Phantom Playmates

The Spanish film poster for THE ORPHANAGE (2007).

After opening in Spain in the Fall of 2007, Juan Antonio Bayona’s elegant ghost story El Orfanato (English title: The Orphanage) went on to generate enthusiastic word of mouth responses from its many festival showings at Cannes, Toronto, Sitges, Austin and New York while picking up various honors such as Best New Director and Best Original Screenplay at the Goya Awards (Spain’s equivalent of the Academy Awards) and a nominee for the Golden Camera award at Cannes. I was lucky enough to see the movie during a visit to Girona, Spain where it was playing at a multiplex just a few blocks away from the wonderful Museu del Cinema which houses the Tomas Mallol collection (an amazing repository devoted to the beginnings and earlier origins of the medium known as the cinema). 

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Payback is a Bitch

We’ve all heard the famous quote “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” which came from the 1697 play The Mourning Bride by William Congreve, but what are the options for the discarded one? Shame the perpetrator in public? Internalize the rage? Become detached? Laugh it off? In Hollywood, the idea of the scorned woman bent on revenge is usually depicted more along the lines of Jessica Walter in Play Misty for Me (1971) and Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction (1987) but you really don’t have to wield a knife and go berserk to redeem your self-respect. Instead, you can be creative, unpredictable and non-threatening in appearance like Emily (Geraldine Chaplin), the protagonist of Alan Rudolph’s Remember My Name (1978).   Continue reading

What Triggers an Obsession?

Jose Luis Lopez Vazquez and Geraldine Chaplin in Peppermint Frappe (1967), directed by Carlos Saura

Jose Luis Lopez Vazquez and Geraldine Chaplin in Peppermint Frappe (1967), directed by Carlos Saura

One of Spain’s best known and critically acclaimed filmmakers in his own country, Carlos Saura is less well known in the U.S. where his mentor Luis Bunuel and his predecessor Pedro Almodovar are more famous. Yet, Saura was one of the guiding lights of the Spanish New Wave movement in the early sixties, beginning with his neorealistic social drama The Delinquents (1960). Saura would hit his stride with his two subsequent features, La Caza (1966, aka The Hunt) and Peppermint Frappe (1967), both of which explored the political, social and sexual repression of the Franco regime through the guise of allegory and psychological melodrama, respectively.     Continue reading