Category Archives: Spanish Films

HKIFF Review: Night Across the Street / La noche de enfrente 夜夢三巡 (2012) – Chile

Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA
Review Date: 25th March 2013

Directed by: Raúl Ruiz
Starring: Christian Vadim, Sergio Hernández, Valentina Vargas, Chamila Rodríguez, Valentina Muhr, Pedro Vicuña, Cristián Gajardo, Santiago Figueroa, Pedro Villagra, José Luis López

Reviewed as part of 37th Hong Kong International Film Festival 2013

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What can I say? “Night Across the Street” is one of those movies where you have to totally suspend every corner of your beliefs and just accept whatever is being thrown at you. It is like a dream that hardly made any sense, the words that comes out of their mouth are often incoherent and disjointed and people randomly appears and disappear next to no reason. In some ways, it seems like a Tarantino film, but it is really not as even the former auteur is more logical. So it is almost difficult to say whether “Night Across the Street” is good cinema or not, but it is definitely an illuminating experience.

Sergio Hernández is the star of the show, provides the film with a constant presence and in fact almost everything evolve around him. Not unlike Woody Allen walking around in his own film, the film mixes up between reality and fiction and often becomes illusionary. The kid (Santiago Figueroa) who plays a younger Don Celso or even a slight figure of imagination flairs extremely well as the know it all “wizz-kid”. I am not entirely sure of his role in the film, but it certainly provide the film with plenty of random laughs and moments. Other actors appears here and there, probably just as random and meaningless as the film itself. Not that it is necessary a bad thing.

All in all, “Night Across the Street” is by no means a bad film, but it requires the audience to invest a lot and while they may not get much out of it in the process. Being the late legendary director Raúl Ruiz’s final film, there are echoes within the work of life and death that seems to parallel, his own last visions. The film is deliberately incoherent, illogical and totally misunderstood, but it somehow manages to work on a different level. It does tries to express a number of messages, but never stand still on just one issue or thought. Still, “Night Across the Street” has its moments, even if it is not entirely successful. (Neo 2013, Reviewed as part of 37th Hong Kong International Film Festival 2013)

I rated it 6.75/10

The Impossible / Lo imposible 海嘯奇蹟 (2012) – USA / Spain

Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA
Review Date: 27th January 2013
In cinemas around Asia in January 2013

Directed by: Juan Antonio Bayona.
Starring: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland

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With all the Oscar buzz and awards nomination surrounding the latest film from Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona (“The Orphanage”), I must be first to admit that I did not understood the hype. Sure, the disaster proceeding and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami sets up an excellent premises in terms of showing the audience the aftermath of such an extravagant human atrocity. However, “The Impossible” feels every bit average, never rising above its own genre conventions and featuring a highly overrated performance from Naomi Watts. Watts is a wonderful actress and have made far better films, namely “Mulholland Drive” and “21 Grams”. Therefore, the performance here is average at best and most certainly not worthy of its Oscar nomination and Golden Globe nominations. Still, “The Impossible” is visually stunning and even manages to portray the terrible aftermath of a disaster with minimal melodrama.

Naomi Watts tries extremely hard to headline the role of a mother and her never give up attitude is to be admired. However, she spend far too many scenes hiding behind hospital live support and pipes and heavily special effects make up, which in turn makes it extremely hard for the audience to relate to her character. There are some scenes where Watts simply shines, including her insistence on saving an unknown kid in the midst of their own danger and also the scene where she sees the shadow of his missing husband (played by Ewan McGregor). Ewan McGregor appears in nothing more than a glorified cameo, but out of the lot, the bulk of the acting is given to kid actor Tom Holland, who simply shines the role of a determined son, learning and growing stronger in he facof adversity. In fact, it is Holland, not Watts or McGregor who holds the film together for most of the duration and emotional core.

All in all, “The Impossible” is not a bad film, but it is just insanely average and it constantly gives the vibe of something we have all seen before. There is nothing new in the latest disaster flick and it does not help when you add in over-hyped performances from Naomi Watts. Still, director Juan Antonio Bayona manages to depict the horrors of a tsunami event and the painful aftermath that the family needs to go through in finding one another, while not knowing whether they are dead or alive. Perhaps, one thing that strikes me is that the film is based on a true story and the fact that the family manages the impossible of locating one another and survives provides some much needed inspiration. There are good things about “the Impossible”, but as a whole, it really isn’t much. (Neo 2013)

I rated it 6/10