Thursday 18 September 2014

Because There are Things You Never Forget (2008)

Director: Lucas Figueroa
Stars: Fabio Cannavaro, Amadeo Carboni, Emiliana Olmedo, Giulio Baldari, Victor Menegas, Nicolo Urbinali and Tiziano Scarponi
This film was an official selection at Phoenix FearCon IV in Tempe in 2011. Here's an index to my reviews of 2011 films.
This Spanish film, made in Italian by an Argentinian, claims to be a horror movie but really isn't. Certainly it's the horror movie with the least horror to ever play the Phoenix Fear Fest. However, it's a gem of a film that impresses from its ambitious first shot which runs a full two minutes without a cut. We follow a prison guard down a corridor to turn off a radio, to the annoyance of the inmates who were listening to a football game, then turn to reverse down a different corridor, as those prisoners are let out of their cells. When we run out of corridor, we keep going through the bars of a window, soaring over the Italian countryside and eventually dropping down to the street in a village to watch a few kids beating the wall of a house with a besom brush. We soon discover that we didn't just travel miles, we also travelled thirty years, as the kids are the prisoners. That shows a heck of a lot of ambition, echoing other ambitious opening shots like the Orson Welles cut of Touch of Evil or Max Ophüls films like La Ronde or The Earrings of Madame de...

We quickly find out what's going on, in a stylish progression backwards that highlights how that opening shot wasn't a one off. A day earlier, these kids are kicking a football against the very same wall, which is annoying to the old lady on the other side, knitting alone in her rocking chair, given that it's rattling her framed photos. It's even worse on this day because they're kicking a makeshift ball that hurts their feet with its weight. They do have a real ball, but we need to back up another day to discover what happened to that. One of the kids saved up a whole year to buy it but made the mistake of letting his friend take a penalty kick, given that he's completely useless and misses the wall entirely. It bounces along the spikes on the old lady's iron fence, drops inside and breaks one of her flower pots. They ask for it back and she obliges, after stabbing it brutally to death with her knitting needles. 'Perché?' the kid shouts at the gods as she retreats grinning inside and the camera launches itself past the title screen, back to the future.
I've seen many short films whose titles don't appear until the very end, just before the closing credits, but I don't recall seeing one whose title appears during the second half of the film. What I've outlined above is the introduction, setting the stage for what the kids do for revenge, beginning the moment that we first met them. I suppose this is the horror angle to the film, if you can call it that, but it really doesn't have a horror tone. This is drama, pure and simple, pitting poor kids doing what they love against the old woman who they've been tormenting. Revenge begets revenge and we know where they're going to end up after it all goes down, but we can certainly enjoy how we get there. The camerawork of Javier Palacios keeps it spectacular, the kids are as engaging as they are arrogant and the music is a glorious thing, a character of its own, mixing mambo energy with the traditional opera to accompany the beautiful game. Best of all, it plays along with the creaking of the old lady's rocking chair and the pounding on her wall.

None of the characters are named, so I have no idea which actors play which parts, except that Emiliana Olmedo is the only woman in the cast so is surely the old lady. Pattern spotting tells me that the first two names are the present day prisoners, while the last four are the kids, but only the internet tells me which prisoner is which. You see, one of them is a rather famous name in Italy, if not my household. He's Fabio Cannavaro, the professional football player who led Italy to victory in the 2006 World Cup, the same year he won as FIFA World Player of the Year. Clearly he was having fun by being in this picture, given a long prison sentence where he's stuck with friends who can't kick a football to save their life. Just how Lucas Figueroa, the writer and director, landed him for this project, I have no idea, but if there's a way to make the film any more memorable, that's surely it. At the end of the day, whether it counts as a horror movie or not, it was a great way to kick off Phoenix Fear Fest IV in 2011.

Because There are Things You Never Forget can be watched for free online at YouTube.

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