Spanish wunderkind Jaime Rosales (shown below) is back this year at Spanish Cinema Now with his latest -- DREAM AND SILENCE (Sueño y silencio) -- and while it is nowhere near the level of his first two films, it marks at least a measured return to the kind of movie that will not entirely alienate an audience.
Rosales' stationery camera is as effective as ever, except in the funeral scene, where it is simply set up way too far from the event itself (and for three times the length needed) so that our fidgeting/
annoyance level grows to immense proportions, as we try to figure why in hell we're here and what it is the filmmaker wants us to see.
Throughout, the beautiful, widescreen, black-and-white cinematography by Óscar Durán is the jewel in this somewhat fragmented crown. The film begins with an artist at work and ends with an artist once again working -- but this time in color (below). You can ponder awhile and probably come up with a sensible reason or two for the switch. But when color intrudes in the middle of the film, for maybe half a minute and for no apparent reason, as grandfather sits behind the wheel of the car, you'll be flummoxed. What's the point here? To remind us of what color looks like? Or maybe as a test for dozing sleepyheads?
In both La Soledad and Rosales' first film The Hours of the Day (about the life and work of a serial killer), the filmmaker found so many ways -- via honest, specific and challenging connections, dialog and events -- for us to enter the central situations that he managed to offer reality, avoid melodrama and rivet our interest and concern. I hope he finds a way in his future films, whatever their subject matter, to do this again.
Spanish Cinema Now, tonight, Thursday, December 13, at 8:30 pm. Click the link above to see all of this year's programs, finished or still ahead.