Contemporary foreign film is usually a mixed bag, but Spain has seen a resurgence in cinema as of late. And, appropriately, the Northwest Film Center is beginning a three-week showcase of new Spanish films this weekend. So, if you’re up for some cinematic globe trotting, as well as some beautifully gentle imagery, you’d be wise to take advantage of the offerings.
The inquisitive Spanish
Contemporary foreign film is usually a mixed bag, but Spain has seen a resurgence in cinema as of late.
And, appropriately, the Northwest Film Center is beginning a three-week showcase of new Spanish films this weekend. So, if you’re up for some cinematic globe trotting, as well as some beautifully gentle imagery, you’d be wise to take advantage of the offerings.
Mataharis***1/2Director: Icíar BollainSunday, Nov. 23, 5:30 p.m. (part of double feature)Whitsell Auditorium
For a film that is both quietly affecting and emotionally balanced, Iciar Bollain’s Mataharis explores some deep-seated and familiar neuroses about relationships and trust.
The conceit of the film, made in 2007, is surprisingly fresh: The plot follows the intersecting paths of three women who work as private investigators. Each woman is at a different stage in life; Ines in her 20s, Eva in her 30s with a young family and Carmen is older with full-grown kids.
Each responds to the epiphanies of their job in distinct ways, and all seem to find love, or at least a realization about its function, through their investigative work. But the film doesn’t beat this thesis into your brain and there are no grand gestures of love. Rather, it makes its point with elegant realism.
Mataharis is a simple film about complex ideas and, as a result, it feels true.
The actresses here all do a fantastic job, embodying their characters with full-hearted yet controlled emotion. Bollain obviously knows how to construct a story, and how to move and flex her actors within it.
At 95 minutes long, Mataharis makes its point quickly. There’s no desperate hanging on or over sentimentalizing of subject matter. The film’s pacing, however, is a bit languid, as it moves from one scene to the next with slowly drawn charm that, for the sleep-deprived, may be a bit too much.
Visually, the film is unremarkable and neutral, even clean. It’s flatly digital and hand-held looking, almost documentary-like. This mostly serves the point of the movie–these aren’t epic stories–but something just slightly more dynamic might resonate better.
In a world of overwrought images, Mataharis is refreshing for its examined and careful filmmaking, true, and real, and good.
Contemporary Spanish CinemaAll screenings at the Whitsell Auditorium
Under the StarsDirector: Felix ViscarretTonight, 7 p.m.
Seven Billiard TablesDirector: Gracia QuerejetaSaturday, Nov. 22, 7 p.m.
MeDirector: Rafa CortesSunday, Nov. 23, 5 p.m.(Screens with Mataharis)
In The City Of SylviaDirector: Jose Luis GuerinWednesday, Dec. 3, 7 p.m.
Solitary FragmentsDirector: Jaime RosalesThursday, Dec. 4, 7 p.m.
ShortmetrajeDirector: VariousSaturday, Dec. 6, 4:30 p.m.
SeptembersDirector: Carles BoschWednesday, Dec. 10, 7 p.m.
BirdsongDirector: Albert SerraThursday, Dec. 11, 7 p.m.