How far is sex? Why sex? What does sex have that it doesn’t have, for example, paddle tennis? And one last one: what is the reason why sex generates so much ‘clickbait‘? It is not clear that Ferdinand Frank, film director, had all these more or less stupid questions in mind when he devised the fable, both disturbing and clear, ‘Spring consecration’. Nor, by the appearance, does it seem that he has ever played paddle tennis. But the truth is that his approach to the revelation of sex, let’s call it that, surprises and disturbs with a question that eats up another question, with a huge question mark hidden in the boundless eyes of an actress, Valerie Sorolla, bent on chewing enigmas. It sounds tremendous and, in reality, it is just a tremendous film, tremendous as well as liberating and, hurrying up and in its extreme simplicity, enormous.
The tape, which broke into the official section of San Sebastián to discuss everything, confuse everything, wake everyone up, tells the story of a young student who arrives in Madrid to ‘do‘ Chemicals. And what of ‘do‘ is literal: he studies, yes, but what he spends the most time on is experimenting in the broadest sense. Alone, without much money and without being very clear about who she is, what she is and how she is, one fine day she meets another young man with cerebral palsy and confined to a wheelchair to the one who gives life with the same integrity as grace Telmo Irureta (it is now, by the way, when the error of ‘Easy‘, the increasingly incomprehensible Movistar series). And next to the mother: an imperial Emma Suarez. Sex, suddenly, admits no conditions. Sex frees bodies no matter how tortured they are. There is no more taboo than the one that burns.
What follows is a path of revelation, in its most lyrical version, but it is also, as has been said, sex, in its most obvious meaning, which is also the most confusing. It is that and it is many other things that are just as indefinite but also exactly as attractive, magnetic, comical, crazy and even uncomfortable. Sex is all of that. What it is not, that is irrefutable, is paddle tennis.
The camera is placed next to Sorolla’s wide open eyes and with it (or, better, from it) discovers a world; she experiments with him. The rigor, precision and depth of Franco’s proposal are not incompatible with a sense of humor as cornered as it is transparent that tickles as well as pricks. And hurts. What is told is a journey of discovery that is also a journey of doubt and reconciliation, liberation and surprise, horror and pleasure, sex and sex (twice). Without a doubt, the result seems to be the most risky and vibrant proposal of all those who have set foot in an official section that is too dedicated to not making mistakes, to not giving anything more than what is asked for. Note to self: emotion without reflection is populism.
As in his dazzling work from 2013, which was also his feature film debut, also presented in San Sebastián, the director insists on reconstructing from the concern of an individual doubt, and if you want an outsider, the exact drawing of something much bigger and that concerns us all. In ‘The wound’that was the name of his first film, it was about composing, thanks to the non-standard interpretation of Marian Alvarez, the profile of a disease that begins by being called Borderline Personality Disorder and ends up being called life. Now, in a kind of almost fortuitous diptych, and from a less tragic place, the idea is to reach the same fever that, in this case, is also a fever. Brilliant, disconsolate and very disturbing.
It was Otto Weininger, a misogynist in addition to many other things (many of them bad), who, before committing suicide, rose up against what he called “the culture of intercourse” in his famous, unclassifiable and provocative book ‘sex and character. He lamented that effort to reduce women to the stereotype of fertilizing energy of man’s creativity and discussed that false liberation that consisted, in his opinion, in the simple legal comparison with men. What had to be done with, always according to him, was motherhood itself, with that “inferior life” determined by biology. ‘Spring consecration’, to avoid scares, he does not pretend so much, but he does risk going further, to shake the stereotypes and even the so-called natural or social laws, to question each one of the whys that intrigue us so much about sex and not, for example, about paddle. It is so.
CINEMA AGAINST THE CLOCKS
Beside him, the official section presented, on a day no doubt for joy, ‘The Kings of the world’, of the Colombian Laura Mora. The one who was the director of the intense and even runaway, despite her gaps, ‘kill jesus‘ returns to the very mouth of the wolf with a tale of furious grammar, in a style that is not only free but volcanic. Everything explodes. Structured like a road movie, the director stops in the desperate lives of five kids with no more assets than her inner desperation. And from there, she downhill on an exercise in cinema that is essentially delusional, exalted and, above all, happy.
Ra, Culebro, Sere, Winny and Nano They are street kids from Medellin. The first of them inherits land from his grandmother, previously expropriated, now returned. The five will embark on a journey to the promised land, to their impossible Ithaca, whose only argument is the total absence of an argument. It is a song to disobedience that is also a song to the need to resist. They live outside the world in a world that long ago lost its very sense of time. And so.
They say that the workers of the Paris Commune walked the streets shooting at clocks as the ultimate symbol of the fragmentation of life, of exploitation. ‘The Kings of the world’ counts as the most accurate shot in the very center of the minute hand. Brilliant, flushed, vital and nameless. All a prodigy. There is also sex (not much, but there is). There is also no paddle.
Finally, the same official section presented the Portuguese production ‘Great Yarmouth: Provisional Figures’, by Marco Martins. The entire film revolves around the idea of a descent into hell in free fall. And faith that succeeds. The story takes place three months before Brexit when hundreds of Portuguese workers arrive in the UK to work in turkey meat processing factories. The place of which the title speaks is a vacation destination, a bird sanctuary and a huge meat grinder in every way imaginable.
Around the figure of its protagonist (a mourner Beatrice Batarda), Martins’s proposal traces each of the circles of, let’s say, the capitalist hell (exploitation, racism, cruelty, dehumanization and humiliation) without considering the possibility of making any concession, however minimal. But it is not cinema with a social imprint, it is basically dirty cinema, visceral cinema, cinema that hurts. The result, how could it be otherwise, hurts. The overly obvious metaphors of the birds bother (those that are free versus the dismembered), irritates that hammering miserabilism, but the result seems so powerful and feverish, that it well deserves, at least, a collective suicide. It is so. Merciless without a doubt.
There is also sex, by the way, but it is not recommended. There is still no news about paddle tennis.
According to the criteria of