Wednesday, 17 March 2010

(500) Films of Empire - Day 180

93 - The Spirit of the Beehive - 3 stars

A beautifully shot and poetic tale of innocence, it is an obvious influence on Guillermo Del Toro, particularly Pan's Labyrinth, as it features a critique on the Spanish Civil War as seen through the eyes of a young girl.
The film focuses on a family who are fragmented and distant from each other; the father tends to his beehives, the mother is secretly writing letters to someone in the war, and the two daughters are left to play and delve into fantasy to escape their humdrum existence.
It is anchored by an enchanting performance by 7 year old Ana Torrent as the little girl who believes in monsters, because her sister tells her that Frankenstein's monster was real after they see a screening of James Whale's Frankenstein at a travelling cinema.

121 - Los Olvidados - 4 stars
Aka The Young And The Damned, and in this film the kids in this Mexican slum are damned if they do and damned if they don't. A cautionary tale, that has become relevant again given all the gang violence and complaints about "the youth of the day". Imagine City Of God meets Oliver Twist, but there is no chance of redemption, no escape from the slums or even their past.
While the film is a work of fiction, it feels real and believable, thanks to Luis Bunuel drawing naturalistic performances from all the kids.
Yet the director of Un Chien Andalou still manages to bring in some of his trademark surrealism as Pedro is tormented by bizarre dreams. You'll never look at chickens in the same way again!

Days remaining - 185 Films remaining - 237

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