Alejandro Amenábar has made only five main features over a 15-year period from
1995 to 2009. In 1995 he abandoned his Film Studies degree at Madrid's
Complutense University in order to shoot Tesis (Thesis), his
first feature. This book contains a brief biographical profile of Amenábar, but
the main focus is a detailed analysis of his shorts, and the ways in which a set
of templates and devices (stylistic, narrative and thematic) begin to emerge
from them, as well as a series of working practices. It then provides detailed
accounts of Amenábar's five feature films to date: Tesis,
Abre los ojos, The Others, Mar
adentro, and Ágora. Though the approaches adopted and
the menu of topics vary in each chapter, the book seeks to combine important
aspects of contextual information (historical, social, industrial) with detailed
production and reception notes. It pays close attention to aspects of film form
and style (e.g. the interplay in Tesis between classical Hollywood narration and
'art film narration'). The book explores the ways in which Amenábar
appears to conduct experiments in generic hybridity to create a personal, auteur
cinema which satisfies his cinephilia as well as his desire for ambiguity and
profundity. At the same time, it demonstrates his commitment to the tastes and
pleasures of film audiences. The study presented is guided in large part by
questions already raised in scholarly writings on Amenábar, as well as other
issues and evidence which have subsequently emerged.
Álex de la Iglesia, initially championed by Pedro Almodóvar, and at one time the enfant terrible of Spanish film, still makes film critics nervous. The director of some of the most important films of the Post-Franco era – Acción mutante, El día de la bestia, Muertos de risa – de la Iglesia receives here a full-length study of his work. Breaking away from the pious tradition of acclaiming art-house auteurs, the book tackles a new sort of beast: the popular auteur, who brings the provocation of the avant-garde to popular genres such as horror and comedy. It brings together Anglo-American film theory, an exploration of the legal and economic history of Spanish audio-visual culture, and a comprehensive knowledge of Spanish cultural forms and traditions (esperpento, sainete costumbrista) with a detailed textual analysis of all of de la Iglesia's seven feature films.
This account of the life and films of the Spanish-Basque filmmaker Julio Medem is the first book in English on the internationally renowned writer-director of Vacas, La ardilla roja (Red Squirrel), Tierra, Los amantes del círculo polar (Lovers of the Arctic Circle), Lucía y el sexo (Sex and Lucía), La pelota vasca: la piel contra la piedra (Basque Ball) and Caótica Ana (Chaotic Ana). Initial chapters explore Medem's childhood, adolescence and education, and examine his earliest short films and critical writings against a background of a dramatically changing Spain. Later chapters provide accounts of the genesis, production and release of Medem's challenging and sensual films, which feed into analyses of their meanings, both political and personal, in which the author draws on traditions and innovations in Basque art, Spanish cinema and European philosophy to create a portrait of the director and his work.
Guillermo del Toro, Alejandro González Iñárritu, and Alfonso Cuarón are the best-known Mexican directors internationally, yet none of them has directed a film in Mexico since 2001. This book examines the career trajectories of the directors and presents a detailed analysis of their most significant films. The three directors were lobbying for tax initiatives to stimulate filmmaking, more opportunities for the distribution and exhibition of Mexican films, and more involvement in film production from television companies. Guillermo del Toro is famous as a director of genre films. The book explores the similarities between the films generated by the authorial force of del Toro, also pointing to divergence occasioned by the very different production contexts. It also explores the auteurist strategies that he has cultivated and explains what is meant by a 'del Toro film'. Alejandro González Iñárritu has also cultivated auteurist strategies, but to a very different effect. The book examines the way in which Iñárritu adopts the language of US independent cinema, with a focus on the narrative structure and the application of a range of colour palettes. Alfonso Cuarón has also followed a transnational trajectory, making films in Mexico, the USA, and the UK, and he has had a varied career, taking on auteurist and studio projects. Despite the very different industrial context, Cuarón brought a number of artistic ideas he and his cinematographer had developed, notably the use of a green colour palette and opulent, highly decorated interiors and lush exteriors.
As Spain’s narrative of itself has changed through the late 1990s and the twenty-first century due to its engagement with historical memory and an interrogation of the country’s democratic credentials, analyses of Almodóvar’s cinema have changed to accommodate this. This book explores the evolving way in which the cinema of Pedro Almodóvar is employed to read Spain within the country and abroad. It focuses on how Almodóvar’s cinema engages with the narrative of the nation and the country’s twentieth- and twenty-first-century history through a metamodern (rather than postmodern) aesthetic. Whereas Almodóvar’s cinema does not wear politics on its sleeve, this book argues that, through using postmodern techniques with an ethical intent, a foregrounding of cinematic excess, and the poetic function, it nevertheless addresses Spain’s traumatic past and its legacy in relation to gender, class, and the precarious position of the LGBTQ+ community. The political nature of Almodóvar's work has been obscured by his alignment with the allegedly apolitical Spanish cultural movement known as la movida, but his cinema is in fact a form of social critique disguised as frivolity. The book offers a comprehensive film-by-film analysis of the cinema of the Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar, from early transgressive comedies of the 1980s like Pepi, Luci, Bom y otras chicas del montón and Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios to award winning dramas like Todo sobre mi madre, Hable con ella, and Dolor y gloria. In doing so, it shows how Almodóvar's films draw on various national cinemas and film genres.
Daniel Calparsoro, a director who has contributed to the contemporary scene in Spanish and Basque cinema, has provoked strong reactions from the critics. Reductively dismissed as a purveyor of crude violence by those critics lamenting a ‘lost golden age’ of Spanish filmmaking, Calparsoro's films reveal in fact a more complex interaction with trends and traditions in both Spanish and Hollywood cinema. This book is a full-length study of the director's work, from his early social realist films set in the Basque Country to his later forays into the genres of the war and horror film. It offers an in-depth film-by-film analysis, while simultaneously exploring the function of the director in the contemporary Spanish context, the tension between directors and critics, and the question of national cinema in an area—the Basque Country—of heightened national and regional sensitivities.
From 1943 until 1950, Emilio Fernández was regarded as one of the foremost purveyors of 'Mexicanness,' as one of the most important filmmakers of the Mexican film industry. This book explores the contradictions of post-Revolutionary representation as manifested in Fernández' canonical 1940s films: María Candelaria, Víctimas del pecado, Las abandonadas, La perla, Enamorada, Río Escondido, Maclovia and Salón Mexico. It examines transnational influences that shaped Fernández' work. The book acknowledges how the events of the Mexican revolution impacted on the country's film industry and the ideological development of nationalism. It takes note of current tendencies in film studies and postcolonial theory to look for the excesses, instabilities and incoherencies in texts, which challenge such totalizing projects of hegemony or cultural reification as 'cultural nationalism' or ' mexicanidad.' The book looks at how classical Mexican cinema has been studied, surveying the US studies of classical Mexican cinema which diverge from Mexican analyses by making space for the 'other' through genre and textual analyses. Fernández's Golden Age lasted for seven years, 1943-1950. The book also examines how the concept of hybridity mediates the post-Revolutionary discourse of indigenismo (indigenism) in its cinematic form. It looks specifically at how malinchismo, which is also figured as a 'positive, valorisation of whiteness,' threatens the 'purity' of an essential Mexican in María Candelaria, Emilio Fernández's most famous indigenist film. Emilio Fernandez's Enamorada deals with the Revolution's renegotiation of gender identity.