Anybody who has ever dared to sit next to me during a film would know that I have a tendency to salivate over Spanish cinema. I am not sure if it was my first encounter with “Pedro Almodovar” in Talk to Her (or my curiosity of defining the difference of a Hispanic and a Spaniard – if there is any in the perspective of a first generation Canadian) or it could have just been Carlos Saura’s Cria. For whatever reason, whether or not it’s art gallery good, I’ve tended to go bananas over that lispy Spanish derived object.
So big shock that I gravitated towards my tragically acquired copy of La Cabina, co-directed and starred by Jose Luis Lopez Vazquez, last tonight. When I first consumed this short 35 minute film I was to busy watching my- partner-in-crime-of-that-time to really take it in (yeah, the face next to me was slightly more fascinating than the film playing…it happens to the best of us) but I do remember watching the last 7 minutes of the film in complete horror. I’ll refrain from spoilers.
It amazes me that Jose Luis Lopez Vazquez and Antonio Mercero could fit so many aspect of life (and now history) in the short minutes of this film. From its creepy gawking crowd (perhaps the creepiest part of the film, talk about a lack of community or…the formation of a weird one) to its expanding shots of “modernity” in Spain. And to boot, the film doesn’t step away from itself. The film is simply about a man’s tragic experience of being stuck in a phone booth and before we even jog ourselves over to Hollywood, I don’t even remember the Hollywood, whatever that was by the same title Farrell shoot-off pickle. (La Cabina means: booth – box like home, cabin – so duh, hence: “the Phone booth”). The film was simply about a suit Spaniard in a Spanish phone booth and the result of such entrapment.
This film was made in the last years of the Franco regime and during a time of economic crisis within Spain –as of present, Spain is still in an economic crisis, just watch Volver and see how hard Penelope Cruz works for her familia. With a rich history of revolutionary movements how can it not produce something like La Cabina? The viewer is suppose to be left contemplating how the technology of the phone booth will affect the pedestrian filled streets of Spain’s cities. Since we are a viewer that’s 39 years to young we know: it isn’t pretty.