Woodstock Film Festival: "Paper Birds"
I love everything about this movie except its title (which perhaps works better in Spanish.) It takes place just after the Spanish Civil War, which is clever. The war has already become a restive memory, but a recent one. The main character, Jorge, is a deathless archetype: the miserable clown. His wife and son died in the war, and he is empty, entirely bereft. Jorge hates Franco, but also is no fan of The Opposition (which is never precisely named, though it must be the Communists). My old friend Sheila, after she left a Trotskyite party, said of her friends and herself: "We know what we're against, but we don't know what we're for." Jorge is from that "tendency." He has the bitter loneliness of the great Humphrey Bogart characters, also their inflexible compassion. In particular, he reluctantly adopts a homeless boy named Miguel. (The third character in their triad is a gay comedian, Enrique. Together they form a womanless "family," working as ventriloquists and amateur cellists in Spanish vaudeville, amusing impoverished provincials. Writing this, tears are filling my eyes.)
After Paper Birds, the audience gave a standing ovation. Woodstock, despite its numerous "healing crystals" and embroidered meditation cushions, still hates Franco!
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