Friday, March 20, 2015

Streaming tip: Caldera, Garrido & Valor's goofy delight, GHOST GRADUATION, is finally available

Another in the seemingly endless array of wonderful films from Spain, GHOST GRADUATION (Promoción fantasma), which I covered when it made its New York premiere during the FSLC's late-and-much-lamented annual series, Spanish Cinema Now, is finally streamable via Netflix and elsewhere. This goofy little comic/supernatural gem tracks an adult teacher from his school days onwards, as he comes to grips with an ability to see ghosts when no one else can. When he befriends an ill-fated group of these -- high school students killed in a fire a couple of decades back -- and they him, an increasingly funny, surprising and finally sweetly moving story comes to life (and also, well, to death).

As written with charm and smarts by Cristóbal Garrido and Adolfo Valor and directed with style and barely a misstep by Antonio Ruiz Caldera, the movie -- from its wonderful opening scene at a school dance to its final "dab away those tears" finale, the film combines a fine story with characterizations richer than this genre usually offers, excellent performances and a just-about-perfect use of special effects, as needed.

There's a delightful subplot involving our hero (the usual great job by Raúl Arévalo, at left, two photos above, shown with Alexandra Jiménez) and his shrink and the shrink's dead father -- Luis Varela (above, left) and Joaquin Reyes (above, right).

Most of all, however, it's that group of students, shown at right -- all deceased, except for the young lady, bottom right -- who manage to make this movie so much fun and so full of small surprises and charms. Look for that crack Spanish comic actor Carlos Areces (from The Last Circus) in a plum role, too.

So whenever you're in the mood for something feel-good that's actually "earned" (or as earned as any tale of the supernatural can be), start streaming -- and have a lovely time. (I suspect that fans of that fine Spanish TV series Grand Hotel will enjoy this film, too.)

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