06.10.09 – DAY 4 – Shaun! Stay away from the light.

We’re going to run out of alternative ways to write this but…….we awoke bleary eyed from another late night. This time we had the excuse that a welcome party was necessary for Shaun’s back-up team of his Sister Em and her girlfriend Laura (now officially enrolled as CS squad numbers 3 and 4). It was weary troops that made their way to the first film of the day

THE FORBIDDEN DOOR – PRADO – 11:00HRS

Any film that made our list based purely on the fact that the poster had a man wearing a pig mask and wielding an axe shouldn’t come with high expectations. Our primary aim was to stay awake.

Our protagonist, Gambir, should have been content with life. A commercially successful sculptor, a beautiful wife, and all the trappings of success. However, each of his masterpieces held a dark secret within, a secret he was finding harder and harder to live with. Already strung out, Gambir discovers a locked hidden door in his basement which his wife forbids him to open and it’s this final straw that starts him down a path towards his final masterpiece – His last supper.

A story concept which held some interest was ultimately too drawn out and poorly executed as the plot would advance, stop, be diverted, forgotten, and ultimately rendered meaningless as it transpired that the filmmaker’s main aim was to include his own blood soaked masterpiece which, in itself, was enjoyable enough but not sufficient to hang the remainder of the film on.

…..Time to navigate the dangerous hours between films over the lunchtime period. El Cable provided the venue with the light entertainment that is BATMAN FOREVER thrown in for free. The soon forgotten Val Kilmer turn behind the mask. Where did it all go wrong Val? Fed and watered we were ready to tackle another dose of sci-fi

CARGO – EL RETIRO – 16:00HRS

The film’s Swiss director, Ivan Engler, gave a brief introduction prior to the screening and spoke of the difficulty of making a film in Switzerland, and the near impossibility of making a sci-fi film in Switzerland. This one took 8 years to complete and with only a small budget of €1.2 million required a big team effort from all involved.

The craft and effort was certainly evident in the finished article. Excellent CGI established the enormity and desolation of the space these future worlds moved in and excellent production design and characterization gave the world at a personal level total believability. A Matrix-esque story was married with an Alien-esque environment to great effect. Each character’s personal motivations manipulated the story as well as the other characters and ensured that the plot was revealed with great timing and effect.

……..We later saw the director of CARGO cut a lonely figure at a restaurant table and we wanted to join him, put an arm around him, and let him know that his small film from little old Switzerland had made a big impact on our festival – but we didn’t. He’ll instead have to read our praise here as we’d got refueling to do before our next film. El Cable was again the pit-stop of choice (Memento gracing the bar’s flat screen this time) before our highly anticipated date with Charles Bronson.

BRONSON – PRADO – 21:15HRS

As we mentioned in our preview, Tom Hardy had got our attention in last year’s ROCKNROLLA so a film hung largely on his performance was something to look forward to. He didn’t disappoint.

Hardy had some brave decisions to make if he was to embrace the director’s portrayal of England’s most notorious (and violent) criminal. Refn gave a brief introduction before the screening and he mentioned that the film had taken on a new identity during its creation. One can assume that this was due in part to the evolution of the subject matter as it was mined from Michael Peterson, the real-life character at the centre of the film, but no doubt also due to Hardy’s total conviction to the role. Physically altering his appearance, an essential part of the character’s menace, and taking Bronson’s psychotic persona to extreme levels (stripping yourself naked, covering yourself in vaseline, and wrestling with several prison guards doesn’t make you a shoe-in for an Oscar)

We feel that mention of the film lacking any real story was misplaced because, as mentioned by Refn, this was essentially an autobiographical account of events and, as such, unfurled as randomly as any account of our own lives might (though perhaps not as violently). Peterson always knew he had a “calling”, he just didn’t know what for. By having himself immortalised on screen, perhaps his calling was merely his existence. What he was, rather than why or how he came to be.

It was good to see that the film translated well into Catalan/Spanish as the predominantly local audience rolled with every punch. So much so that Carlos, one of our Catalan friends who saw the film with us, proudly stood up as the end credits rolled, flexed his biceps and said “I’m Charlie boy”.

…….The night was seen out with a liberal discussion over a few cold ones on the merits of the UK correction system, full-frontal nudity, and prolific use of the “C” word. Magic!

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