Hopefully, nobody is going to win at the BCN Film Fest, always seeing the bright side of life without the need for a choir of crucified singers like the end of Brian’s Life. Not only because they have opted (all security measures through) for a face-to-face contest with elaborate programming and invited media, or for the success of the public in most of the sessions. Their optimism is such that they have even rectified Charles Chaplin himself. We all know (Chaplin by means of) that after modern times, The great dictator ends up inevitably arriving. Well then, the programmers and organizers of the BCN Film Fest screened yesterday (in the very complete Chaplin cycle that forms the backbone of this edition) The Great Dictator and Today Modern Times. Nothing like good cinema to change history and our future. Let us leave the dictators, the difficulties, the bad and look towards modern and better times.
A song of hope (or a chance on the grill; yes, breaking the magic and the charm) that went like a glove to one of the star activities of this Sunday day: the colloquium with Carmen Chaplin, granddaughter of the aforementioned genius of the seventh art. The granddaughter (and does not go with second because of Carmen or that of The Great Dictator), shared with the audience the first images of the documentary she is preparing about her grandfather: Charlie Chaplin, A Man of the World. Perhaps some of the situations experienced this afternoon in room 4 of the Verdi family appear in the final montage of the film, especially regarding the public’s reactions to the feature film that served as an aperitif to the appointment, that centennial The boy that for us (and for Verdi cinemas, home of the festival) it represents something more than a masterpiece: the triumph of a film at that moment when theaters were able to open (with reduced capacity) in the midst of the scourge of the pandemic.
We are sure that we will talk about and with Carmen Chaplin again, not only because they put these artistic sagas more than Jordi Évole to deal with one of the Bosé-Dominguín clan, but because there is already a firm promise that we will see that documentary in a next edition of the BCN Film Fest, perhaps with once again the learned presence of the learned guide Esteve Riambau, director of the Filmoteca de Catalunya and the Ángel Gabilondo of the national cinephilia.
Another presenter (a noun that suits him very well given his reasonable resemblance to Luis Larrodera) star in the second luxury act on this fourth day of the contest was Ángel Sala, director of the Sitges Festival. His presence in the virtual colloquium with Nicolas Winding Refn with the excuse of the revision (on the big screen and with the jaleos of the respectable) of the wild Valhalla Rising was not only justified by the wisdom and love for genre cinema and for that of Refn in particular of Sala, but because Valhalla Rising appeared in Sitges in that distant 2009, distant above all for a Danish director who would touch the sky of international (Hollywood) popularity thanks to Drive. Ángel Sala and Winding Refn himself agreed that in this almost medieval western of survival and extreme violence, there was already the germ of an author and his later work. Film, ode to the Viking fury and The Kings of the Sun by JL Thompson, which today perhaps could not even have been shot. But as that philosopher nicknamed Mustache said, that’s another story.
In Valhalla Rising, those attending the talk and the BCN Film Fest were also reunited with the fashionable actor at the moment (no, Johnny Depp, not you; you know that we love you more than Gernika in Barcelona, but no): Mads Mikkelsen. It would have been a hoot to have the Danish interpreter at this Festival and to have coincided with Johnny Depp. Would a Valhalla Rising or the Barcelona remake of Otra Ronda have been unleashed?
Between these events (Eric Barbier and his Little Country were at the Institut Français late in the afternoon) and the three titles that made up the official section there was time (more in the case of a short film that lasted like an episode of a current American soap opera) to that David Selvas and Taida Martínez would give us In my hands, their curious and very interesting approach (as faithful as with creative leaks towards other areas) to the piece by Jean Cocteau (yes, that of The Beauty and the Beast of yesterday in the event of the 75 years of FOTOGRAMAS; everything is connected) The human voice. Playing with reality and the recreation (or is it not really an affirmation?) Of that reality through the artifice of fiction, In my hands it ends up being more the Zulawskian The important thing is to love than the monologue that a few months ago we saw through the look of Pedro Almodóvar and with Tilda Swinton. At the same level as this (or even higher) is in the short by Selvas y Martínez the great Cristina Plazas, whom we try to elicit spoliers from the TV series (in its fourth season on air) of which she is the protagonist along with Javier Gutiérrez and Alejo Sauras: I am alive.
The bird of happiness
A blonde who would have caused the wettest masochistic dreams of Alfred Hitchcock and a bird … Both elements are present in The Bloom Family (Naomi Watts and a small black and white bird that they call Penguin) but this sweetened and more full of common places that the political program of United We Can is not, unfortunately, The Birds, and its only contact with terror is the presence of a (neat) Andrew The Walking Dead Lincoln.
Story of overcoming based on real events (seven words that give more yuyu than the seven seals of the Apocalypse), The Bloom family bases its script on those canonical steps in the face of misfortune: denial, acceptance and liberation; or something similar, because I have never been very self-help manuals. Precisely a self-help manual (which seems to be the autobiographical book that tells this story) is what this drama turns into with a paralyzed mother of three children, a self-sacrificing husband and a bird more charming than the fawn in The Awakening. Saint Francis of Assisi would have loved this film which, yes, carries to the end his servitude to the optimistic tear-jerker genre. Not Hitchcock.
A lonely man
The overdose of good feelings artis mutis from The Bloom family needed an exposure to something not so sweetened and hackneyed, and since for the projection of that hour and a half of furious Viking fury of Valhalla Rising there was still a lot of time and the adrenaline of sharing queues and a session with colleagues who were hungover from the victory of Barça in the Copa del Rey had already lost its effervescence, the chronicler trusted the viewing of The Good Traitor.
It is already known (every edition, ergo every year, we say it) that the BCN Film Fest is structured around literature and literary adaptations (hence its dates close to April 23, Sant Jordi), comedy, art, classic cinema in retrospect and history. In this last section is The Good Traitor, an ode to the figure of Henrik Kauffman, Danish ambassador to Washington when World War II broke out in 1939 and his native country was invaded and occupied by German troops and the Nazi regime. Christina Rosendhal’s film speaks of all this through that character, that diplomat (a true creation of actor Ulrich Thomsen) and how he did not bow to what his government, surrendered to Hitler’s force, marked him. Thus, Kauffmann becomes a dissident from his own nation; or rather: in the only legitimate representative of his nation by openly positioning himself against the orders he receives.
A film, with a delicate and balanced formal and narrative pulse, The Good Traitor is a moral camera thriller, full of meetings, interviews, phone calls and discussions about what is a politician and what and to whom he is owed. Subjects that the feature film deals with without emphasizing or ever boring and that despite its Danish historical specificity is absolutely transplantable (its greatest virtue) to any country, historical period and person.
Just at the same historical moment (the dawn of World War II) in which we left the Danish ambassador in Washington of The Good Traitor with his ethical worries, in Japan (and China) the passionate story of love and conspiracies began. (with also those dilemmas about the truth and about the greater good) of Yusaku and Satoko, a marriage that will be seen in the eye of the hurricane of a secret, political interests, war games and lethal espionage on two sides. The spy’s wife, filmed with a stylized and majestic calligraphy of expressionist light and shadow, colors of a Douglas Sirk melodrama and suspense sequences worthy of the most operatic Brian De Palma, by Kiyoshi Kurosawa (awarded as Best Director for this film at the past Venice Film Festival), is the most Hitchcocknian thing one has ever seen come out of the ceremonial Japanese cinema.
In La mujer del espía parades the story (masochistic and sacrificial) of Encadenados; the immediacy and political and ideological position of the Special Envoy; the suspense of Death on His Heels and The Man Who Knew Too Much; and the poetry of that delicate flower stamped on ceramic that is Topaz.
A good way to close this fourth day.
To face the fifth on Monday with optimism.
Always look in the bright side of life …
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