Guillermo Toledo

Guillermo Toledo

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I'm So Excited! [Los Amantes Pasajeros] Review


Very Good

Fans of more recent Almodovar films like The Skin I Live In or Volver should be warned about this one, because it harks back to his much cheesier 1980s films with its broad comedy, lurid production values and camp characters. But even if it looks fluffy and silly, there are some serious things going on under the surface, as Almodovar undermines stereotypes and plays with sexuality issues. Although this means that most of the humour is aimed at a gay audience.

It all takes place on a flight from Spain to Mexico, but shortly after take-off the pilot (de la Torre) announces that a mechanical fault means they need to make an emergency landing. Then the passenger Bruna (Duenas) reveals that she's a virginal psychic who sees death ahead, and everyone starts to panic. The flight crew (Camara, Areces and Arevalo) try to distract the passengers from impending doom by performing a choreographed number to the Pointer Sisters' eponymous hit. And when that doesn't work, they lace everyone's drinks with mescaline.

Each person in the first class cabin (economy is sound asleep) has his or her own crisis, including a notorious dominatrix (Roth), a businessman (Torrijo) on a quest, a shady hitman (Yazpik), a just-married groom (Silvestre) who prefers his wife to be asleep, and a man (Toledo) running from his suicidal girlfriend (Vega). And the pilots and flight attendants are also romantically entangled. All of this swirls together like a nutty 1970s Mexican soap, complete with flimsy-looking sets and a sparky mariachi score.

Continue reading: I'm So Excited! [Los Amantes Pasajeros] Review

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.

Continue reading: Mad Love Review

Butterfly Review


Good

A compelling marriage of innocence and intellectualism, "The Butterfly" views the see-sawing political upheaval of 1936 Spain through the life of a worrisome, bookish little boy.

Our young hero -- an asthmatic tailor's son named Moncho (Manuel Lozano) -- becomes fascinated by learning through his affectionate tutelage under an old schoolmaster (legendary Spanish thespian Fernando Fernan Gomez, "The Grandfather," "Belle Epoque"), whose involvement in humanitarian causes and whose open eschewment of the church put him in the crosshairs of the right-wingers critical of the precarious current government.

But, understandably, Moncho more interested in playing in the fields near his village and learning about life and nature from his mentor than he is in the freedom newly tasted by revolutionary republicans like his teacher and cautiously activist parents (played with tenderness and depth by Uxia Blanco and Gonzalo Uriarte). He takes only minor notice of the way fear and paranoia about losing their newly won rights is a constant topic of conversation among the grown-ups around him.

Continue reading: Butterfly Review

Guillermo Toledo

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Guillermo Toledo Movies

I'm So Excited! [Los Amantes Pasajeros] Movie Review

I'm So Excited! [Los Amantes Pasajeros] Movie Review

Fans of more recent Almodovar films like The Skin I Live In or Volver should...

Mad Love Movie Review

Mad Love Movie Review

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

Butterfly Movie Review

Butterfly Movie Review

A compelling marriage of innocence and intellectualism, "The Butterfly" views the see-sawing political upheaval of...

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