Julieta (2016)

Julieta Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………..

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta is a 2016 Spanish drama film directed by Pedro Almodovar and starring Emma Suarez and Adriana Ugarte. It is such an uninspired, boring movie.

A chance encounter causes a woman to reflect on the tragic circumstances surrounding the disappearance of her daughter. That is the plot here. It is dull. It is lifeless. It is typical. There is nothing more to say about it.

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Juieta Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………..

True, the film looks good and is very well acted by both Emma Suarez and Adriana Ugarte, but it is such a forgettable, deeply flawed and uninspired movie that just never got my interest at all. I was bored immensely by it and I never found anything of substance or truly original in it.

And that is the problem with Pedro Almodovar. He often repeats himself through his work. This one has a familiar plot and familiar characters for him and I just do not understand why he even bothered making it in the first place. His style here is even subdued and he never managed to lift this movie to any heights, if you of course do not count the visuals which are pretty good and the attention to detail is solid.

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Julieta Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………..

Julieta is also overlong. Yes, its running time is only an hour and a half, but the story is so simple and the pacing is immensely slow that it seemed much longer, at least it did to me. None of it ever made me engaged, absolutely none of its plot points. And the structure of the movie is highly typical and I have to say that the film even looked pretentious and awfully artsy at times. In the end, Julieta isn’t awful, but it is so slight, so typical and so forgettable that it is not worth watching at all.

Julieta looks good and is well acted, but the plot is so simple and uninspired, the movie is incredibly slow and boring, the structure is typical and the overall movie is way too forgettable and just so dull that I was never engaged by it whatsoever.

My Rating – 2.5

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The Spirit of the Beehive (1973)

The Spirit of the Beehive Movie Review…………………………………………………………………

The Spirit of the Beehive Movie Review

The Spirit of the Beehive is a 1973 Spanish drama film directed by Victor Erice and starring Ana Torrent. It is a solid and sometimes wonderful, yet ultimately very disappointing film.

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It’s me, Ana… It’s me, Ana…

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The Spirit of the Beehive Movie Review…………………………………………………………………

It follows a young girl from rural Spain and her fascination with the 1931 film ‘Frankenstein’. As a big fan of that classic movie, I appreciated every sequence surrounding it and every theme that is woven throughout that resembles the actual movie. I loved its first act as everything about it was absolutely beautiful. Watching the children get fascinated by a film as they’d never seen one before was both heartwarming and sad. I also loved Ana’s naivety and how she actually thought the characters were real at first. The scene in which her sister explains her that it’s all fake is undoubtedly the highlight of the entire picture.

However, the movie worsens in its second act and stumbles in the third act. Whenever the film moved away from this horror classic, it suddenly felt boring and entirely uninvolving. Yes, the entire film is very slow, but its second half is particularly sleep-inducing. I found the film’s artistic sensibility sometimes quite evident and strong, but more often than not, it was done in a pretentiously slow and typical manner.

The film is well directed by Victor Erice and Ana Torrent is especially memorable. She is not only beautiful, but also such a sweet and somewhat of an enigmatic child. She carries this movie entirely on her shoulders and whenever it focused on other characters, the film suffered as a result because I just wasn’t invested in the parents’ storylines at all. I get that they should be moving, but because they weren’t well utilized, they ended up being abrupt and flawed.

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The Spirit of the Beehive Movie Review…………………………………………………………………

The Spirit of the Beehive is beautiful to look at and the rural imagery at display here is simply gorgeous and sometimes the tone is quite dreamlike and wonderful. I really liked the imagery of the last scenes and although I found the actual plot points to be lacking, they at least looked great. But the film is just never as emotional as it should have been and it is never as great as I thought it would have been given its intriguing premise.

The Spirit of the Beehive has gorgeous scenery, a sweet central character, an intriguing premise and such a great first act with some really heartwarming moments, but everything that came afterwards was either dull or disappointing and the movie is way too slow to be enjoyed more.

My Rating – 3.5

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Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988)

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown ……………………………………………………………………………

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown Movie Review

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is a 1988 Spanish comedy drama film directed by Pedro Almodovar and starring Carmen Maura and Antonio Banderas. It is such a mediocre, ridiculous movie.

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For two days everyone has been saying no to me.

Now it’s my turn to say no

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I really did not like this movie. I usually like the works of this director, but this being one of Almodovar’s first films, it is so disappointing and weak. The plot here is silly to put it mildly. I felt as if I was watching a soap opera instead of a respected movie because its plot is so ridiculous and so soapy that it really was difficult to watch.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is filled with many characters and all of them are somehow connected in such a stupid way. Not one of them was at least mildly interesting. Pepa is okay as the protagonist and Carmen Maura is the highlight here as she gave a good performance, but every other actor is forgettable as are their characters in my honest opinion.

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Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown Movie Review……………………………………………………………………………

This film is a black comedy and I guess I can see why someone would like it and would find it funny, but this was totally humorless to me as I never even smiled, let alone laughed. Those endless impossible to happen in real life scenarios were just too over-the-top and ridiculous to me, but in a negative way. Yes, I can see some of the moments being entertaining to some, but this was for the majority of time not only unfunny, but also incredibly annoying to watch.

Another problem here is its first act as it just starts off in such an annoying way with that TV show and unfortunately only goes worse from there as it never introduces you to its characters properly and it just becomes too difficult to follow and never welcoming at all. I was so frustrated watching this film and especially that first half.

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Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown Movie Review……………………………………………………………………………

The ending is somewhat sweet and memorable and there were a couple of passable moments, but almost every scene here is pretty useless and annoying. The film is awfully edited as it is just so frustratingly frantic that it was really tough to watch. But the script is the major problem to which I return as the cause of this failure. If those endless scenarios were funny or at least entertaining, I would forgive the movie for being silly and over-the-top. But they weren’t like that whatsoever and that is why this is a mediocre affair. In the end, this Spanish “classic” is such an overrated mess and such a big letdown for me.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is such an overrated mess with some decent moments here and there, but for the most part being utterly ridiculous and too over-the-top. It is a big soap opera with all of its ugly qualities and all of its scenarios are not only unfunny, but also annoying and the film is not only awfully frantic, but also quite frustrating to watch.

My Rating – 2.5

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The Devil’s Backbone (2001)

The Devil's Backbone

The Devil’s Backbone Review

The Devil’s Backbone is a 2001 Spanish-Mexican drama horror film directed by Guillermo del Toro and it is one of the director’s most acclaimed works.

It is set in a badly operated orphanage and it follows an orphan boy during the Spanish Civil War. The story itself is very well written and it is such a dramatic movie. It is professionally scripted and it is emotionally resonant. However, my major issue with it is that it is not a horror film. It is just not that. It has a ghost and some horror elements, but it is mostly just a straight drama and I can’t understand how anyone would classify this as a horror film. My second issue with the plot itself is that it lacks focus and with too many characters in here, it doesn’t quite know which one to follow and the whole movie somehow doesn’t know its identity and never establishes it unfortunately.

The characters are well developed. Carlos is such a likable kid and your really root for him. The sequence near the beginning where he is left in the orphanage is just so devastating to witness. And the other kids are all really well depicted with Jaime being the most memorable. Carmen is great and Jacinto is such a menacing creation, but it is Casares who is the standout of the adults and the scene with him and Carmen near the end is such a heartbreaking scene.

The acting is also really good and professional. Eduardo Noriega is quite good and Marisa Paredes is fine as well, but again it is Federico Luppi who shines the most in a difficult role and he is the highlight.

It is a technically polished work, as expected from the director. The cinematography is really good and although the scenery isn’t as memorable as in his other films, it is still quite good. The costumes are good, the acting is great and the direction is superb. It is also a really well paced movie and never boring or too fast. It is also a smart film and really well executed overall with the action being really well done. I wished to see more dialogue in it, but it is visually arresting with some incredibly moving scenes not just emotionally but also in looks. It really is such an emotional movie.

The Devil’s Backbone is never scary and it isn’t particularly atmospheric which was a big problem for me. Not only is it not a horror film as everyone says it is, but those rare horror moments aren’t particularly memorable and the dramatic moments are much better realized. The ghost is an interesting creation and the final sequence with him is terrific, but he was still a lost potential and never properly explored or executed.

But it is a sophisticated and well crafted film that is undoubtedly the director’s best early effort and much better than both ‘Cronos‘ and ‘Mimic‘. It has his signature style and professional approach to it, but it is still miles away from the quality of his future ‘Pan’s Labyrinth‘, but it is still an evident progress for him.

The Devil’s Backbone is very well acted and directed with fine characters, great visuals, some memorable sequences and evident emotional resonance. It isn’t a horror film and the horror elements aren’t as good as the dramatic ones, but it is still the director’s best early effort and overall a very well crafted movie.

My Rating – 4

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Interior & Exterior Stills from The Devil’s Backbone

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All About My Mother (1999)

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All About My Mother Review

All About My Mother is a 1999 Spanish drama film directed by Pedro Almodovar and it is mostly regarded as his best work.

The film is about Manuella, a nurse who after losing her son goes to Barcelona to seek for his father whom she never told they had a son. The story is wild and very fast-paced, but also always intriguing and entertaining. It is also incredibly well structured and edited with never a dull or rushed moment. I find the fact that some parts are clearly influenced by ‘All About Eve‘, as is the title I believe, fascinating and very welcome as it is a classic, incredible film and he manages to properly pay homage to it. If I have one problem, I would say it is the somewhat soapy nature of the story as it sometimes feels like telenovela, especially for its characters that are all connected in some way which screams soap opera. But it never actually becomes like that fully and it is a minor flaw I have in an outstanding film.

The character development is absolutely phenomenal with each and every character having a clear personality, flaws, soul and also charm. Yes, every character is, apart from being extremely well developed, also very likable and sympathetic. Manuella is strong as the protagonist and it is superb that her grief for her son is poignant and never as melodramatic as it could have been. As for Rosa, she is warm and a very good person and you quickly start to care about her and you feel bad afterwards for all the bad things that are happening to her. Huma is very charming and has a screen presence, but the best thing about her is that she is undeniably influenced by Bette Davis‘ Margo Channing and that is a wonderful touch as it is executed perfectly. I found Nina pretty underdeveloped, she is just a drug addict and the most boring character here, but Agrado is simply fantastic as a funny and sympathetic transsexual. Her lines are hilarious and her personality is wonderful. She is definitely the most endearing and warm character in the entire film. As for Lola, her character has the constant mystery factor as she is mentioned throughout the whole film until she finally appears in the final act and that did not disappoint as her sequence with Manuella is incredibly emotional and powerful.

The film is incredibly rich in themes. You have the theme of femininity wonderfully executed and it is explored what it really means to be a woman. The theme of loss and grief is of course present and well executed. And classic cinema and theater is present as well which was a great touch and it connected the bits and pieces of the movie perfectly. And I have to mention the sheer originality and authenticity of the movie because it truly is a one of a kind piece of work which is also very memorable and sticks with you. As for the acting, it is magnificent across the board with each performance being superb and a standout in and of itself. That definitely helped this movie be such a professional and well-crafted cinematic experience as it is.

The great thing about it is that it is never predictable as well because its story is so mature and well thought-out that it is always intriguing. The dialogue is of course superb as is the direction from Almodovar as he is the one who is responsible for the movie’s feel and ideas. And the tone is deft, mostly serious but with its own light touches of fun and humor.

The problems I found in All About My Mother despite its somewhat soapy nature are sometimes too fast-paced approach and theatre sequences. The movie should have been a bit slower, it is definitely a bit too fast for my taste. The theatre sequences are of course good, but they nevertheless become a bit repetitive near the end. But those are some of the minor flaws which do not take much from the film as it is terrific in all other aspects.

With outstanding character development, excellent direction, deft pacing and a thematically rich, original and always entertaining and involving plot, All About My Mother is a fantastic film which has its minor flaws including a bit too fast paced approach and at times a bit soapy nature, but it is otherwise a terrific movie with its fair share of likable and sympathetic characters, excellent tone ranging from serious to funny, wonderful themes superbly explored, authentic story, great influences and it is all around an engaging, smart and incredibly well acted movie and a standout work from the director.

My Rating – 4,5

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