since the time of Chaucer, the unscrupulous have often exploited pilgrims on
the road. One mysterious Spanish hamlet
continues the practice, extending it to tourists and escaped prison inmates.
However, karma might be slowly coming around in Fernando Cortizo’s The Apostle (trailer here), which screens
this Friday during the Denver Film Society’s Close Encounters of the Animated Kind series.
dumb luck, his greatest attribute, Ramon has broken out of prison, but his cellmate
Xavier is left behind. At least he has
time to tell his partner where he stashed the plunder from their last job. Pretending to be a pilgrim, Ramon arrives in the
sleepy town, where Xavier’s description of the suspiciously hospitable locals
turns out to be spot-on. Everybody seems
to want to give him something to drink, but Ramon just wants to visit the house
where his partner hid the loot.
things get decidedly supernatural and potentially fatal for the escaped thief. It seems the procession of spirits haunting
the village has its hooks into Ramon. He
has three days to find a replacement or its curtains for him. The villagers led, by the creepy Don Cesáreo,
will not be any help. They lure
travelers like Ramon to their sinister little village for the express purpose
of sacrificing them to the procession.
Apostle is so obviously
the product of a country like Spain, where everyone hates the Church, yet they
all remain Catholic. Don Cesáreo and the
pompous Archbishop of Santiago, traveling the pilgrim road for wholly self-serving
reasons, are profoundly anti-clerical characters. Nonetheless, they inhabit a world where evil
very definitely exists, going back millennia.
most of Apostle is rendered in stop-motion
animation, the most arresting sequence brings ancient illuminated manuscript
pages to life, vividly explaining the way-back-when to viewers. It is dramatically underscored by the
original chorale themes composed by the prolific Philip Glass, who really
brought his A game, or at least his B+ game to the proceedings. In fact, the darkly classical hues of his music
add considerable texture to the film.
craven priests are rather old hat by now and our primary POV figure is almost
completely charmless. Still, it all
looks and sounds quite stylish. Cult
movie fans will also be amused to hear Spanish genre stars like Paul Naschy
(the werewolf Waldemar Daninsky) and Luis Tosar (the concierge in Sleep Tight) amongst the voice cast. Recommended solely for its distinctive animation
and the enjoyably macabre vibe (but not so much for its narrative), The Apostle screens this Friday (8/9) in
Denver, as part of the Film Society’s Close
Encounters of the Animated Kind, which also includes the thoroughly
engaging From Up on Poppy Hill, Moon Man,
and Approved for Adoption.
Labels: Animated films, Close Encounters of the Animated Kind, Spanish Cinema