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Friday, 12 October 2012

Catalan strand

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2012
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

13 October (updated 25 October)

By way of an an announcement, I want to write next about four more Catalan films that were kindly brought (along with V.O.S. (2009), already reviewed) to the festival this year, which I am sure was a very good and also well-received initiative, The Body in the Woods (1996), Warsaw Bridge (1989), and The Night Elvis Died (2010). And I nearly forgot to say Black Bread (2010).

What I can say now is that, to write effectively about the middle of these three, I would really need to see it again, whereas the other three are clear in my mind. That said, I have less to say about the first, and would prefer to concentrate on the other two.

Regarding Warsaw Bridge (1989), it came as a surprise to me (although subliminally I recognized the connection, in the festival programme, when making this one of my selections), that the prize-winning book (of the same name) within was one of the landmarks from a stay booked at a hotel in the former East when I visited Berlin seven years ago, meaning that I was so many stops before, probably, the omnipresent Friedrichstra├če.

However, rather than self-psychoanalyse why I can retrieve only the ending (which solved a mystery), and, vaguely, a slightly evasive acceptance speech or press questions from the award-holder at a busy reception around a pool at night, it is better to seek out a copy to fill in the gaps, and to talk about Body. We were told that it was a sort of Catalan Twin Peaks, which was something that, for not having followed it, only helped me vaguely.

It turned out to be not quite what it presented itself to be, an investigation into a crime, but rather the manipulation of evidence, gender and even human remains in a self-interested and alarmingly corrupt way. That said, that revelation came after an immensely slow-burn, and after a string of people, who at first denied that they knew anything (or more than what they said), collapsed under the real or imagined threat of violence (or other penalty) made by the woman lieutenant: it felt like too much of a deferral, not to mention a massive misdirection, to merit the hoped-for pay-off.

Not just that, but that the depiction of events, whether in recall or in real time, made no especial use of the resource of film as a medium (as against t.v.), and so seemed rather prosaic, as if not made for cinema. A good piece of work, but not, for my money, in the same inventive league as, say, V.O.S., in being for and of film per se.

As for the films that remain, Elvis now has a review, as does Bread.

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