DAY 1 – 06.10.2012 – THAT’S BRIAN MAY AND ANITA DOBSON!
It couldn’t last. It had all been going too well. Having whistled across international borders without a hitch. Having avoided jumping on the non-stop express to Andalucia. Having checked in at the Platjador and pocketed our complementary drink vouchers for the rooftop bar, we’d obviously tempted fate a little too much. Sure enough she bitch-slapped us when we arrived at the Auditori to find that the whole press system had been turned upside down and we wouldn’t be able to see our first film.
We were immediately under pressure but aware that the show must go on we decided to do what we do best at times like this. DRINK. Fortunately, El Cable was in full swing and Manero had us back on track in a Flash.
(DID NOT SEE)
DAY 2 – 07.10.2012 – SHE’S NO ALAN SHEARER
We were perhaps a little over eager to re-address our shaky start to the festival and our first morning on the job had a familiar hangovery feel to it.
To add to the headache the new press ticketing system meant we could only get to see one of our three chosen films for the day.
Not the ideal first film for the festival but it was an opportunity to see this “restored” sentimental classic in all the glory of the Auditori.
Some of Spielberg’s magic had worn a little thin but behind the curtain there were still solid performances from Dee Wallace, Henry Thomas and, in particular, Drew Barrymore. Plus Shaun got to check out some classic 80’s BMXs and Nike apparel.
We were treated to a live performance of sorts from Wallace who’s pre-screening presentation appeared to be fueled by 2 parts vodka and 3 parts Gin.
………with failure to secure tickets for our next two scheduled films that was our quota done for the day and there was now nothing standing between us and the bar.
Aware that it could turn out to be a slow night so long we decided to stop off at Port Alegre and drink in the view of the odd taper jean girl. The El Classico was closer than we realised so we hightailed it to Cafe del Mon to hook up with our on call local correspondent before rounding off the night proper knocked up in El Cable.
(DID NOT SEE)
(DID NOT SEE)
DAY 3 – 08.10.2012 – IT’S LIKE THE THREE STOOGES DOING PORN
What should have been a leisurely start to the day ended up being a ridiculously early one thanks to the new press ticketing system. As if being forced to get up for the 8.30am screening of SIGHTSEERS wasn’t torture enough, we in fact had to fall out of bed an hour earlier (7am) to log in to the festival website and attempt to reserve press tickets for the following day. However, the organisers had clearly sold us a dummy as even at that ungodly hour tickets for the next day’s screenings at the Auditori were not available. Sat on the hotel toilet at 7.01 am trying to figure all this out was not the ideal start to the day for the normally Zen-like Shaun and the bathroom was almost subjected to a Keith Moon style tear-up (Could have been worse. It could have been Jackie Moon)
On the upside Shaun decided this gave him time to shower (it’s never a good thing to be able to smell your own body odour over the aroma of your own shit) so with one half of the team clean and refreshed we skipped off to the Auditori
The spiraling kill-lust of this darkly comedic caravan carve up was handled well by Wheatley and the accompanying special effects were pitch perfect. Even some of the more bizarre set-pieces involving the two leads (Lowe & Oram) played out well on screen, no doubt thanks to the fact that they wrote the screenplay. We wonder how much Executive Producer Edgar Wright had a hand in what was a cracking sound track, or even the Hot Fuzz/Shaun of the dead (ish) feel perhaps
…….So with SIGHTSEERS slightly splitting opinion in the camp (Shaun: Good, Colin: Average) we nipped back to the hotel for Colin to shower and carb up before heading back up to the Auditori for ROBO-G. Unfortunately, film director William Lustig had nicked our seats on Corridorstyle row (something that would happen all too frequently) and we had to make do with a seat in the mixer. Not happy!……..
We’ve not had the greatest of success with Japanese films at the festival and have tended to save our Casa Asia love for Korea. But then nobody does bonkers like the Japanese & Robo-G had the potential to be Bonko-G.
Unfortunately, the film followed some sentimental sad realities of old age rather than any programable pensioner pyrotechnics. We at least did the Peter Crouch robot as we bailed out of the theatre early
….ROBO-G allowed Shaun to catch up on some much needed sleep so it was an easy decision to bail early and take a leisurely stroll back into town to catch our next film…….
Without hesitation we both jumped at the chance to see this classic early Nolan work on the big screen. It’s easy to see why, only two films later, Nolan was chosen to steer the Batman legend back on course.
The relatively straightforward find-a-killer premise is turned upside down & inside out with addition of the retribution seeker’s (Guy Pearce) “condition”, as memories and half truths are overlapped and intertwined ever tighter by Nolan’s screenplay & direction. Stand out performances too from Guy Pearce & Carrie-Anne Moss
…..Fortunately for our short term memory loss (did we tell you about our condition?) it was back-to-back films in the Prado so no sooner had we’d exited Memento than we were straight back in the queue for Keanu Reeves’ documentary Side By Side………
A well timed addition to the festival program as the moviemaking industry seems poised to turn the page on celluloid classics and instead turn its dreams over to digital age. Surprise choice host Keanu Reeves manages to interview a fantastic and diverse array of talking directorial heads, each voicing their opinion on how far film (celluloid) has come, and whether they think it has any further to run. A surprisingly balanced and informative take on recent/modern day film making.
…….That was a wrap for our film-watching day so it was back to the hotel Platjador to kick off the remainder of day 3 with complementary Cava in the rooftop bar. A four-film feast burns fuel so after a quick pit-stop in Donastiarra (best chorizo in Sitges) we settled down in El Cable (best albondigas in town) for the night. Our man with the plan Manero came up trumps with free tickets for a screening the following day so we drank ‘til closing time, keeping just enough in reserve for the already obligatory Will Ferrell fest back at the hotel (SEMI-PRO again)
DAY 4 – 09.10.2012 – I CAN’T TAKE ANYMORE. I’M OUTTA HERE!
……Another early morning (showers were managed but breakfast was swerved) and we were on our way to The Auditori for CHAINED. Dammit! Bloody Lustig’s bagsied our seats again!……
Chosen for it’s slightly skewed take on the serial killer premise, the hints of disturbing darkness, and the chance to see Vincent D’Onofrio turn in a stellar performance, festival favourite Jennifer Lynch unfortunately failed to provide on all three fronts. The film’s main location almost came across as a mock up of itself, as if for some “haunted house” experience at a studio theme park. The chance to look at the actions of D’Onofrio’s monster through different eyes was passed up completely and, biggest disappointment of all, D’Onofrio himself is shackled with poor scenarios and situations, at times bordering on comedic (though the festival jury disagreed and awarded him best actor)
….With what would prove to be a precursor for the rest of the day the team left the rear of the Auditori split down the middle (Shaun’s thumbs pointed skywards while Colin blew raspberries) and straight back through its red carpeted entrance for……..
One of the team has a distinct dislike for Robert Pattinson (it’s probably mutual) but it was a chance to see Cronenberg on the big screen at Sitges and the film at least appeared to have an unconventional format. This big screen aspect was probably wasted as although at times styalised the action mostly takes place in the confines of a limo. This is very much a talky and the subject matter (faithful to Don DeLillo’s novel of the same name) resonates with many of today’s headline themes of money, greed, and power, and how having all or none can lead to one’s self-destruction. It induced a two-fingured salute and a walk out from one of the team but not the Pattinson-hater. While I’ll admit to wincing a little at the film’s pretentiousness, Bob’s delivery kept me (the hater) captivated to the end
……….Here the split-decision was reversed with Shaun calling “stinker” and reaching for the exits early, while Colin ate a piece of Pattinson humble pie and stayed with the Twilight one’s performance to the end.
(DID NOT SEE)
………Unfortunately, our failure to grapple with the press ticketing sytem meant we had to miss Safety Not Guaranteed so with time to waste we strolled to Brigadoon to see what was happening. It turns out there was absolutely nothing happening so answering the protests of our stomachs we hit Lizarran for a plate of Huevas Rotas Con Jamon. Granted, it sounds exotic but it’s pretty much egg, chips and ham. It didn’t half hit the spot though, and if it had been a little lighter on the kitty (€9.50) would have become a staple in our diet. With another couple of hours to burn before our next film we tried a new bar called L’Avinyet for a beer and then stopped for a quickie in C’an Xavi before the Auditori and…..
We can’t claim to be fans of Italian horror films of the 70’s but apart from a hat-tip towards that era of film making this also appeared to be a general homage to the craft that is foley and the powerful effect sound can have on a viewers cinematic experience. An unsuccessful attempt is made to hang a story to the homage but ultimately it’s the look (and sound) of the film that it will live or die by for most viewers, although Toby Jones also turns in a fine performance. On a day where the CorridorStyle team had been split 50/50 on the previous two films the hatrick was completed here with (queue sound affects) 5 golden stars from Colin and a big fat raspberry from Shaun (Two Ronnies style)
………Once more our films were finished by early evening so after stopping for a quick copa on the San Sebastian beach drag we retired to El Cable to do what we do best – get drunk and argue about films…..
DAY 5 – 10.10.2012 – TITS McGHEE AND HER MATE MOUSEY ST CLARE
……..Day 5 started with another team split although this time it was due to fatigue with Colin taking ANTIVIRAL and Shaun getting an extra hour in bed and going to see TOWER BLOCK
Aiming for a perhaps never-to-be repeated one-two, Colin chose to endure the ridiculously early screening of Cronenberg Junior’s first feature film, walking the festival circuit in Dad’s skyscraper shadow. Similar to Cosmopolis in that it chose an unconventional take on a theme very much in today’s spotlight. The cult of celebrity. Unlike Cosmopolis this used visuals rather than words to ponder an extreme yet believable scenario. The visuals were striking and, at times, worthy of Pop’s best, but as writer Brandon showed that he can also craft story, and out of a relatively high concept at that.. A nod also to Caleb Landry Jones with an utterly convincing performance.
I’ll be honest and say that I wasn’t particularly bothered about seeing this, and the only reason I did was that I didn’t want to just lie in bed and do nothing. In the end, coming to see it was marginally better than staying in bed, but just not by much. The characters were fairly one dimensional and some of the acting was a but suspect but what it had in it’s favour was a blinding pace and some good death scenes. Average at best.
………..We reconvened and decided to avoid GRABBERS (the film, not street molesters) and instead plumped for the Animated Shorts in the Retiro
12.45 hrs – RETIRO – ANIMATION SHORTS
While all short entries offered something our personal favourites were:
………It was a Retiro back-to back so we were straight out and into the queue for The King Of Pigs (the film, not the……oh, ok, you get it)
We like to include at least some animation during the festival so when the program presented us with a Korean adult version of the genre we were straight in. A promising start to this story of adults recounting the challenges of the school bullying they faced as kids quickly tailed off. While the style of animation itself was interesting, once the film wandered off into softer territory, without a harder-hitting dark edge, the remains were feeble.
..Somewhat of a rarity for Korean films we bailed before the end as our schedule was tight and we needed to double time it to The Auditori if we were to make our next film. Some of you will already be aware that the concept of Shaun double timing it up to The Auditori does not a happy picture paint but he soldiered on nonetheless and was rewarded with a pre-screening baguette…….
One half of the team had been mightily impressed by Quentin Dupieux’s film RUBBER at Sitges 2010 and fingers were crossed for more of the same unconventional cinema with this story of love lost and dog kidnapping. Unfortunately, while RUBBER was off-kilter it at least entertained, and while all of the same ingredients appeared to be present here, Dupieux somehow failed to bake the same cake. The same distinctive (and impressive) look was retained and he’s certainly not afraid to follow his own path, but perhaps he got lost somewhere on this one. That said I’ll be first in line for his next feature as he’s a unique talent. The same can also be said for Jack Plotnick who amongst all the madness turned in a captivating performance here.
….. And we both definitely considered this the ‘Wrong’ choice (hello……anyone left out there?) and strolled back in to town moaning about the fact that BILL LUSTIG HAD ONCE MORE NICKED OUR FUCKING SEATS!!!!
After a splash & dash back at the hotel we headed out with the intent of painting the town rojo, and that we certainly did. We had naively intended to catch a late screening of THE SOUND OF MY VOICE but it quickly became apparent we were fooling no one. A lot of the night’s a blur but it involved a lot of white wine, watching Sin City in El Cable, more wine and then talking to a couple we christened ‘The Thompson Twins’ before finally being turfed out of The Road Café at closing time and almost going to a gay club looking for the last drink in town. Tomorrow was going to be tough, even for a couple of hardened pros like us.
(DID NOT SEE)
DAY 6 – 11.10.2012 – SHE’S GOT A TOUCH OF TOM SELLECK ABOUT HER
……..As E.T would say, “Ouch!” Originally we’d half planned to see Pieta at 9am but sailed straight through that alarm. Then, we were planning on seeing Sinister at 11am but unfortunately sailed straight through that one too. Eventually waking at 11.15am with the realization that we are a pair of idiots, Colin went down for breakfast while Shaun stayed in bed contemplating his actions. Once we’d then showered and given ourselves a shake we realized that all was not lost and staggered blinking into the sunlight to see a shorts session at The Retiro
(DID NOT SEE)
(DID NOT SEE)
12.45 hrs – RETIRO – SHORTS (IN COMPETITION)
Another mixed bag in terms of story but there were at least some impressive visual/creative ideas on display. Our personal favourites were:
……..The walk up to The Auditori starts to become a bit of an ask at this point of the festival, and that’s without having to simultaneously nurse the mother of all hangovers. A Can Xavi coffee was therefore in order before tackling the next film.
Luckily our love (man-love) for Simon Pegg drove us beyond the poor reviews and into the theatre for this Crispian Mills (Kula Shaker) first feature. It’s not unfair to wonder how well this film would have worked with anyone but Pegg in the lead role as his character inhabits 90% of the screen time, but boy was he the right man for the job. Perhaps it’s fair to say that Mills, who also wrote the screenplay, had Pegg in mind and should be credited with bringing the whole package together. This is a visually impressive directorial debut and, as you’d expect, comes with the bonus of a great soundtrack. Not for the first time at this festival the (not so) invisible hand of Edgar Wright appeared to leave its finger prints on a film ( see also Sightseers) but its great to see the Brits putting in a strong showing. We’ll be interested to see Mills’ next project
……..With our hangover clearing and moods brightening thanks to Simon Pegg’s performance, we decided to do what you are all by now expecting; find somewhere to get a proper drink. We were still too fatigued for our planned night out in Barcelona so we decided to check out an old haunt, The Rock Café, but stayed only briefly as the good old days of the €1 glass of wine & great Spotify play-lists look to be a distant memory.
After seeing a flyer for a new Sitges burger bar we were in the process of locating, BIG AL’s, when we got the call from our local drinking buddy to come meet up in LA MENTA. As we tucked into our Quesadillas and Piadinas, and attempted to entice our buddy to break their vow of only having one glass of wine, we noticed a group of UK film types at the table next to us, included Ryan Haysom whose short film Yellow had screened as part of the shorts presentation we’d seen earlier. We were going to say hello but the conversation (and Mojitos) looked to be in full swing so we decided to bolt.
We’d failed in our attempts to recruit an additional drinking partner for the night so it was familiar footfall down to El Cable where we found ourselves being alarmingly eyed up by some French, chapel hat-pegged munters with impressive facial hair. They seemed to think that it was actually us checking them out, when we were really just watching Ghost Rider on the flat screen above their heads (which is probably the biggest insult you could pay anyone)……..
DAY 7 – 12.10.2012 – IT’S LIKE THE TITANIC BUT FULL OF BEARS
……Amazingly we were both up and fairly hangover free but Shaun’s insistence on over-eating quite spectacularly at breakfast meant that the walk up to the Auditori for our first film was still a struggle.
Another film where we would have been better off avoiding the reviews. After reading the cast list this was immediately promoted to our must-see list but then the nagging doubts started to creep in as reviews talked of “missed opportunities” and disappointing, lackluster performances. WTF do they know?! I defy anyone to watch this and not marvel at yet another Christopher Walken performance that lifts the cinematic soul. Sure, it’s obvious it’s Walken playing Walken, only in a different role, but I’d gladly pay my Dollar over and over to watch him play pitch perfect Walken over and over. And we may be a little biased here at CS but Sam Rockwell matches him blow for blow and turns in psychopathic tour de force. McDonagh handles the ensemble cast and over-lapping storyline with aplomb, and there’s another great soundtrack to boot, but it’s the two starring roles (sorry Farrell) that make this well worth your time.
………….As if the Walken ‘n’ Rockwell show wasn’t reason enough to celebrate we went straight into our next back-to back Auditori film and cheered some more as we’d managed to re-claim Corridorstyle Row:
Though we’re not your typical fans of this type of horror genre the names attached to this project read like a who’s-who of the Sitges festival, and it was good to see so many of the directors appear on stage at The Auditori before the screening. We treated this like a chance to see 26 short films in quick succession rather than any single homage to the genre. Each director given a $5000 budget to deliver a short film about death for each letter of the alphabet.
As is often the case with us and short ensembles this was more hit than miss and it’s hard to imagine anyone but the devoted fan leaving the theatre buzzing, though buzzing they most definitely will be.
……Even though we weren’t massively impressed with ABC’s Of Death, we were still on a high from getting our seats back so Shaun steamed straight in and bought a limited edition Oldboy T-Shirt from one of the stalls by the beach.
After a quick change back at the hotel and then a fly-by at The Trocadero to check if the England game was on later we decided to see if we could find Big Al’s Burgers. We actually found it but it was just closing so we ended up having a quick drink in Tapas Baron on Cheesy Street. Not long after we’d sat down the heavens opened and tropical storm “go fuck yourself” was unleashed. After sitting opposite a guy who was unashamedly farting in our general direction we decided to brave the torrential rain and hit Trocadero for the football. Despite the fact that it wasn’t much more than 100 yards between the bars we got absolutely soaked and then faced a nervous wait to see if they would have the match commentary on. Due to the zombie walk Sitges was crammed full of the undead and we have to admit that it’s the first time we’ve watched an England match with curry eating zombies. Following on from England’s underwhelming victory, we finally made it to Big Al’s where we ate good but over-priced burgers
DAY 8 – 13.10.2012 – YAKUZA MEANS “HOT BISCUIT” IN JAPANESE
……..In previous years the thought of getting up for a 9.15am showing on our last full day would have invoked a proper strop, swiftly followed by the realization that it was just not going to happen. However, this was the only chance for us to see Rian Johnson’s Looper so we made sure we were in plenty of time to claim our seats on Corridorstlye Row
Having missed out on the chance to see some of our earmarked films earlier in the festival we were stacking most of our chips in Rian Johnson’s corner. We needn’t have worried. Johnson grabbed our attention back at Sitges 2005 with his incredible feature debut BRICK. It would be just as easy to get caught up with the unconventional aspects of that film as it would now with LOOPER, but that would be to miss Johnson’s talent for also delivering great conventional story elements. Looper is high concept but it’s delivered with sound narrative. There will be those that look for holes in this time traveling, hit-man, gang land thriller but, rather than serving to distract, the sci-fi element just piles on the thrills. Willis, Levitt, Daniels and Gagnon (incredible child performance) excell. A resounding 5 out of 5 and best film of the festival by far.
……Looper totally knocked us sideways and we chirped away like excited 13 year olds before going straight into our next film……..
We erroneously expected this to be a Korean OCEAN’S ELEVEN which partly took place in Hong Kong (well, Macao). What we actually got was a Hong Kong style Soderbergh crime caper with some Korean acting talent and dialogue thrown in. With a decent ensemble cast including such talents as Yun-seok Kim and Simon Yam it was disappointing to see this go the way of so many Hong Kong (style) films of past festivals. Unnecessary plot twists and overly-sentimental character threads strewn all over the place, totally distracting the viewer from what we suspect is excellent filmmaking, if only it could be stripped back.
……..The highs of Looper proved too tough an act to follow for The Thieves and we ended up sacking it off early for food and drinks in the nearby café before going into our final film of the festival…..
Impressed with Kitano’s first pass at this Yakuza gang land tale at Sitges in 2010 (OUTRAGE) we were keen to see whether he’d take the scheming violence to another level. We were actually given more of the same but that was no bad thing as the level of back-stabbing deception presented in the first installment always felt like it could go on ad infinitum. OUTRAGE BEYOND worked as a fitting extension of the revenge carried over (almost like a single feature presented in two parts) with Beat himself at the centre of the chaos, turning in another masterclass in “Hard-boiled” bad ass.
(DID NOT SEE)
…….We left The Auditori arguing over the minutia of Looper and time travel and were still arguing about it through drinks at Port Allegrae and on into a small bar in town where we’re pretty sure the bartender was calling us Maricons. Ah well! We were arguing like a married couple after all. We hooked up with local correspondent Karen in Presso for drinks and black pudding before drinking and eating our way through El Cable and down on to Don Mojito’s on the front (not to be confused with Mojito’s & Co.). After helping Karen home we still had enough in the tank to stagger to The Road Café (which we still call Hernan’s) to say adios to old friends and rattle some night caps.
2012 BLOG – DAY 9 – 14.10.2012 – IF YOU COULD LOOP BACK AND WATCH THE FESTIVAL AGAIN, WOULD YOU? COULD YOU?
We are both fairly experienced travelers and by now should know that the optimum way to travel isn’t hungover, dizzy and shaking like a shitting dog. Unfortunately, that was the state we were in and and you have to play the cards you’re dealt, so we headed off to the airport and said goodbye to the festival for another year.