Roberto Alvarez

Roberto Alvarez

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Nobody's Life Review


Good
Spanish flick Nobody's Life might have been a unique art-house piece were it not for one small detail: A little movie called Time Out, which came from the country next door only a year earlier.

Nobody's Life is so similar to Time Out that a plagiarism charge might well be in order. But seriously, I'm sure it's unintentional, and maybe writers Eduard Cortés and Piti Español never even saw that dark and haunting masterpiece. But here's the same story nonetheless, as ostensibly successful bank executive Emilio (a droll José Coronado) is eventually revealed to be living a lie. He doesn't go to work: He goes to a park bench, where he simply sits, all day long. He's done this for 12 years. For money, the family lives off his wife's income and cash he's managed to swindle from his friends to "invest" for them. (Even this side plot appears in Time Out.) Eventually Emilio is found out and his world crumbles apart.

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The City Of No Limits Review


Very Good
The City Of No Limits has just about everything: a health crisis, a 40-year-old mystery, three Dynasty episodes worth of backstabbing family intrigue, and an extended Spanish family battling over its destiny. There's never a dull moment.

The city in question is Paris, where Max, the family patriarch and owner of a large pharmaceutical company, has traveled from Madrid seeking treatment for a tumor that has left him slightly demented and close to death. By his side is his wife Marie (the formidable Geraldine Chaplin, as thin and cold as an icicle), who clearly has something dark on her mind. She's joined by her three sons, Luis (Roberto Alvarez), Alberto (Alex Casanovas), and the youngest, Victor (Leonardo Sbaraglia), who flies in from Argentina with his girlfriend (Leticia Bredice) for what may be Max's death watch.

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Mad Love Review


Weak
For some reason, filmmakers become overly inspired when it comes to helming historical epics. In writer-director Vicente Aranda's interminable, labored, and lumbering celluloid soap opera Mad Love (aka Juana la Loca -- translation, Joan the Mad), he sets out to paint a lavish portrait of passion against the atmospheric Spanish background of late 15th century sensibilities. Although Mad Love boasts a radiant aura of visual sophistication, this 2002 Best Foreign Film nominee is lackluster.

Mad Love tells the sordid tale of Joan/Juana of Castile (Pilar López de Ayala), daughter of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella (the married monarchs who financed Christopher Columbus's boat ride to the New World in 1492). Juana ends up in a political marriage to Philip the Handsome (Daniele Liotti), the Archduke of Austria. Despite the arrangement, the couple manages to find a hidden mutual attraction. The result: six children. By this point, Juana is completely head-over-heels in love with Philip to the extent that it's obsessive. But Philip becomes noticeably indifferent toward his wife, dabbling in numerous adulterous affairs. Of course this adds to the increasingly insane jealously of Juana. An apparent emotional wreck, Philip's wife is due for a breakdown, and Philip looks to declare poor Juana legally insane and incarcerate her, thus giving him and his father a shot at the throne. But soon enough, Isabella dies, Philip dies, Ferdinand dies, and Juana gets shipped off to live in isolation before also dying, 40 years later.

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Talk To Her Review


Good

Spanish auteur Pedro Amoldóvar has a special talent for making eccentrics feel accessible. His films are always populated, at least in part, by unusual characters (transvestites, bondage freaks, pregnant nuns) who are so fully developed as characters -- and as human beings -- that they seem no stranger than your next door neighbor.

In "Talk To Her," the director's central weirdo an awkward, obsessive, socially incongruous male nurse with a stalker's crush on a comatose patient. His name is Benigno (Javier Camara) and his intensely sheltered life of caring for his fake-invalid mother has not only compelled him toward this kind of imaginary, one-sided "relationship," it was also the catalyst for his obsession in the first place.

Benigno lived with his mother across the street from a dance studio where he first became dumbstruck by Alicia (Leonor Watling), watching her through the windows before a hit-and-run accident left her hospitalized and effectively brain-dead. Having taken correspondence courses in nursing to better care for the old woman -- who had since died and left him alone in the apartment from which he rarely ventured -- Benigno convinced the girl's father to hire him as her private nurse.

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Roberto Alvarez

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Roberto Alvarez Movies

The City of No Limits Movie Review

The City of No Limits Movie Review

The City Of No Limits has just about everything: a health crisis, a 40-year-old mystery,...

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Mad Love Movie Review

Mad Love Movie Review

For some reason, filmmakers become overly inspired when it comes to helming historical epics. In...

Talk To Her Movie Review

Talk To Her Movie Review

Spanish auteur Pedro Amoldóvar has a special talent for making eccentrics feel accessible. His films...

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