EDIT! I failed to include Pedro Costa, which is a crime against the cinephile gods. Anyway, I added Colossal Youth and dumped Birdsong.
1. Viridiana (Luis Buñuel)
2. Spirit of the Beehive (Victor Erice)
3. Doomed Love (Manoel de Oliveira)
4. Francisca (Manoel de Oliveira)
5. Las Hurdes (Luis Buñuel)
6. In the City of Sylvia (Jose Luis Guerin)
7. Colossal Youth (Pedro Costa)
8. Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro)
9. I’m Going Home (Manoel de Oliveira)
10. The Stillness Before Bach (Pere Portabella)
The movie with the best images from Douro I have seen is actually “Rio do Ouro” from Paulo Rocha. The afternoon daylight he captures of Douro is outstanding. The movie is actually quite good.
I believe Pedro Costa, Manoel de Oliveira, and Cesar Monteiro are somewhat represented outside Portugal, even if not extensively. These are the Portuguese filmmakers with the most distinctive style of their own.
I simply give you my favorite Bunuel/Almodovar/de Oliveira, as those are the directors I am the most crazy about. Maybe I should expand my horizons. I haven’t been thrilled with Cesar Monteiro necessarily, but neither is he a poor filmmaker.
Bunuel – Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz
Almodovar – All About My Mother
de Oliveira – A Talking Picture
What a great list you got there Andre, I’m glad someone mentioned João César Monteiro.
I would like to suggest two more Monteiro’s films.
Recordações da casa amarela (1989) – The first part of a trilogy where Monteiro plays the main character, his alter-ego João de Deus.
Último Mergulho (1992) – An amazing journey into the night of Lisbon through the hand of a middle-aged man who show us some of the pleasures of life. Truly an invitation to live.
The Sea Inside
The Devil’s Backbone
Open Your Eyes
Looking at this list it’s clear to me that I’m only scratching the surface of Spanish cinema – these are the films that have broken through to the mainstream outside Spain. Well, lucky me I suppose – I’ve a bunch of great films to seek out :o)
Fernando, feel free to add more for a full 10- they can include ones already chosen. Yes, Recollections of the Yellow House may be Monteiro’s most famous.
Andre, thanks i’ve just seen O Patio das Cantigas. I didn’t understand some of the dialogue but i got the main gist and relationships and luckily a lot of the humour is visual. It’s one of the merriest little films i’ve seen, full of Portuguese warmth, not just like Lubitsch but it also reminded me a bit of Britain’s Oh Mr Porter and the amusing likeable characters of Pagnol’s Marseille trilogy. Is that the the director as Rufino? If so, that brings to mind Monteiro as eccentric actor-director. It has lots of charm and great to meet new personalities of Portuguese cinema like Vasco Santana and Antonio Silva. Even a singer in the film called Amalia! It was over all too quickly, i could happily have spent a lot more time with that lot, excellent cast all round.
City Girl, thanks for the votes. Erm, i’m not sure i can allow Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz, as even with Bunuel being Spanish it’s officially Mexican. Otherwise i’d have to open up the poll to all sorts of Mexican films. Sorry.
Kenji, I don’t know if you already saw it but try “Canção de Lisboa”, 1933, also starring Vasco Santana and António Silva. And you can see Manuel de Oliveira as an actor.
No, that’s very early. I’ve not seen much from that period- Douro Faina Fluvial (which Oliveira started making in 1929, meaning if he makes a film next year that’ll be 10 different decades as a film-maker!), Maria do Mar.. I’d like to see Oliveira in his youth cos i’m so used to photos of him since his 70s. He was a bit of an all-round sportsman wasn’t he, racing driver, tennis player, looks like he’s kept very fit.
I am happy you liked Patio das Cantigas!That’s as portuguese as it gets. I guess you are ready to become a citizen :)
Rufino is indeed the director. The pair Vasco Santana and Antonio Silva is IMMENSELY popular in Portugal. I doubt you will ever find anyone with more than 40 yrs old that hasn’t watched any their movies.
You know i was thinking when watching Patio das Cantigas about that very issue of Salazar’s dictatorship and 2 such charming films on your list from 1942- in WW2 as well! It did strike me the dictator wouldn’t disapprove of something cosy and keeping people’s spirits up generally without any obvious dangerous subtext. I also doubt many dictators and their lackeys like obscure films that are too arty or complex or cast a questioning eye on things. It’s noticeable Oliveira’s career really took off after 1974 and he’s made up for lost time. I’d be surprised if that was just a coincidence. In any event, dictatorship or no, the inextinguishable warmth and spirit of the Portuguese spirit shine through in Patio das Cantigas.
I don’t know if you’ve seen any of the popular 1950s British comedies with Norman Wisdom; they were very big in Albania under Enver Hoxha.
A feel-good film i picked in my 10 is Belle Epoque from Spain that won the Oscar. It’s very amiable and unpretentious, warm and sexy – with a likeable young army deserter who finds himself in a house with 4 very pretty and fetching sisters…and some not very surprising results. For me, trumpet-blowing Ariadna Gil (probably best known as the mother in Pan’s Labyrinth) comes out on top, but it was the youngest Penelope Cruz who’s become the biggest star.
El espíritu de la colmena (The Spirit of the Beehive / Víctor Erice)
Todo sobre mi madre (All About My Mother / Pedro Almodóvar)
Cría cuervos (Carlos Saura)
Cómo ser infeliz y disfrutarlo (How to Be Unhappy and Enjoy It / Enrique Urbizu)
Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios (Women on the verge… / P. Almodóvar)
Viridiana (Luis Buñuel)
Los santos inocentes (The Holy Innocents / Mario Camús)
El sol de membrillo (The Quince Tree Sun / V. Erice)
Soldados de Salamina (Soldiers of Salamina / David Trueba)
La vaquilla (Luis García Berlanga)
Gracias! I’m surprised by the shortage of votes for Berlanga’s El Verdugo/The Executioner, very highly rated by many in Spain isn’t it?. Can you say something about the Urbizu and Trueba films? I like the Urbizu title.
The Urbizu film is a rather light, fluffy, Almodovar-esque comedy with Carmen Maura… and quite perfect as such, it seemed to me. I want to see more films from him.
Soldiers of Salamina is a drama with the great, underrated Ariadna Gil. She plays an novelist investigating en elusive Spanish Civil War soldier-survivor whose life was spared by an enemy soldier. The movie is very haunting and sincere in presenting the torment the Civil War meant for Spain. It’s based on a novel by Javier Cercas.
I think Berlanga’s most celebrated film is Bienvenido, Mr. Marshall (Welcome, Mr. Marshall). I have not seen that one nor The Executioner… nor many other staples of Spanish cinema, such as Saura’s COUSIN ANGELICA, José Luis Borau’s FURTIVOS or Buñuel’s THAT OBSCURE OBJECT OF DESIRE.
Oooh Ariadna Gil’s in it? Actually i should have guessed she might be, isn’t she married to Trueba (or is it the other?) She’s been great in my mind, since i saw her in Belle Epoque. She did a grand macho strut!
I never met Salazar but I would expect him to be fonder of Patio das Cantigas than Aniki-Bobo. In Patio the characters are straight out goofy and its their naivety that fills the screen with tenderness. In Aniki-Bobo the kids, due to their lack of means, are already well rounded and have no qualms in breaking the law, which is not the type of behavior that dictatorial regimes like to see.
I believe the reason why Oliveira stopped making films was because he hat to find ways of fully supporting his family, which would be hard to do directing films unless he took a more nationalistic approach. An episode which is regularly cited in Portugal is the fact that the only time Pessoa (our best poet ever) got some statewide recognition was when he publish Mensagem, which on a superficial level can be read as an exaltation of patriotic values. I do find Aniki incredible in tune with the style of Ossesione and Rome, Open City.
My knowledge of british comedies is all post Benny Hill, which I found hilarious. I have never seen La Belle Epoque so I guess now it is a good time to put that into order. Thanks for the tip.
Belle Epoque is no artistic masterpiece, i just happen to like it, mainly cos i was very taken with Ariadna Gil, and the oldest sister too really, and its warm cheerful disposition- enough in this instance to satisfy me. Lust as much as intellect. It also has the advantage of Fernando Fernan Gomez as the father, best known for Spirit of the Beehive probably but a worthy director in his own right apparently. Fans of Y Tu Mama Tambien may be interested to see a younger Maribel Verdu as another sister.
I could do with spending time on Pessoa again, i did read part of his Book of Disquiet, it occurred to me i approached it in the completely wrong way (i’m terrible for giving up on books- long interruptions or breaks don’t help). I thought it would take a great director (greater than Meirelles) to do justice to Blindness by Saramago, but i’ve not seen the film yet.
Norman Wisdom was the working class little guy who runs rings round establishment (big business, the military, politicians…) pomposity- eg Norman on Parade Square sequence in The Square Peg on youtube
I wonder if Bunuel made any films in Spain? It seems he worked in Mexico and France quite a bit, but he is Spanish.
So hmm, Marco Ferreri was an Italian director, but he made El Cochecito in Spain, so I guess I’ll replace my Bunuel pick with that one. Thanks! :)
Las Hurdes and Viridiana are Spanish Bunuel films.
Tristana, That Obscure Object Of Desire and The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie are Spanish co-productions.
My favorite Pessoa’s poetry is the poems he wrote under the heteronym Alvaro de Campos. It is possibly the book that I have read more times in my life and never ceased to amaze me.
I wonder why The Flower of My Secret is not cited more often as among the best Almodovar films. I think it is the movie where he really took it to a next level. I surely enjoyed his prior movies but this was the first one that he handled melodrama perfectly. I haven’t seen a more tender movie from him.
I can’t believe I’m the only person on the forum who enjoys Spanish horror films. Many of the films I listed are very political in nature and made by artists who worked with Welles, Bunuel, etc.
And if my vote for Tristina doesn’t count I’ll give it to Almodovar’s High Heels.
Kimberley, your vote for Tristana does count.
That’s good to know, but I do really like High Heels too. I’m really awful at making numbered lists. I hate the idea of placing one film’s value over another, but these kinds of exercises can be fun too.
i’m bumping this up before i forget it and it gets lost. Probably give it another week, for more votes please
I’d hate to be main stream but
Habla Con Ella has to be there for sure.
do a top 10 if you want, Jose
Keep in mind that for me this is definitely favorites and not best. My knowledge on this is still developing.
Viridiana – Bunuel
Casa De Lava- Pedro Costa
Spirit of the Beehive – Erice
Non, or the Vain Glory of Command – Oliveira
The Silence Before Bach – Portabella
Pan’s Labyrinth – Del Toro
Volver – Almodovar
I could throw in a few more Almodovar titles to make it ten but I’m kind of annoyed that most of what i’ve seen of this rich cinema is Almodovar. He’s good but I suspect that the titles some of you have mentioned would blow a lot of his work out of my list.
Ah, now The Silence Before Bach i really must see.
It’s something special. It sounds like a cliche but I have never seen anything quite like it. Also, Jonathan Rosenbaum has reported that a big boxset of all of Portabella’s films is due next year.
Well, i’ve only seen the one, Vampir (in fact this was in Rosenbaum’s 1000 top films list) which i liked, but know very little otherwise. The trailer for Silence before Bach looks very enticing