Tag Archives: Cornerhouse


There was more black humour in Temporal than was comfortable. I suppose it wasn’t meant to be a picnic, or even close to walking barefoot on the beach, as the call centre ladies dreamed about.

Times are bad, and we know they are very bad in Spain. Temporal was a day in the life of a small group of temps, and while it didn’t get worse, it certainly didn’t get better, either. Not much hope anywhere.


If you try to complain you end up feeling grateful you are allowed to keep your job afterwards. In the call centre breaks were something the workers could only dream about, along with wanting a holiday in Varadero.


The poor guy who sold – or tried to sell – vacuum cleaners could have been given a better script to work from. Very short shorts seemed to help Rosario/Jenifer in persuading passers-by to stop and talk to her about crisps.

This was a hard film to understand, or like. Why didn’t they stand up to their employer? Why did they let people walk all over them? Unemployment, and the wish to eat today. And tomorrow.

I truly hope I will not take pity on my cold callers in future. I still don’t want what they sell, nor can I afford it. I can see why the workers try to make a living out of this hopeless task. But why does someone want them to do it in the first place? There can be no money in it.

We could have done with finding out about poor Jenifer.

(At Cornerhouse on March 20th.)

A vinyl ¡Viva!

Once we’d got rid of the half dozen young men who were in the wrong cinema (they left to the acompaniment of much hilarity), the gala opening of the 2014 ¡Viva! at Cornerhouse went well. A brave woman made a speech in Spanish, and then the ¡Viva! head film-picker spoke (in English), before handing over to the director of Días de vinilo, Gabriel Nesci, who said a few words.

Gabriel explained his early fascination with vinyl records and he reckons his film began being written when he was twelve. He loves Britain and he has clearly been influenced by The Beatles as well as the low key retro, more introverted style of making films in the UK, as opposed to the flamboyant exuberance you tend to expect from Latin American films.

Días de vinilo

Días de vinilo follows the friendship of four young boys into adulthood. A couple of decades after they were inadvertently showered with LPs from an overhead window, they are trying to deal with being adults. One of them, Facundo, is marrying his girlfriend of ten years. The other three have relationships breaking up, and all are fairly useless around women. If they can pick the wrong woman, they will.

Damián is a screen writer (Gabriel’s alter ego?), Luciano DJs on radio and Marcelo has a Beatles tribute band, The Hitles, forever hoping to win tribute competitions that would bring him to the promised land that is Liverpool. Marcelo – as John Lennon – has a bit of a Yoko Ono complex, which is not helped when his telephone love Yenny proves to be more Japanese than Colombian.

Luciano is hopelessly in love with the singer Lila, who goes through men like there’s no tomorrow. And Damián is pursued all over town by exactly the right girl, except he doesn’t (want to) realise.

A little slow and un-Argentinian, this film could do with being watched again. I’m sure there are many nuances I missed the first time round. The actors do a great job, and apart from the glamorous looking cemetary salesman Facundo, they are genuinely ‘the boy next door.’

Días de vinilo

This is a comfortable film, rather than maniacally racy. Quitely funny instead of being a farce. Still quite Latin American, for all its quietness, since their British counterparts don’t talk or behave as openly as this. All You Need Is Love, as the Rolling Stones so famously sang (sic.)

Cornerhouse invited people round for drinks and music afterwards, and possibly even dancing. I didn’t stop to check.

And if anyone wants to know more, Gabriel Nesci will do a Q&A after the screening tomorrow afternoon, and if you miss that, the film is also shown on March 19th.

How I Live Now

How I Have Longed to be able to write that on here! Finally! My favourite book by my favourite author hits the big screen. And what a film! As I can’t be someone who has both read the book and not, I have no means of knowing if the bare and slightly changed bones of How I Live Now will be likely to confuse anyone coming fresh to the film.

I don’t think it should be a problem. People will simply see a really good film. A frightening film, and considerably darker than the book, Meg Rosoff was right to warn people not to take their under 14s to see it.

How I Live Now - film

Having already come to the conclusion that Saoirse Ronan looks just like Daisy should (which in itself is amazing), I was further gratified to see that the house looks exactly as I had imagined it, and the country lanes were the very lanes I’d walked along in the book. This hardly ever happens in films. Gradually you might get used to actors and settings, but for them to be right from the start is almost unheard of.

The cynical and jaded American teenager Daisy comes to England to visit her unknown cousins, but before you know how it happened, their countryside idyll has been ruined by war breaking out. Daisy and her young cousin Piper are separated from the two boys, Isaac and Edmond, and taken somewhere to help with the war effort. Daisy’s only thought is to escape and get back to the house where she fell in love with Edmond.

She and Piper make the agonisingly long walk back (but a lot easier looking in the film) to what appears to be hell. Without the novel’s New York style smart background commentary from Daisy, this is a lot bleaker.

Beautifully shot and surprisingly well adapted, How I Live Now is a great film, which hopefully will bring many new fans to Meg Rosoff’s books. Daisy with all her imperfections is a marvellous role model.

I’m So Excited

There is definitely more sex in Spanish films. And they certainly talk more openly about it, even allowing for scriptwriters who come up with odd characters. It’s fun and it’s refreshing.

I’m So Excited is Pedro Almodóvar’s new film about a plane load of passengers trapped up in the air, who go slightly crazy while they wait to see what will happen. (I’m grateful I have no immediate plans to fly anywhere.)

There is an amusing cameo appearance from Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz, and I suspect it could all have been their fault that what happens happens.

I'm So Excited

Even with my limited experience of Spanish films, this plane is full of people I know from somewhere else. Looking in the cockpit was like watching Airplane again. I wouldn’t trust the pilots in the slightest. They drink. They have sex. They have increasingy weird conversations with passengers who just pop in, with the cabin crew, and with their families at home.

The cabin crew are crazy. They drink. They have sex. They bicker. And that’s the ones who are awake.

I'm So Excited

The relatively few passengers in business class are also somewhat crazy. One professional escort, one virgin, a newly married couple, an assassin, a dishonest – but lovely – banker and a lying actor. They drink. They have sex. They phone home.

It’s absolutely crazy. But they are so friendly, in that Spanish way, that you kind of love them. You don’t want to be on a plane with them, though. Not a plane in difficulties, anyway.

It’s sex, drugs and rock’n’roll all the way.

(At Cornerhouse)

A Hijacking

A Hijacking is a hard-hitting Danish film on a subject most of us know little about, and tend to forget if we can. Any hijacking is bad, and Somali pirates seem to be working at the worst end of it.

Kapringen - A Hijacking

When shipping CEO Peter decides to do his own negotiating after one of his cargo ships is hijacked, he does so against the advice of English advisor Connor, who nevertheless is beside Peter every step of the way. And it’s a long way.

As a counterbalance to the well-dressed powerful men in Copenhagen, we have Mikkel, the ship’s cook. He is no hero, but he is brave in the face of this sudden violence and cruelty. He begs his boss to pay the ransom, and he begs the pirates’ ‘negotiator’ for food and kindness and fresh air.

It’s heartbreaking to see the dirty struggle on board, and to see how they are trying to do a good job in Denmark. When Peter wanders off script one day, it ends with a shot at the other end. You can almost see the thoughts in this powerful man’s head as he realises his actions may have cost someone their life.

Kapringen - A Hijacking

And still, we have already seen him being the hard negotiator in a ‘normal’ business deal, so why feel sorry for him?

You can tell it has to end reasonably well for most of the characters, but the situation is so tense, you must also be aware that for some it can’t end well. Who, and how?

The Danes seem naïve a lot of the time. It’s easy to be like that, when you’re nice and safe. But the Somalis are also naïve in some way, believing that there is any amount of money to be had in return for freeing people who shouldn’t have been held hostage in the first place.

In a way, not a lot happens. But you sit transfixed by what’s going on. I don’t want to give too much away, but let’s say that I would have expected the men’s beards to have grown much longer while this situation lasted.

Now that we are on such intimate terms with so many Danish actors, it was good to see Borgen’s Kasper as Mikkel, and Sarah Lund’s first detective partner Meyer as Peter.

(At Cornerhouse until 16th May)

Below is an interview on Danish television with Gary Skjoldmose Porter, who not only plays the British expert in the film, but is a British expert outside the film as well.

The Annexe at Cornerhouse

Annexe at Cornerhouse

Knowing that the food at Cornerhouse is good, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to find they cater well for events, too.

Yesterday – as Bookwitch – I went to a book event at the Annexe at Cornerhouse, and although they called it breakfast, I didn’t expect to be so well fed. After all, it was seeing and hearing the authors that was important. Meeting others. Networking a little.

Chicken House breakfast

Nice room. Easy to get to by train. The weather was good, but I’m guessing I can’t praise Cornerhouse for that. But it meant that the little outside area looked particularly attractive, and it made me want to sit there. Except then I wouldn’t have been able to hear Melvin Burgess and the other Chicken House writers read from their books.

Annexe at Cornerhouse

When I saw the rolls – freshly made, and to a nice recipe – filled with sausages and bacon I wasn’t at all hopeful. But lo and behold; they had veggie sausages as well! I should only have eaten one, though. The reason for my lack of control was they tasted so good.

Cake, Cornerhouse

But so did the cake that came after. One cake or two? Carrot cake or blueberry muffin? I did what others did. Ate one and sneaked the other into my bag. (And obviously went without lunch, which is a severely under-used phrase in my life.)

Dan Smith, blogger Kate, Sam Hepburn, Tony Higginson and Fletcher Moss

And in my usual illogical fashion I began thinking about a reason to hire the Annexe. That must be a sign that either I am crazy, or they are good. It could be both. Probably is.

I’m so excited!

It’s not always a film title matches how I feel, but Pedro Almodóvar’s new film  I’m So Excited! certainly does.

Cornerhouse will screen the UK launch of the film, featuring a live satellite Q&A with Almodóvar afterwards, on 23rd April at 18.30.

‘After the more serious territory of his recent output the film is being hailed as a return to his comic roots, and features cameos from familiar faces Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz.  A group of travellers face a life-threatening situation on board a plane to Mexico City and, trapped in a confined space, they let off steam, attempt to seduce and be seduced, lie to themselves and each other, and battle with fear, loneliness and the prospect of death.’

Sounds pretty good.

Q&A with Alfonso, Alberto and Àlvaro

Hardly surprising that Carmen who chaired the post-screening Q&A session at Cornerhouse last night got the three men mixed up. So many Als to keep track of!

This is the kind of thing Cornerhouse does best; great entertainment, followed by talking to the people involved, usually actors or directors to do with the film. Last night’s talk about El mundo es nuestro was no exception. We’d seen Alfonso Sánchez and Alberto López in the bar earlier, and it was fascinating to see them go from being two perfectly normal and charming men, to the crazy small time crooks they play in the film. Producer Álvaro Alonso joined them for the onstage chat in cinema 1.

Alfonso Sánchez, Alberto López and Álvaro Alonso

El mundo es nuestro is a small budget film with big results, that Alfonso started to write back in 2009, before Spain had a financial crisis. Which just goes to prove how far-sighted he was. (I doubt we can blame Alfonso.) He was pleased that the Manchester audience seemed to ‘get’ his film.

Alfonso Sánchez and interpreter

The three Als explained how they got the funding (you can’t make a film with €30,000). People wanted to support them because they were famous, but they reckon that kind of thing only works once. Their feeling is we need more humorous films about the bad economy.

Alberto López and Álvaro Alonso

Spanish television didn’t want to screen El mundo es nuestro, and didn’t advertise it at all. It’s forbidden to forbid this kind of thing, so they didn’t. You’d think that the current crisis would encourage more films on the subject, but the Als said they are the only ones.

There have been no nominations for awards for the actors. ‘Strange country, Spain.’ To them it’s important that the film gets distributed internationally, and at home they have offered cheap cinema tickets for various groups, at a variety of venues, including – I think – prisons. The prisoners related well to crooks Cabesa and Culebra; they were just like them.

Alfonso Sánchez and Alberto López

Their reasons for making the characters stereotypes was to have a small community inside the bank in the film; one that audiences could recognise and identify with. Alfonso said he listened to the actors and let them decide how they wanted to portray their characters. And to save money – I think – he used his own father for the role of the man his own character hits in the film. A bit Freudian, he reckons.

Alfonso didn’t mention this, so Alberto did it for him. He has been given an award for his writing. Well deserved, especially for someone who feels he is no writer, because waking up every morning, getting the coffee, staring out of the window, etc, is so hard.

Alfonso Sánchez and interpreter

They love British actors, and the fact that they are respected. In Spain all actors are supposedly ‘reds’ and receive no respect. They aspire to be an Olivier, or a Pacino.

Well, those of us who stayed after the screening loved you. We loved that you tried to speak English to us, and we loved the t-shirts. Please come again, and meanwhile we will tell all our friends (not that we have many) to illegally* download El mundo es nuestro. Or even pay for it, so you can afford to make more films.

Alfonso Sánchez, Alberto López and Álvaro Alonso

(*I only say this because they jokingly said we could. We are very law-abiding here. We have no friends, anyway. And hopefully our money is safe in that Spanish bank we have an account with…)

El mundo es nuestro

You don’t often get films that are a delight from beginning to end, with a great deal of humour and excitement, as well as having a political message. El mundo es nuestro has all of that, and packs it in in under an hour and a half. Good thing, probably, since I don’t know how long we could have gone on laughing without damaging something vital.

Last night at Cornerhouse was the second and last screening of El mundo es nuestro, so if you haven’t already been, I’m sorry, but you’re too late. Although, you could buy it, and help support a poverty stricken film venture. And when you’ve seen the film, tell all your friends.

El mundo es nuestro

The plot is simple enough, but simple usually works best. Two crazy small time crooks decide to rob a bank. They are no good at it, and the heist goes wrong and there are so many improbable developments that you wouldn’t believe it. But basically, the two end up taking the people in the bank hostage.

El mundo es nuestro

We get to know the life stories – almost – of the bank’s customers, and also that of the police on the outside, while they are working to resolve the hostage situation. This being Seville, religion and tradition have their parts to play, and having a police officer from Burgos is not so good. Or perhaps it is.

El mundo es nuestro

It’s mostly about Spain sinking quickly into its ‘unexpected’ financial crisis, and the effect this has on ordinary citizens. It’s a film with a heart (a very big heart) and it is very Spanish, and incredibly funny. My companion laughed like crazy throughout, and left Cornerhouse looking up where she could buy the DVD, so she can watch it again, and subject all her friends to the film as well.

It’s just wonderful!

La vida empieza hoy

I’ve said it before; the Spanish are far more open about sex. La vida empieza hoy is a rather sweet and humorous film about growing old, and about ‘discovering’ sex.

‘But you are 70 years old!’ is what the rather blinkered middle generation says to their ageing parents as they discover the old people might actually have an interest in sex. So they pretended they were going to exercise classes, when in actual fact they were attending (re)discover sex classes for the elderly.

La vida empieza hoy

This is a funny and charming film where the grandfather moves in with his son’s family, meets a new love, and finds he can talk more about this with his teenaged grandson (and that’s not all they do) than with his son.

We have the woman whose daughter gives up her own happiness for her ‘old’ mother, and is furious to find this old person has a new life, which includes a boyfriend.

The grandparents who have no time for each other, what with looking after the grandchildren, leading to gran visiting a sex shop accompanied by toddler and baby in a pushchair.

La vida empieza hoy

Or the archetypal older Spanish widow who thinks primarily about death, until she discovers her inner sensuality, and the ‘chickpea,’ to the extent that she wants to divorce her dead husband.

La vida empieza hoy

Wonderful film! So don’t write off all oldies just yet.