Sunday, August 29, 2010

One of the best films this year, and perhaps a favorite of all time

If you have not seen it yet (and chances are good that you haven't), this year's winner of the 2010 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film; "El Secreto de Sus Ojos” ("The Secret In Their Eyes") is one the more luscious films I have seen since, well, not that long ago actually. Earlier this year we saw "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo". (Sadly, the Swedish original is being remade for release in the USA. That is a mistake, but that is another story.)
"The Secret In Their Eyes" is an Argentinean film with a script that thumbs it's nose at the formulaic pap that Hollywood so often delivers to the screen in your neighborhood. Majestic in scope, space, and time, and set against the backdrop of a corrupted dictatorial government, its central theme is of the epic struggle between good versus evil. The former is embodied in our protagonist, an investigator for the criminal court of justice, while the latter is embodied both in one of his political enemies, and also a diabolical thrill killer, both parts played by capable actors. But that is hardly all. The story line also explores and resolves themes of unrequited love, political corruption, revenge, Quixotic investigative work, commitment to friendship, the tenacity of justice that is sometimes wrought by ordinary men in extraordinary circumstances. Perhaps as much as any of these rich tableaux, is the theme of how a lost opportunity can haunt you for life. As I watched it I thought of films like “Dr. Zhivago”, “Z”, “Citizen X”, or “The Night Of The Generals”.
"Cinema is an old whore, like circus or variety, who knows how to give many kinds of pleasure.
Besides, you can't teach old fleas new dogs."
- Frederico Fellini

This is one of those films that you will want to curl up with at a quiet moment. Lock up the house and take the phone off the hook. By all means see it with someone, but preferably someone who will not need to ask a question every time there is a flashback. The Spanish is rich and beautiful and the voices equally so. Use the English subtitles. There will come a moment in the film when you will want to dissipate nervous energy with some crunching. Have some popcorn and your favorite beverage on standby. (Hold the butter and use a bit of celery or garlic salt).
The film is available in non-USA PAL format from Amazon (or presumably others). I would suggest you wait until the September 21st USA formatted release in DVD or better yet, BluRay if you have the player.
Otherwise, you will need multi-region PAL/NTSC DVD player to view it in USA/Canada: LANGUAGES: Spanish ( Dolby Digital 5.1 ), English ( Subtitles ), Spanish ( Subtitles ), WIDESCREEN (2.35:1), SPECIAL FEATURES: Anamorphic Widescreen, Commentary, Filmographies, Interactive Menu, Scene Access, Trailer(s), SYNOPSIS: Set in Argentina, The Secret in Their Eyes stars Ricardo Darin as Benjamin, a retired public attorney whose last request from the office involves a file regarding an unsolved case from the 1970s. Told in flashback, it was Benjamin who was responsible for the prosecution in the murder of a innocent newlywed bride. A new minted attorney in his office at the time, Irene (Soledad Villamil), works on the investigation as well, and her relationship with Benjamin plays out both in the past and present. As the mystery begins to provide answers, the truth could cleanse the sins of the past. SCREENED/AWARDED AT: Cinema Writers Circle Awards, Spain, Goya Awards, Academy Award (Oscar) for Best Foreign Film.