Tag Archives: Movies

Cell 211: Secrets and Lies in a Spanish Prison

Cell 211: Prison Break on Steroids

If you liked Prison Break but wished every character was more like T-Bag or Haywire, then you’ll love Celda 111 (Cell 211), directed by Daniel Monzón. It was huge in its native Spain, and showed at the 2010 Vancouver International Film Festival.

Cell 211 is about a n00b prison guard named Juan who, due to bad timing and his new colleagues’ stupidity, ends up stuck in the middle of a prison riot led by Malamadre (think T-Bag meets Lincoln Burrows)

Juan has to pass himself as a hard-as-a-coffin-nail murderer if he ever wants to see his pregnant wife again…

Luis Tosar plays Malamadre, and looks like Colin Farrell, if Colin Farrell was bombarded by gamma rays. His performance in Cell 211 got him a Goya Award for Best Actor. Alberto Ammann won the Breakthrough Actor award for his work on the role of Juan.

These two guys carry the film, selling the story in all the tiny, human moments between the scenes of violence and overt conflict.  You can see them think, and you can see them listen.

My Spanish isn’t great, but the subtitles seemed pretty accurate, if a bit soft on the swearing: “coño” doesn’t mean “damn”.

Eagles and Hitmen

Things I learned this weekend:

1. Brackendale, British Columbia is the eagle capital of the world. Usually, when heading to Whistler, I’m either on a motorcycle (during the spring and summer) or in a car (winter), and have never noticed the sign that Brackendale is famous for its eagle population. How could I have missed this?!

I was on a training ride for the Whistler GranFondo, and noticed all sorts of landmarks that escaped my attention before, either because they’re covered with snow or because I can’t take my eyes off the road. Cycling, though, lets you pay attention to the scenery, and the Sea to Sky has that in spades.

Do the Brackendale eagles have their own website? Yup. The Brackendale eagles have their own website. Brackendale Eagles Provincial Park is just north of Squamish. I’m sorry to report that I did not see any eagles. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out next time I cycle through… which will be all too soon.

2. A Colt Is My Passport, directed by Takashi Nomura, is a very stylish noir flick. Joe Shishido plays the least paranoid hitman of all time. The Nikkatsu Action films are a scream: the stylish recreations of Western noir and crime flicks, as well as Seijun Suzuki’s bizarre experiments in celluloid.

If you’re into gangster flicks that are heavy on style and light on traditional plot structure, try Branded to Kill.

I was introduced to the work of Seijun Suzuki, and this whole genre of Japanese cinema, by Dr. Leigh Smith.