Thursday, March 26, 2015

Living is Easy with Eyes Closed (orig. Vivir es fácil con los ojos cerrados) [2013]

MPAA (UR would be R) (3 Stars)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing listing* listing*

Cine Para Leer (J.L. Sanchez-Noriega) review* (B. Martínez) review*

Living is Easy with Eyes Closed (orig. Vivir es fácil con los ojos cerrados) [2013] [IMDb] [FAes]* [SC]* (written and directed by David Trueba [IMDb] [FAes]* [SC]*) named after the famous line in the John Lennon / Beatles song Strawberry Fields Forever [YouTube] [iTunes] is a "period" and (though certainly highly to damningly critical) arguably even something of a "nostalgia piece" about the thoroughly "pleasant" (if you just KEPT YOUR EYES CLOSED / MOUTH SHUT...) life in Franco's Spain during the "Beatlemania" of the 1960s.  It played recently as a critically acclaimed / six Goya award-winning submission by SPAIN to the 2015 - 18th Chicago European Union Film Festival held at the Gene Siskel Film Center here in Chicago.

As such, this is a thoroughly pleasant (and to Americans / most people actually a thoroughly accessible) film, a (to evoke another Beatles title) "Magical Mystery Tour" [Youtube] [iTunes] of a time (and perhaps place, though honestly what this film describes was basically EVERYWHERE at _that_ time ...) in which if you JUST FIT IN / DIDN'T CAUSE WAVES ... "all would be fine."  Yet what if you DIDN'T / COULDN'T FIT IN? ... Well ...

So this film is about three "misfits" / "odd balls" -- Antonio (played magnificently by Javier Cámara [IMDb] [FAes]* [SC]*) a still-optimistic/full of life if perhaps prematurely balding 30-something / early 40-something high school teacher who uses Beatles songs to teach English in his class in some midsized provincial town somewhere in Spain; Belén (played again magnificently by Natalia de Molina [IMDb] [FAes]* [SC]*) a late teen / perhaps early 20-something "wayward girl" / "fallen woman" who found herself both unwed and pregnant; and Juanjo (played by Francesc Colomer [IMDb] [FAes]* [SC]*) a 15-16 y/o teenager who could have easily been in Antonio's class (but wasn't) who runs away from home because he simply "didn't want to get a haircut" (but in Franco's Spain, as across much of the Western World at the time, Beatles or no Beatles, for a guy to have long hair was a sign of disorder and even rebellion ...).

Antonio meets the other two "on the road" after he decides to ditch his stultifying teaching job for a few days (the nuns running his school were not exactly excited that he was using "Beatles songs" to teach class ...) to go down to Southern Spain TO TRY TO SEE JOHN LENNON who was doing a movie there (a WW II-era comedy/farce called How I Won The War [1967]).  When they get close, they crash at a beach-side hotel (separate rooms of course, but then, also true of the era, quite cheap) run by a kind of Spanish hippie with a disabled son.  Yes, HE had long hair, but he also lived SO FAR from anybody (of import...) that it really didn't matter.

Anyway, much, poignant, of course ensues ... Do they meet John Lennon?  Well ... guess ;-)

What is interesting is that John Lennon apparently wrote a lot of the songs that became part of the Magical Mystery Tour album, including Strawberry Fields Forever [YouTube] [iTunes], while being out there (in Franco's Spain) making that above mentioned film.  And according to the current film's closing credits from the time that John Lennon went to Spain to make that movie onward, Beatles albums always came with the lyrics printed on the record sleeve.  Apparently he came to understand that people FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD (including Spain ...) wanted to know what The Beatles were actually singing about in their songs.

Again a nice gentle movie about a not exactly gentle time.

* Reasonably good (sense) translations of non-English webpages can be found by viewing them through Google's Chrome browser.

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