What to Drink While Watching “Malas temporadas”

Life is just like a round of golf

Life is just like a round of golf


You know that Chinese artist, Ai Wei Wei? I wish I could find a quote from him, I think it was last year, when he said something like, I’ve been protesting for so long I sometimes forget what it is I’m protesting against.

It gets like that sometimes. We get into rant mode and that depresses us and then, locked into depression, we don’t find the switch to flick back, so everything we do comes out as whiney moaning venting noise and we think that’s ok.

I got that feeling when I watched this movie Malas Temporadas the other day. It was made in 2005 by Manuel Martín Cuenca and I never heard of it until a couple of weeks ago when it was shown on TV. It’s weary and predictable and I quite enjoyed it because I’m a bit like that myself.

Let’s have a look at the actors:

Javier Cámara plays the part of a gay ex-con chess teacher and is as convincing as always. Nathalie Poza is a stressed-out single mother who works with political refugees and is outstanding in this film, elegantly sidestepping the clichés of hysterical melodrama. Leonor Watling copes gainfully with her role as an embittered, excitable unfaithful wife in a wheelchair. But the real revelatory star for me was Cuban (?) actor Eman Xor Oña –  an ex-pilot who deals in whatever he can get his hands on (e.g. Leonor Watling).

So we’ve got some really great acting here. The screenplay is disappointing, mainly because the plot attempts to mesh these characters together in something resembling a story when really their individual stories aren’t all that interesting so how are they all going to come together and make an interesting über-plot…?

Javier Cámara doesn’t believe it himself when he explains that “life is just like a game of chess”. This is something I hate – films with chess in them. Life is just like a game of chess, yeah, right, and Cluedo and strip poker and waterpolo and Grand Theft Auto. There’s nothing special about chess, for crying out loud. Chess films suck, end of. (Except that one with John Turturro, The Luzhin Defense, which I did like, despite all the chessiness).

In the best tradition of Spanish films that receive generous handouts from State institutions, Malas Temporadas has to have its due share of gratuitous sex scenes and people doing drugs, wowy interior designs, intergenerational conflict and an irritating soundtrack (too much of the wrong music at the wrong time, and going on for too long).

As for “what to drink while watching…”, well, the most popular drink in the film seems to be whisky. Not a bad choice, actually. A lot of bitter, rueful sipping and musing about chess and what a rotten life this is and whining and moaning and ranting without the fun element that Ai Wei Wei often manages to spray his work with. So, in fact, maybe we should jazz our whisky up with something bright and sparkly and I’ll leave that part up to you.

Malas Temporadas’ official translation is Hard Times. There are about thirty films that already have this name. Just saying.

He's had his fair share of hard times

He’s had his fair share of hard times

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Culebrilla on May 15, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    As it’s a Spanish title, it shouldn’t have a capital “T” in the word “temporadas”. Unless we are now succumbing to some Anglo Saxon directives …. aaaaarrrrggghhhh!!!!
    (It is a very underrated film, I think. Nathalie Poza and Javier Cámara are perfect. Did Leonor Watling deliberately put on weight for this movie or is she just evolving, as it were?)


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