Wednesday, August 15, 2007

El Calentito

El Calentito (2005), directed by Chus Gutiérrez (Spanish with subtitles) is a gem of a movie. It revolves around a "girl group" in early post-Franco Spain. The viewer can honestly delight in the exuberance of freedom, observing people as they wriggle free of Spain's fascist legacy. The film also carries a punk ethos; or more precisely, it shows the punk/New Wave music scene refracted through Spanish sensibilities. It's packed with innocent excitement and frenetic energy.

El Cantito (named after the club where the volatile band Las Siux cuts its teeth) has an additional element that other period movies don't: an attempted fascist coup before and during an important gig on February 23, 1981. This historical backdrop gives Gutiérrez's film extra kick.

The "girls" steal the show from the "boys" as far as viewer attention -- hard to beat their fully outfitted punk charisma. Verónica Sánchez plays protagonist Sara, transforming from sheltered student to vibrant performer; Macarena Gómez plays Leo, the troupe's comedian; Ruth Díaz's Carmen fronts the band (my personal favorite in the movie); Nuria González plays transvestite bar owner Antonio; Lluvia Rojo (Chus) quits the band early but remains on the tightly sprung scene to cause trouble later.

I particularly like how El Cantito avoids the usual Hollywood us vs. them gangs, opting instead for exploring the tensions between freedom and play vs. tradition and fear of change. And the atmosphere is pitch perfect -- true in spirit to how the European music scene actually played back in 1981.

Today's Rune: Wholeness.

Birthdays: Napoleon I (Napoléon Bonaparte), Walter Scott, Thomas de Quincey, Mikao Usui (Usui Sensei), Ethel Barrymore (Blythe), Julia Child (Julia Carolyn McWilliams), Nicolas Roeg, Debi Mazar, Chris Morrissey, Natasha Henstridge, Nathalie Press.



Pythia3 said...

Great review - very well done. I want to see this movie after reading your review. (Writing Reviews requires a very special talent - I find it difficult.)
Boy, the 80's were a blast (I know that ages me, saying that - not the fact that I was old enough in the 80's to have fond collected memories, but rather the fact I look fondly on past decades at all! My Nana always talked about the 'good ole days . . . ' now here I am doing the same.)
Speaking of 80's music, my friend is playing DTE tomorrow - an 80's rock concert event. He was the drummer for the band Warrant. I am going there to see him (and hear him!)
Well, it's after midnight and I guess I'll read and try to fall asleep at a decent hour tonight.
Goodnight, Erik.

Bubs said...

Sounds cool, another one for the Netflix queue