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800 Bullets:
When you see the phrase “tribute to Spaghetti Western splattered all over the box you’re kind of expecting a good old-fashioned cowboy flick, not the story of some washed up stunt guys waiting for the day when Spain will once again be the set of Western movies!! Parts of it are trippy, like some of the midnight movies (Black/White/Red credits especially). There’s the most gratuitous boobs & sex I’ve seen in a long time – you always expected in b-movies but it just feels out of place here. The ending totally doesn’t match the tone of the film. On the up side it’s very Spanish, with emotions flying all over the place and a few familiar names and faces. There’s a handful of classic and iconic Western camera shots scattered throughout, and in general the film looks great – from the landscapes to the costumes. By the end, you could divide 800 Bullets up into the following: 40% banal story focusing on main stuntman’s family; 40% ‘what keeps punters interested’; 20% love letter to old westerns and stunt guys. Overall, it just feels like a pretty bad idea, dragged out for far too long. For stories about washed up stunt men, stick to The Fall and for Spaghetti Western tributes this should do the trick.

Score: 2/10

Volver: borderline surreal movie that tells the story of a Spanish family going through some rough times. It would be impossible to watch this film and not notice that it’s pretty much a showcase of Penelope Cruz (and her magnificent chest). Despite this her performance is stellar as she leads the cast cast, once again proving that Spanish-language films truly bring out the best in her. The film’s shot brilliantly, and the vibrant colours and great cinematography really bring another dimension – the Blu Ray would be great. There’s a lot of over-acting, almost to soap opera level, and as the story progresses it gets less believable to the point where the drama isn’t effective. Some great dialogue and black comedy moments throughout too. All-in, it’s very Spanish and unmistakably Almaldovar, which is by no means a bad thing; although it’s not quite his best. Definitely worth watching.

Score: 7/10