Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Best Movie I Saw This Week: Stella Cadente

This has been a pretty light week with only six films (it's what happens when you are rewatching Friends and watching Pushing Daisies) but still there have been two monumental films. Since a lot of poetic has been waxed over Murnau's film (not that it doesn't deserve it), I chose to talk about the other one. And that film is Stella Cadente (Luis Miñarro, 2014).

A man looking into the camera tells us that he's been asked to be king of Spain. The man is Amadeo de Saboya and will be king of Spain for only three years. He has very progressive ideas both politically and in his personal life. His views on government and politics are the part drawn from history. He wanted to modernise the cities, to improve the quality of education and to have a monarchy with a Parliament. In the film, he even describes himself as a republican king. The film extends this progressiveness into his personal life and has him being a vegetarian and very open-minded about sexuality. 

This is not your regular biopic. This film is what would happen if Marie Antoinette by Sofia Coppola (2006) and an experimental film had a child and the child turned to be gay. From Marie Antoinette it gets that sense of ennui in someone who has everything but can do nothing. From the experimental filmmaking it gets anachronistic music, voice-overs out of nowhere and a sense of not taking things too seriosuly. As for its being gay, there is a lot of homoeroticism in the film, mainly because two characters (the king's valet and a lackey) are infatuated with the king, not only in a sexual way, but also in a spiritual manner. This leads them to several actions by which they try to get closer to the monarch.

The cast is terrific. Àlex Brendemühl plays Amadeo with a tremendous sensibility and with an amazing dead-pan-ish sense of humour. His assistant is the not shy at all (he doesn't have any reasons, he is gorgeous) Lorenzo Balducci. The lackey is played by Àlex Batllori in a manner that would make Visconti proud. And, being actressexuals as we are, we cannot forget the women. Amadeo's wife is brought to life by the wonderful actress who should be cast in everything Bárbara Lennie and the cook is played by a very fun and game Lola Dueñas.

Technically, the film is a delight. It is filmed in a crisp digital image that is not off-putting at all as it sometimes can be. In fact, it contrasts beautifully with the decorations and the costumes which are amazing. As I mentioned the film has a playful experimental side and we get jumpcuts, a series of shots thought as slides in and old-timey projector, a dance moment that is simply great and a lot of other small details that make this movie a truly delicious one.

Other films I watched this week:
Tumbleweeds (Gavin O'Connor, 1999)
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (F.W. Murnau, 1927)
The Good Earth (Sidney Franklin, 1937)
Edge of Tomorrow (Doug Liman, 2014)
Hermosa Juventud (Jaime Rosales, 2014)

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