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.


dr.antony said...

I came here through Q P cooks. I didnt quite unerstand the name and wanted to ask her as well.

Your favourites appeared to be many of my favourites too.Having bored with the Hollywood movies,I used to google for other language movies and Academy awards than Oscars.
I liked your review.I will defenitely see this and let you know how I feel about it, not that it matters. Our opinions do not change any thing.
Did you see Pars Labirynth ? and The Vanishing? You might like thenm.

"Simplifried" said...

Hi dr.anthony, many thanks for the comment. (I get them so rarely). Pan's Labyrinth is a hands down favorite of mine and though I haven't sat and thought this through, I think it would be amongst my top ten of all times. Roget Ebert, whom I have followed since living in Chicago in the seventies, called it a "fairy tale for adults". I could not agree more and remember thinking that it had The Fellowship Of The Ring trilogy of movies outclassed by a long way. I assume that your reference to The Vanishing is to the 1988 Dutch film and not the 1993 Hollywood adaptation in English with Jeff Bridges and Kiefer Sutherland. Both movies were great, but the original Dutch version is a tense a drama as can be delivered. By return could I suggest that you try to obtain the DVD releases of the Swedish trilogy based on the Millennium Trilogy written by Swede Stieg Larsson. These are, in chronological order, "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo", "The Girl Who Played With Fire", and "The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest". All three, thrillers to be sure, are barely disguised commentary on the undercurrent of repressed emotions and violence that the author views as almost institutionalized in Sweden. I highly recommend them as taut thrillers with themes that hold a mirror up to the worse elements of human behavior imagineable. Not all of my favorites are themed as such. One of them is "Cinema Paradiso" a paean to the love of cinema and especially the nostalgia that cinema can arouse in us. Night and day difference from the movies mentioned above. My wife's use of the term Quaypo, (more often romanized as Guaypo) is the female version of a derogatory term Guay Lo, which means "devil man" in Cantonese. It is the term that the Cantonese speaking part of China has reserved for all Western men. My wife has been teased by her friends that since our marriage, she has become a Guay Po, or "devil woman". The term is used today more as a humorous sobriquet then with ill feeling. Thanks again for your note. I'll look forward to hearing from you after you have had the chance to see "El Secreto de Sus Ojos”.