Review

What I've always enjoyed most about the films of Spanish cinema provocateur Pedro Almodóvar is...

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