The Bookshop: one-dimensional characters and a pedestrian plot in a kitsch provincial English setting

Isabel Coixet, “The Bookshop” (2017) Directed by a Catalan-Spanish director, this film exudes provincial English kitsch in its setting, its stereotyped and sometimes frosty characters, and its plot which often jumps ahead of itself and features some unexpected twists and turns. The film appears to be quite faithful to the source novel by Penelope Fitzgerald. …

Blancanieves: silent Gothic melodrama of a brief summer of shining innocence before a long winter of fascism

Pablo Berger, “Blancanieves” (2012) In the style of old 1920s expressionist silent films, Berger’s “Blancanieves” is a witty, layered and lavish Gothic retelling of the fairy-tale Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Set in southern Spain in the 1920s, the innocent beauty becomes Carmencita, the daughter of famed matador Antonio Villalta (Daniel Giménez Cacho) and …

The Skin I Live In: tricked-up film about identity change misses some deep lessons about obsession, control and revenge

Pedro Almodóvar, “The Skin I Live In / La Piel Que Habito” (2011) Georges Franju’s sci-fi horror classic “Eyes without a Face” was overdue for a remake with updated cosmetic surgery and stem cell technologies and, seeing as how these days the Spanish are making the arthouse flicks that the French used to be so good …