Wednesday, October 15, 2014

For a VERY good time, stream Álex de la Iglesia's WITCHING & BITCHING

Feminism (in a pretty odd manner, I grant you), parenting, horror, comedy, and Spain's current economic crisis make wonderfully strange bedfellows in Álex de la Iglesia's newest genre jumper, the delightfully wicked and funny WITCHING & BITCHING. De la Iglesia, pictured below, has always been a kind of throwback -- to genres and decades past -- yet he does this with such enjoyment and full-out capacity to entertain that his movies are often near-irresistible because they are so much fun. This new one certainly is.

The filmmaker is in fine fettle as he tells the tale of a gold heist gone terribly, hilariously awry, and a "getaway" that takes our rather feeble-minded heroes into the home of a coven of witches who are planning a very big and well-attended bar-be-cue bash, with our boys providing the main dish. In that getaway car is our hero (hot guy, Hugo Silva, below, and yes he's dressed as Jesus Christ: costuming is part of the fun of the opening scene)-- separated from his wife and constantly bitching about her behavior (men against women is a very prominent theme here), with the director coming down on neither side -- who brings his little boy to the heist, in order to spend more quality time with the kid.

Also along for the ride is the hero's not-too-swift assistant, whom he barely knows and who spends his time complaining about his uber-sexy girlfriend and his having to perform sexual acts far too often; the driver whose cab the two robbers have hijacked; and that cab's poor passenger, who only wants to get to a nearby city because of a possible job opportunity. In Spain's current economy, your heart will go out to this terribly put-upon passenger.

The witches are a nasty, funny and -- in one case, Carolina Bang (above)-- gorgeous, and their leader is played by the fabulous Spanish actress Carmen Maura (center, left, below), who brings her usual vitality and crazy specificity to the role. The men here are often so misogynistic that the movie can't help but seem feminist with men this stupid, and yet de la Iglesias balances things out by having the witches brand of feminism so crudely anti-male and over-the-top (the movie's "monster" is indeed something to see) that it keeps you quite off balance.

The special effects are so bound into the story told here that they seem both amazing and old-fashioned, and the filmmaker's sense of fun and frolic manages to overwhelm everything in its path. Overall, in fact, at this point in their careers, I'd have to rate de la Iglesias slightly above Guillermo del Toro so far as genuinely effective, thought-provoking and entertaining movies are concerned. Witching & Bitching -- from IFC Midnight, running 113 minutes, and which was called Las brujas de Zugarramurdi in its original language -- became available to stream on Netflix only yesterday, October 14, so watch it soon and weigh in with your opinion.

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