Exciting news for fans of interesting European cinema was announced today! Two of my favorite Spanish films from the 1990's are being brought to domestic Blu-Ray by Olive Films. This means I can finally show friends good prints of these amazing movies instead of lamenting their status in my collection as lesser quality bootlegs. Both of these are exceptional cinema and come at their subjects in ways that seemed rough and fresh when I caught them in the mid-90's so I can hardly wait to see if they feel as impressive on a return visit.
Here's Olive Films' descriptions of the two movies due out at the end of the month-
THE RED SQUIRREL (La Ardilla Roja), written and directed by Julio Medem (Tierra) and starring Emma Suárez (Julieta) and Nancho Novo (Lovers of the Arctic Circle), is a stylish thriller à la Hitchcock — with echoes of Vertigo — set in a Spanish campground.
Jota (Novo), a musician with a career in decline and a romantic life in shambles, is on the verge of ending his life by jumping from a bridge when a mysterious figure on a motorcycle comes roaring — quite literally — into his life. Rushing to aid the injured cyclist, Jota discovers the driver is a beautiful young woman (Suárez) who's lost her memory in the crash. Seeing an opportunity to start a new life, Jota creates a fictional backstory for Sofia, the amnesia victim whom he now calls Lisa, claiming that they're a couple. Fearing her growing suspicion of his ruse, Jota cuts Lisa's hospital stay short by whisking her off to The Red Squirrel, a remote campground far away from prying eyes. But they soon attract the attention of the other campers, leading to an escalation in Lisa's erratic behavior. What secrets are hiding in Lisa's past? And who is Félix (Carmelo Gómez, Tierra), the mysterious stranger who appears at the camp site in search of Sofia? Twists and turns abound in The Red Squirrel.
In Spanish, with optional English subtitles."
Set in Spain's Basque Country, VACAS (Cows) tells of a bitter rivalry and a decades-old feud between three generations of the Mendiluze and Iriguibel families, stretching from the Third Carlist War through the Spanish Civil War. These families, not unlike the tale of the Hatfields and McCoys, have carried a simmering, deep-seated hatred dating back to a war-time act that left brave Carmelo Mendiluze dead on the battlefield and the cowardly deserter Manuel Iriguibel crippled but alive. Years have not cooled the animosity between these houses as the film traces the lives, loves, and deaths that propel the atmospheric story forward to its inevitable outcome. Directed by Julio Medem (Tierra, The Red Squirrel) from a screenplay by Medem and Michel Gaztambide, Vacas stars Carmelo Gómez (Tierra, The Red Squirrel), Emma Suárez (Julieta, The Red Squirrel), Ana Torrent (The Other Boleyn Girl) and Karra Elejalde (Tierra).
Director Medem is immeasurably aided by cinematographer Carles Gusi (El Niño), whose camera captures the lush foliage of the Basque countryside and cocoon-like farmhouse interiors, successfully recreating a bygone era. The film also features a dramatic score courtesy of composer Alberto Iglesias (The Constant Gardener).
In Spanish, with optional English subtitles.
Of course, Olive Films never includes any extras but just the chance to see these movies in a good HD presentation is enough for me. If they sound intriguing, you might enjoy them as well.