The Queen of Spain (La reina de España) (2016)

FERNANDO TRUEBA Bil’s rating (out of 5): B.5.  Spain, 2016.  Atresmedia Cine, Atresmedia, Crea SGR, Fernando Trueba Producciones Cinematográficas, Instituto de la Cinematografía y de las Artes Audiovisuales, Movistar+, The Queen Picture.  Screenplay by Fernando Trueba.  Cinematography by José Luis Alcaine.  Produced by Anne Deluz, Mercedes Gamero, Cristina Huete, Mikel Lejarza.  Music by Zbigniew Preisner.  Production Design by Juan Pedro de Gaspar. …

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Two Much

BB.5 (out of 5) Antonio Banderas plays an art gallery owner who needs to work up the odd scam to keep paintings moving out of his store: he attends funerals and pretends that the dearly departed recently purchased a painting before passing off, and would the survivors now like to pay for it? On one of…

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Blast From The Past

BBBB (out of 5) Brendan Fraser stars as a man raised for thirty-five years in a bomb shelter with his Communist-paranoid parents (Sissy Spacek, Christopher Walken) who mistakenly took an airplane falling on their house to be a nuclear bomb and headed for their underground hideout. Now an adult, Fraser is sent out into the world…

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Belle Epoque

BBB (out of 5) An army deserter happens upon a farm that houses a man and his four daughters. Immediately offering him shelter, the old man has no idea what trouble he is inviting by introducing this young buck to four girls who have too little exposure to the male element. One by one the…

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My Life In Ruins

BB.5 (out of 5) Seven years after her big, fat Greek wedding changed the face of ethnic comedies forever, Nia Vardalos is back and this time, she’s heading for the homeland. She plays a professor who was recently downsized at the University Of Athens and is now acting as tour guide for a rickety organization…

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Jamon Jamon

BB (out of 5) Boring sex comedy from Spain, about a local rich boy who falls in love with a prostitute’s daughter. It’s essentially a starring vehicle for its Iberian stars, Penelope Cruz as the heroine and Javier Bardem as a wannabe matador who also catches her eye. Stefania Sandrelli has an excellent supporting role as the wealthy…

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Golden Balls (Huevos de Oro)

BB.5 (out of 5) The insurmountable problems of the male ego are the main focus of this pedestrian comedy, starring Javier Bardem as a poor young man who is determined to make good in life. He marries rich (to Maria de Medeiros) in order to finance his goal of building a huge skyscraper (phallic obsession and all)…

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The Dancer Upstairs

BB.5 (out of 5) For all its passionate photography, score, convoluted political story and rich cast, this is a surprisingly unaffecting movie. Directed by John Malkovich, it stars Javier Bardem as a South American police detective who is on the hunt for a revolutionary named Ezequiel, a man gathering the people in a revolt against their…

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Portrait Of Carlos Saura (Retrato De Carlos Saura)

BBBB (out of 5) This documentary triptych through the life and career of Spanish filmmaker Carlos Saura is often more entertaining than many of his films. It details, in one fast-passing hour, the biography and filmography of an artist who grew up and was shaped by Francoist Spain, emerging from its heavily censored artistic arena…

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Ay, Carmela!

BBB (out of 5) The Spanish Civil War is in full swing and two travelling theatrical performers (Carmen Maura, Andrés Pajares) have to constantly play their cards right to survive the political situation they find themselves in (mostly by quashing their pro-Republican views). When they accidentally wander into enemy territory without realizing it, they are…

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I’m So Excited (Los Amantes Pasajeros)

BBB.5 (out of 5) A careless mistake by two airport employees (goofily funny cameos by Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas) results in a flight from Spain to Mexico needing to make an emergency landing when it turns out the gear is jammed.  Now the airplane circles the air above Toledo waiting hours for a free…

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Jealousy (Celos)

BBBB (out of 5) Aitana Sánchez-Gijón plays an orange packer about to be married to her truck-driver boyfriend when he finds a picture of her on the beach with a handsome young man whom he’s never met before. He questions her, pesters her really, and she insists it’s a relationship in the past that she has long…

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