I only made it to the movies once whilst in Burgos, to see Miele, the recent Italian film by Valeria Goliano on assisted suicides. What struck me first of all was the name of the cinema, Cine Golem, with all its connotations of dreams and nightmares, of magic and the other-worldly, of the like-human-yet-not-quite-human, of the inanimate, animated by magic; all of this without even considering the cinephiliac associations to the classic German Expressionist film directed by Paul Wegener and Carl Boese. What a wonderful name for a cinema, infinitely preferable to Cine-vue or Cineworld or even ‘electric’. Why isn’t it a more fashionable name for cinemas?
It turns out that the Golem is a regional chain with cinemas in the north of Spain: Pamplona, Estella, Logroño and Burgos. I wanted to write a little something on it here because the day I went to see Miele, along with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Sex Tape, the Jason Segel-Cameran Diaz film, posters for which one is bomarded with throughout Burgos, one is also able to see Corazón de León, an Argentinian-Brazilian co-production, Barbecue, the French comedy with Lambert Wilson, and The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, the wonderful dead-pan Swedish comedy directed by Felix Herngren. Provincial little Burgos with half the population of Coventry is being treated to a menu of European cinema that much bigger and more ‘cosmopolitan’ cities like Birmingham could only dream of. Why? I’d be curious to know.
Miele is a fine movie, not exceptional in its treatment of its admittedly difficult topic but intelligent and interesting. Valeria Goliano, probably best known to English-speaking audiences for her performances in Rain Man and other Hollywood films from two decades ago is perhaps overly symbolic in her direction but she’s wonderful with actors. Miele stars Jasmine Trinca as a young woman trafficking barbituates from Mexico so she can assist terminal cases in an easy death. The plot revolves around her messy personal life with the main conflict in the plot occurring when she provides the drugs to a person who is not suffering from a terminal disease. But all of that is almost beside the point.
What struck me was two things, first how the use of George Brassens, and other European songs in the sound-track made the film seem Italian but also European. I know I’m not being clear and that one needs to define what one means by those terms; and I don’t have the time to do so now; but if one thinks how, say, there’s a Welsh Identity and a British one each which has something in common and helps shape the other but which are nonetheless distinct you’ll get at what I’m trying to express here. The film is distinctly Italian AND distinctly European. The audience I was seeing it with was in tune with both of those aspects of the film.
When I was coming out of the theatre two elderly ladies speaking to each other about how much they’d appreciated the film commented on the beauty of Jasmine Trinca who plays Irene, the film’s protagonist. And it struck me that Jasmine Trinca can be seen as the idealization of the Burgos typical woman; dark, short, thin, wiry; not at all the blonde bombshell of Hollywood ‘It’ girls or even dark-haired stars such Sondra Bullock or Julia Roberts. A lack of variety in something as simple as a culture’s offer of projected ideal selves is one of the many things that our film diet of mostly American movies with the odd Brit film quickly thrown in for a short run at our local cinemas is depriving us of.