Alex de la Iglesia

Witching and Bitching

The last time we met director Alex de la Iglesia at Fantastic Fest, he was telling us that in order to enjoy life, you have to be a bad person. He said as much prior to introducing his eccentric, wonderfully crafted film The Last Circus in 2010. It was full of astounding performances, striking visuals and an unnerving political relevance. Since then, he’s been working on a film called Witching and Bitching, which debuted at this year’s festival to equal measures of madness. It’s nice to know that he’s still crazy and still making wonderfully entertaining films.

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Brujas de Zugarramurdi

Jesus Christ with a shotgun. A cave filled with riotous witches. Whatever that thing is that’s reaching out from the toilet. If there’s anyone carrying the torch for Alejandro Jodorowsky, it’s Alex De La Iglesia. The bizarre and wonderful director is back with a new action comedy that features a group of thieves being hunted by some vicious witches. It’s getting called Witching and Bitching, but it’s original name, Las brujas de Zugarramurdi, is a million times better. Plus, Zugarramurdi is the site in northern Spain where the infamous Basque witch trials took place so it all fits. Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition, so it’s a lot like De La Iglesia’s work. Check out this hardcore trailer for yourself:

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The Last Circus is such a force. In it, director Alex de la Iglesia has crafted perhaps his best film – a deranged, sado-masochistic ode to his home country by way of a clown metaphor. It ripped my socks off and threw them in the street at Fantastic Fest 2010, and it easily earned a spot on my Top Five of last year. Fortunately, the fine folks at Magnet realized it needed to be seen, and they’ve released a new red band trailer for the film in anticipation of it seeing theaters. It tells the story of two clowns who both lust after a beautiful acrobat. In the vibrant, gorgeously shot world of the circus, they inflict violence on her and one another in the foolish attempt to force happiness and love on something that can never be owned. The trailer gives a hint at the pure genius of the movie – the bold visuals, the oddity of its story, and the boulder-sized balls of the entire thing. Check it out for yourself:

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If there’s one group of mutants fighting the wrong-doers of the world that you should see this weekend, it’s probably the X-Men, but if there’s two, you could do worse than to revel in the exploits of Accion Mutante. Alex de la Iglesia’s first film is absurd, insane, action-packed, and takes place in a world where the beautiful people have taken over the planet. Science fiction, or real life? Difficult to say. Sorry, English speakers. I couldn’t snag a subtitled version, but you really don’t need to be fluent in Spanish to get hip to what’s going on here. A kidnapping, an unlikely crew of heroes, and some heavy artillery. That’s the same in every language.

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Alex de la Iglesia’s The Last Circus made my Top Five of 2010 because of its brash manhandling of intimate subject matter and the glorious visuals that two psychopathic clowns and a saturate circus can create. Fortunately, he’s getting right back in the saddle, shoving a pole through a main character’s head, and doing it all with Salma Hayek. According to Twitch, the project is called As Luck Would Have It, and focuses on a publicist who is impaled through the skull in an accident that renders him unable to remove the pole and stay alive. As you might expect, this turns out to be a good thing for him, his fortunes, and his family. De la Iglesia is a master at making challenging films from absurd concepts. His sentimentality is Brazil meets the crazed murderer you didn’t know lived down the street from you, and his eye for camera work is difficult to match. Even though the premise seems cribbed from the skydiving accident in The Ten, it’s almost assured that de la Iglesia’s slant will be more darkly comic (if it’s even comic at all).

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An unassuming older man with salt and pepper hair and small-framed eyeglasses stands in front of a full crowd and proclaims with a smile pouring through his beard that there can be no laughter without suffering. He says, “To enjoy life, you must be a bad person.” He then reveals the good news that we’re all bad people before pointing out that the money he used to make his film could have been used to save lives, and since we’re enjoying what he’s made, we’re all complicit in their deaths. Normally, that might sound like dire claptrap from an over-sensitive prude, but the older gentleman on stage is Alex de la Iglesia, and he says every word with such child-like wonder and humor that it’s impossible not to recognize that 1) he’s right 2) he’s not judging and 3) he’s made a brilliant film about it. The Last Circus (also known as Balada Triste and A Sad Trumpet Ballad) is a whirlwind that examines two clowns, and their equally violent love of a beautiful acrobat. Javier (Carlos Areces) never had a childhood because the Spanish Civil War took it and his father from him. He decides to go into the family business as a clown, but he becomes a sad clown because he can’t make children laugh. He’s professionally the butt of the joke. He falls in love with Natalia (Carolina Bang), but she belongs to the abusive silly clown Sergio (Antonio de la Torre). What results is what always […]

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