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Dishonoured Bodies Dishonoured Bodies: Juanma Carrillo Shorts
This collection of skilfully made shorts by Spanish filmmaker Juanma Carillo is a mixed bag. They're artful, beautifully shot and edited, and also sometimes pretentious as they make fairly obvious points with a heavy hand. But there are gorgeous moments along the way and a strong sense of sexuality (only explicitly so in Perfect Day). The best clips are the warm and wryly humorous Scaffolding and F***buddies, which centre on characters rather than issues.
release 24.Aug.15 • 15/Spain TLA 1h48               18 themes, violence, sexuality • 16.Aug.15
Dishonoured Bodies   3.5/5   Cuerpos Deshonrados
dir-scr Juanma Carrillo
with Juan Caballero, Saida Benzal
10/Spain 11m
Dishonoured Bodies

This is an experimental film that plays with light, overlapping images with an electronic drone on the soundtrack. It depicts a man and woman enfolded together, beautifully illuminated to create a surreal, sensual physicality. What's clever about it is the way Carillo combines modern dance and cinema in a way that's sculptural, exploring interaction between the couple in ways that are funny, combative and of course erotic. When a bloodlike syrup starts dripping on them, it all becomes rather messy and silly, but it's nice that Carillo's intentions remain up for interpretation. Is he depicting a couple wallowing in sin or being consumed by their sexual interaction? Is this about the male-female struggle for dominance? Whatever, the title says that it's not just a celebration of the human body.
Scaffolding   4/5   Andamio
dir-scr Juanma Carrillo
with Paco Blazquez, Domingo Fernandez
13/Spain 14m

A narrative short with two sharply played characters, the story opens with a notice that scaffolding is about to be built outside a block of flats in Madrid. With their balconies encased in sheeting, two neighbours are forced to notice each other. One is a scowling, smoking loner, the other is more relaxed, curious, always reading. In this new shared space, they start to interact as they water their plants and hang out their laundry. The story continues with a lovely ebb and flow of interaction as these men are emboldened to connect because they are literally hidden from the world. So when the scaffolding comes down, they have a big decision to make. Carillo shoots this very cleverly, catching detailed images and snippets of conversation. And what it says will be instantly obvious to anyone who lives in a crowded city.
F***buddies   4/5  
dir-scr Juanma Carrillo
with Domingo Fernandez, Richard Garcia Vazquez
10/Spain 6m
With extremely clever camerawork and strikingly naturalistic performances, this gimmicky short has such a dry sense of humour that it takes us aback. Two strangers (Garcia Vazquez and Fernandez) meet for sex in a car on their lunch break. Awkwardly manoeuvring in the car, things don't go so well. And as they jostle for position, both men state that no, of course they're not gay! From here the conversation turns to their sex lives with their wife/girlfriend, and then complaints about terrible mortgage interest rates and other financial pressures. As the film progresses, it gets increasingly hilarious, as these guys desperately try to prove their masculinity. Not that they need to. Which makes it a remarkably astute look at Spanish machismo.

Originally reviewed at IRIS 2011

Consequent/Consequence   3/5   Consecuente/Consecuencias
dir-scr Juanma Carrillo
with Alicia Zorzano, Sergio Montesinos, Deborah Macias, Manuela Burlo, Borja Perez, Javier Montesinos, Joaquin Joak, Sergio Munoz
10/Spain 10m

Another experimental short, this clip is made up of flickering images of couples nose to nose, embracing and kissing. The man on the left stays the same, while the women and men on the right rotate through, occasionally sticking around for a while, sometimes vanishing quickly. Time is passing, the film dissolves from black and white to colour, light shifts from bright to very dark. Basically, Carillo is depicting the blur of a series of relationships, as this man seems to find it difficult to let people into his life. It looks amazing, and the way the images fade into each other is mesmerising. But by the time the other people are shaving the guy's head, it seems to be a comment on self-imposed loneliness. Which might have been more powerful if it wasn't so overstated.
Wall   4/5   Muro
dir-scr Juanma Carrillo
with Juan Caballero, Tadeo Dietz
10/Spain 5m
A short, sharp little film with a strong kick, this black and white clip opens with a smiley young guy standing in front of a wall in a bustling city. With the sound of construction nearby, we watch him wait, check his phone, then brighten up when another guy appears. But this second man pulls away to answer his phone, and even as they are embracing and kissing, it's clear that he is trying to get loose. Their conversation is drowned out by the noise, but it's obvious what happens from here. And both men write their feelings in the dust on the wall behind them.* It's a bit brutally punchy, as if Carillo made this film after a relationship didn't go the way he wanted it to. But it's simple, clever and very cool.

* Man 2: "Ya no te kiero" [I don't love you anymore]
Man 1: "XQ eres 1 cobarde" [That's because you're a coward].

Une Sensation de Vide   2.5/5  
dir-scr Juanma Carrillo
with Saida Benzal, Domingo Fernandez, Luis Tausia, Jose Lecto, Ander Gaztelu, Juan Gomez, Alva Moreno, Elena Simon
11/Spain 6m
Une Sensation de Vide
The French title translates as An Empty Feeling, which kind of explains what Carillo is going for in this experimental short, which features flickering glimpses of young people dancing in a stylised nightclub. They are illuminated in pitch-black darkness as the music pounds and they get sweaty, rubbing against each other suggestively, flirting and smiling and enjoying the rave. Then a drink is spilled and a fight breaks out. The violence that follows is shocking, partly because it's difficult to understand why Carillo would make a film like this. Is he trying to explore the emptiness of the nightclub life? Or the randomness of drug-fuelled emotions? Both of these comments are essentially pointless, even if the film looks great.
Nineteen Forty One   2.5/5  
dir-scr Juanma Carrillo
with Saida Benzal, Ramon Moreno, Guadalupe Lancho, Felix Fernandez, Miriam Martin, Paco Blazquez
13/Spain 13m
Nineteen Forty One
This high-concept film opens with an extended title sequence in the style of a Soviet propaganda movie with an American audio clip on the soundtrack. What follows is a World War II collage of barbed wire, blood in snow, sunshine on skin, fog in trees, feet in mud. There's no real narrative, but eventually a few characters emerge: a young woman stabbing an older woman; a soldier rescuing his girlfriend and running through a minefield, where she is attacked and raped; and German and Russian soldiers meeting as friends then getting into a vicious fight. These scenes feel like random evocations of wartime desperation, pain and inhumanity. And without any connective tissue, they also feel rather meaningless. All of this is beautifully shot, but the creepy tone makes it hard to engage with. And the violence makes it feel both obvious and preachy.
Perfect Day   3.5/5   Cover Me II
dir-scr Juanma Carrillo, Felix Fernandez
with Felix Fernandex, Guadalupe Lancho, Fran Fernandez, Juan Gomez, Esteban Requejo, Domingo Fernandez, Carlos D'orive, Tadeo Dietz
10/Spain 20m
Perfect Day

Sharply well-played, this swirling, evocative mini-epic follows a man through a collage of his sexual encounters. He's clearly searching for perfection, even though he knows that it's unattainable. But that doesn't stop him from going through a series of men and women, including a threesome. As it goes along, his sexual appetite grows, with harsher relationships and rougher sex, which hints as his need for bigger and bigger thrills. This film is so strikingly shot and edited that it cleverly captures the mix of enjoyable and awkward physicality, including some thrillingly romantic moments. But it feels far too pointed as it restates the unmistakable message that even the happiest relationship will have some dark edges. Even more literally, "Perfection is only in your head." It's an important message, but it needs to be delivered with more subtlety than this.

NB. The subtitle Cover Me II refers to its place in a trilogy about loneliness by Carrillo and Fernandez.

Cannibals   2.5/5   Caníbales
dir Juanma Carrillo
with Andres Bernal, Guadalupe Lancho, Fran Fernandez, Juan Gomez, Lolo Matico, Tadeo Diez, Carlos Lorenzo, Javier Carrascal
09/Spain 19m

This experimental film has a terrific visual style and a real sense of suspense as it goes along, but it's far too long and the final moments feel not only like a cheap gag but also undermine everything that comes before by making it utterly implausible. This is odd because up to this point it feels so joltingly realistic. It's shot entirely in the point-of-view of someone driving through Madrid to a cruising site, then walking through the vast park watching a variety of sexual situations and making random eye contact with various men, most of whom seem interested. This is all extremely full-on, generating a real feeling of both loneliness and expectation, while a low buzz grows in intensity on the soundtrack. But as it continues, it starts to feel both aimless and endless. There is a point at the end, but filmmaker Carillo could have said this in three minutes instead of 19. And in the end he is indulgently refusing to say anything, not to mention inadvertently reinforcing nasty cliches and narrow-minded bigotry.

Originally reviewed at IRIS 2010

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