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'Kenzo' summer party

Maribel Verdu - 'Kenzo' summer party at the Giner de los Rios Foundation in Madrid - Madrid, Spain - Wednesday 24th June 2015

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Maribel Verdu attends the 'Felices 140' photocall

Maribel Verdu - Maribel Verdu attends the 'Felices 140' photocall at NH Collection Eurobuilding Hotel in Madrid - Madrid, Spain - Tuesday 7th April 2015

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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.

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Tetro Review


Excellent
Coppola delivers his most passionate film in years with this astonishing drama set in Argentina. Stylish, involving and intensely personal, the film really gets under the skin with its emotional story and powerfully visual tone.

Just before his 18th birthday, cruise ship waiter Bennie (Ehrenreich) gets some shore leave in Buenos Aires and immediately looks up his estranged brother Angelo (Gallo), a moody artist who now goes by the name Tetro and lives with his longsuffering girlfriend Miranda (Verdu). Their reunion is rather awkward, and it's not just because of the years that have passed and the tensions that remain around their relationships with their famous father (Brandauer). The problem is that Bennie thinks he can get Tetro back on track.

Continue reading: Tetro Review

Y Tu Mamá También Review


Extraordinary
When a film opens with a handheld shot of two teens humping under a Harold and Maude poster, one can assume the movie is different. Y Tu Mamá También is certainly that - an original, harsh, funny slant on the traditional road movie, as experienced by two Mexican teens and their gorgeous 28-year-old tagalong. Filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón (Great Expectations) strips the familiar genre to its core, exposing the trailblazing characters at their barest, figuratively and literally.

As go the minds of most 17-year-olds, Tenoch and Julio think about sex. A lot. They talk about sex a lot. They quickly screw their girlfriends before the girls depart for a European summer vacation, they simultaneously masturbate while hollering out their thoughts (Salma Hayek!), and they make fun of their respective, uh, members. Tenoch, the wealthy son of a politician, and Julio, living with his lower-class mother and activist sister, plan to spend the summer getting high and getting laid.

Continue reading: Y Tu Mamá También Review

Pan's Labyrinth Review


Excellent
Unfolding before viewers' eyes like luxuriantly blooming nightshade, Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth is a dark treat that delivers a powerful sting. The nightmare conventions are here in his story of a young girl whose moorings to the real world have been quite effectively cut, everything from mysterious forests and exaggeratedly evil father figures to subterranean monsters and a fairy world existing quite close to our own. But instead of losing himself in the otherworldly, del Toro bases this fantasia in the deadliest of realities.

In 1944, Ofelia (Ivana Baquero), a bookish 12-year-old arrives with her pregnant mother Carmen (Ariadna Gil) at an isolated farmhouse in northern Spain. Here, amidst the dark woods and quietly subservient peasants, her new stepfather Vidal (Sergi López), an army captain, has set up base to harass leftover anti-Fascist rebels from the Civil War. The carefully sadistic Vidal has no squeamishness about the humanity of his anti-insurgent campaign, coolly ordering that all food and medical supplies for the nearby villagers be locked up in the farmhouse and only doled out under guard -- an attempt to starve out the rebels hiding up in the mountains. While the adults (including the excellent Maribel Verdú from Y Tu Mamá También as a woman with rebel ties) are fully enmeshed in their pungent dramas, Ofelia has her own problems of a different sort.

Continue reading: Pan's Labyrinth Review

Goya in Bordeaux Review


OK
I'll admit, I have fit all my knowledge of Spanish painter Francisco Goya into the sentence you're reading right now. What's a Spanish painter doing in Bordeaux, France? I don't know, and after watching this film, I still don't know. I had to read a synopsis on the movie's web site to find out he had been exiled there. I'm still not sure why.

To be certain, Goya in Bordeaux assumes the audience is deeply intimate with his Goya's work, his life, and his politics. It's a love letter written to the man by writer/director Carlos Saura, who clearly idealizes everything about the artist. Unless you are like Saura, this will undoubtedly be seen as a not good thing.

Continue reading: Goya in Bordeaux Review

Y Tu Mamá También Review


Extraordinary
When a film opens with a handheld shot of two teens humping under a Harold and Maude poster, one can assume the movie is different. Y Tu Mamá También is certainly that - an original, harsh, funny slant on the traditional road movie, as experienced by two Mexican teens and their gorgeous 28-year-old tagalong. Filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón (Great Expectations) strips the familiar genre to its core, exposing the trailblazing characters at their barest, figuratively and literally.

As go the minds of most 17-year-olds, Tenoch and Julio think about sex. A lot. They talk about sex a lot. They quickly screw their girlfriends before the girls depart for a European summer vacation, they simultaneously masturbate while hollering out their thoughts (Salma Hayek!), and they make fun of their respective, uh, members. Tenoch, the wealthy son of a politician, and Julio, living with his lower-class mother and activist sister, plan to spend the summer getting high and getting laid.

Continue reading: Y Tu Mamá También Review

Jericho Mansions Review


Terrible
What the hell?

This conflagration of Barton Fink and Melrose Place makes as close to zero sense as it gets, and that's just the beginning. It gets more baffling as it moves along.

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Y Tu Mama Tambien Review


OK

A teenage road trip flick like Mexico's "Y Tu Mamá También" (translation: "And Your Mother, Too!") could never get made in Hollywood.

Sure, it has its fart jokes. Sure, the two best-buddy teenagers the plot revolves around are carefree stoners with sex on the brain 24/7. Can you blame them? They've dumb-lucked into escorting a gorgeous Spanish woman 10 years their senior on a pilgrimage to the beach during their summer vacation.

But this movie isn't Spring Break on MTV put to celluloid. It isn't aiming for the lowest common denominator and the lowest IQ. It has something insightful to say about sexuality and coming of age. It's a road trip movie with a soul.

Continue reading: Y Tu Mama Tambien Review

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