The director analyzes all those works that critics called “bad” and that were only undervalued in his last book.
There is a topical phrase that many say when they have just seen a movie. “It’s silly, but we laughed a lot.” The sentence contains more crumb than it appears. How is it possible that if a comedy makes us laugh, we qualify it as “nonsense”? It seems that only the cinema that wants to be important and transcendent is the one that gets the qualification of good. Art Vs entertainment, a controversy that has existed since cinema is cinema and that has led José Luis Garci to create a book where he defends those films that were classified as bad.
For him they are not bad, or yes, but above all they have been undervalued by a thoughtful critic who is afraid to admit that he is having a great time with seemingly inconsequential works. Bad and undervalued films (Notorius editions) is a review of the history of cinema through many titles that were massacred at the time. Many have appreciated over time, others are still considered “nonsense”. Garci analyzes dozens of them, from his personal point of view and is also encouraged to make a lot of lists. The best endings, the best about cinema… And he doesn’t lose his rings for including surprises like The Hangover.
A book that had been in his head for a long time, but that he has written during confinement. “I took advantage of the fact that I was in there and in fact I am already finishing another one,” says the director from the other end of the phone. Garci explains that after watching so many films he has “come to the conclusion that I have been unfair to some of them just because they were simple, entertaining or unpretentious.” Films that “will never occupy a prestigious place not only in the lists of the best of the year, but in festivals or awards.” He also revisits those “that we thought were good and we have found that they were pretentious, solemn and boring.”
The director highlights a film that is now considered a masterpiece but was not well received at the time: The Great Carnival. It seems incredible that Billy Wilder’s satire on media sensationalism “went unnoticed,” says Garci, who points out that it also happened to Perdition. Something that “happened because they were very tough and the people who saw them said, ‘Joé, it’s us.” He also adds from El gran carnaval that he has one of the best female characters ever written and with one of the phrases he likes the most: “I don’t go to mass because when I kneel my stockings break.”
It is inevitable not to ask him when seeing The Hangover in his list of best modern comedies -although it is true that he won the Golden Globe-, and the Oscar winner for Starting Over argues that it is “a wonderful comedy, of a force and of an enormous speed, it is a true marvel ”. That and he loves to make lists. “Another one who liked making lists a lot was Umberto Eco… I have always liked moving to clean films and I have made books about the 25 films of my life. The thing about the lists was born because my mother made her a shopping list and I would take paper and pencil and write down ”, he recalls.
In Spanish cinema there are also “bad and underrated films”, and José Luis Garci remembers “the golden trilogy” that make up El día de los enamorados, Las chicas de azul and Las chicas de la Cruz Roja. “That trilogy says as much about Spain as the most critical films, because you see what society was like, the buses, the girls from Galerías Preciados, the flats they longed for, how they dressed… it was a sociological ensemble of a Spain that came out of the postwar period and it broke the gray of that time with a color that was not technicolor, but a slightly matte Spanish color ”.
Of the films of this year he prefers not to get so wet. He has seen little, and almost everything on Netflix. There he has seen his two favorite films of 2020: Mank and The Chicago Trial of Seven. Of course, he does not see himself directing for the platform: “Write and think about then having to go from office to office selling it as if it were a home bookseller to people who are neither my age nor my generation … the cinema that I like has nothing to do with what is being made now. A cinema without haste, and the cinema proposed by Netflix is not like that. We are lucky that we will be able to say that we saw the cinema die. I saw him being born, when going to the movies was almost like going to Mars ”.