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Spanish-Language's Revival and "Volver" Reviews

ReelPolitik By Anthony Kaufman | ReelPolitik March 22, 2006 at 5:36AM

Spanish-Language's Revival and "Volver" Reviews
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Today's indieWIRE report Viva El Cine: Will Mexico and Spain Spur a Spanish-Language Revival? doesn't exactly inspire too much confidence in the potential commercial health of Spanish language films in the U.S, but there are some recent stories in Variety that auger some additional positive developments: Vive Tu Cine, a LA-based promotional org, is apparently expanding its slate of small releases, and Variety's Spanish correspondent John Hopewell reports from the Malaga film festival with a few titles that show promise, including David Trueba's fest opener Bienvenido a casa , "a telling but warm romantic comedy about a young couple's disparate reaction to imminent parenthood" and Carlos Iglesias's Un franco, 14 pesetas, "a quietly lyrical, sometimes comical but never cliched immigration tale of a Spanish factory worker finding work in a bucolic '60s Swiss village."

Hopewell also reports Pedro Almodovar's latest Volver grossed $2.2 million in Spain in its first weekend, his biggest opening in years.

Variety critic Jonathan Holland offers his review of the picture, as well: "A richly evocative return to his childhood roots, Pedro Almodovar's 16th feature Volver signals a new, low-frills departure for a helmer whose recent work has been as much about style as substance; pic is cinematographically and dramatically more contained and satisfyingly unflashy. Peopled with superbly drawn, attractive characters smoothly integrated into a well-turned, low-tricks plotline, Volver may reprep Almodovar's most conventional piece to date, but it is also his most reflective, a subdued, sometimes intense and often comic homecoming that celebrates the pueblo and people that shaped his imagination."