Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Movie Review: Witching & Bitching

Witching & Bitching
Directed by: Álex de la Iglesia.
Written by:  Jorge Guerricaechevarría & Álex de la Iglesia.
Starring: Hugo Silva (José), Mario Casas (Antonio), Pepón Nieto (Calvo), Carolina Bang (Eva), Terele Pávez (Maritxu), Jaime Ordóñez (Manuel), Gabriel Ángel Delgado (Sergio), Santiago Segura (Miren), Macarena Gómez (Silvia), Secun de la Rosa (Pacheco), Javier Botet (Luismi).

From the insane, hilarious heist that opens the film, down to its insane, bloody climax Witching & Bitching is crazy genre fun. At nearly two hours the film probably overstays its welcome a little bit – it’s hard to maintain the kind of relentless pace this movie has for that long, and the movie lulls a bit as it moves into its final act. And the film throws pretty much everything it can at the screen to see what will stick, so not all of it quite works. Yet the film is the kind of sustained craziness that we don’t see enough of today. Witching & Bitching is nowhere near a great film – but it is one hell of a ride.

The film opens with a heist of a jewelry store in the middle of Madrid by a group of robbers dressed in the type of costumes you see in Times Square or Las Vegas – a man painted in gold as Jesus, a man painted in green as a toy soldier, and then men dressed as The Invisible Man, Minnie Mouse, and most hilariously SpongeBob Squarepants, wielding a machine gun. Oh, and Jesus brought his 10-year old son along with him – it’s his day, goddamnit, and he’s not missing it for anything. The robbery is successful – but then there is a great car chase as well. Soon, two of the men, along with a cab driver, who ends up joining their gang, along with the young boy are on the way to France. They make the mistake of stopping at the worst possible spot – and end up in the middle of a Coven of Witches – who want to eat them.

Some will likely see Witching & Bitching as misogynistic, and others will see it as feminist – and the truth is probably somewhere in between those extremes. All the men in the movie are clearly sexist – the way they complain about the women in their lives goes beyond regular complaints men have about their wives, and crosses over to the pathological. But the movie recognizes this, and takes great pleasure in giving these men their comeuppance at the hands of the witches – who may all be clichés, but then again so are the men.

The film was Álex de la Iglesia, a filmmaker I have heard about before, but had not seen one of his films before. He isn’t exactly known for his subtlety – and there is nothing subtle about this film, which pretty much goes for broke from the first frame to the last. The film is violent, sexy, funny and just downright crazy. It is exploitation film at its finest – never quite crossing the line to pure camp, but get dangerously close.

When you try to do as much as Iglesia does in this film, not all of it is going to work. That’s understandable. But it’s because he tries so much, and doesn’t hold back, that the film works as well as it does. 

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