Presented by Facets Cinematheque, this festival of new narrative, documentary, animated, and experimental films from Spain runs Friday through Thursday, November 13 through 19, at Facets Cinematheque. Following are selected films screening; a full schedule is available at facets.org. For more information call 773-281-4114.
Camino More like a rosary than a movie, this 2008 Spanish drama is loosely based on the story of Alexia Gonzalez-Barros, a teenage girl whose Catholic devotion and sunny acceptance of an excruciating cancer death in 1985 have inspired a campaign for beatification. As the title character, Nerea Camacho suffers serenely through one devastating spinal operation after another, and writer-director Javier Fesser cranks up the emotion with soaring strings, visionary angels, and fantasy sequences riffing on Walt Disney's Cinderella. The movie has been praised for its skeptical treatment of Opus Dei, the personal prelature that guides Camino and her rigidly devout mother (Carme Elias), though I couldn't taste this through all the syrup. Gonzalez-Barros's family have denounced Camino, objecting particularly to the moment when a priest initiates a John Hughes-style slow clap as the poor girl finally relinquishes her spirit. But the movie cleaned up at Spain's Goya awards, taking best film, director, screenwriter, actor, actress, supporting actor, and new actress. In Spanish with subtitles. 143 min. —J.R. Jones Sat 11/14, 8:15 PM, and Sun 11/15, 2 PM
Desperate Women A ditzy young woman (Silvia Abascal), convinced that the hunk she recently hooked up with (Ivan Sanchez) is the reincarnation of her dead lover, enlists her politically connected aunt (Veronica Forqué) to help track him down. Their meandering, nonsensical investigation entails repeated visits to the theatrical dressing room of an alcoholic grand dame (Concha Velasco) and embroils them in the troubles of a elderly couple who've been victimized by masked burglars. Juan Luis Iborra, who cowrote and directed this 2008 comedy, slavishly imitates early Pedro Almodovar but lacks his crucial empathy for flamboyantly neurotic characters. 90 min. —Cliff Doerksen Sun 11/15, 7 PM, and Wed 11/18, 9 PM
A Fiance for Yasmina A community of North African Arabs newly arrived in Spain is the setting for this sunny but lightweight romantic comedy (2008). A sexy Moroccan emigre (Sanaa Alaoui) hopes to continue her university studies, but her chances for citizenship look bleak when she's rejected by the family of her lover, a local cop (Jose Antonio Lucia). Director Irena Cordona juggles multiple stories and her (mostly) talented actors with aplomb, but the ending is undermined by Jose Luis Garcia Perez's lackluster performance as the heroine's new man. In Spanish, Arabic, and French with subtitles. 92 min. —Andrea Gronvall Sun 11/15, 5 PM, and Wed 11/18, 7 PM
Ramirez Actor Cristian Magaloni and writer-director Albert Arizza should be able to write their own tickets on the strength of this astoundingly assured, no-budget psychological crime drama (2008). Magaloni quietly burns holes in the screen as a handsome young sociopath who supports his overlapping hobbies (clubbing, photography, strangling his sex partners) by slinging what must be the worst cocaine in Madrid. Pointedly decorous where skin and violence are concerned, the film delivers an icy, creeping craziness that gore merchants like Rob Zombie and Eli Roth could only dream of. Geraldine Chaplin puts in an unexpected cameo as a gallerist who gets off lightly after dismissing the killer's photographic portfolio as "lacking realism." In Spanish with subtitles. 92 min. —Cliff Doerksen Sat 11/14, 6 PM, and Mon 11/16, 9 PM