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Review: Spanish Oscar Contender 'Black Bread' A Melodramatic, Yet Compelling Story Of Post-Spanish Civil War Life

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • January 16, 2012 10:03 AM
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Somewhere in the mouth of a vast, dreary weald, a merchant trucks along with his wares. He stops briefly to check his wagon but is startled by some rustling nearby. At this point, even the most novice movie-goer can figure out that this man won't make it out of these woods alive. In a sequence that would make Michael Haneke proud, the masked attacker bursts in for the kill, following his act of brutality by taking the horse and wagon to a cliff, bashing the animal in the face, and sending it down the precipice. Bright-eyed Andreu (Francesc Colomer, who looks like the young death row kid from Werner Herzog's "Into The Abyss") stumbles upon the wreckage, and to make matters even more frightening, he finds a friend in the cart already on the brink of death. The boy can only muster up a single word, "Pitorliua" -- the name of a spirit said to reside in a nearby cave. Andreu reports the death to his family, but he can't figure out where Pitorliua fits in this puzzle. It's this mystery that propels the whole of "Black Bread" along, though its driving force is often hindered by other extraneous elements -- quite often there is too much going on and it gives things an overwhelming, cluttered feel.

Agustí Villaronga, Director Of Spanish Oscar Contender 'Black Bread,' Talks Influences & Chasing Authenticity

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • January 14, 2012 12:30 PM
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Many were surprised when Spain selected the then-unheard of Catalan language film "Black Bread," over Pedro Almodóvar's insane thriller "The Skin I Live In," as their entry for this year's Oscars. But the film was a big critical success in its native land, winning 9 Goya Awards and sweeping the major categories, including Best Film (the first Catalan-language film to do so), Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress and Best Director for Agustí Villaronga.

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