A gang of armed robbers finds a safe haven in a secluded village crammed with witches—only to encounter the bizarre, the unexpected, and the occult. Can they save themselves, and the rest of the world from the next witch apocalypse?
The film’s synopsis is straight forward enough: Jewel thieves flee into the Basque forests and are captured by a coven of witches. But this movie is so much more that.
The movie starts off with a BANG —literally—in the Puerta del Sol (think Times Square), as a motley crew of plaza performers panhandlers dressed in pop culture costumes But is no themed flash-mob in the making, and certainly looking for more than a few Spanish pesetas from the tourists – they are staking out a jewelry store they are about to hit for a small fortune onion gold wedding rings and other heirlooms.
Not since Danny DeVito’s 1989 comedy The War of the Roses has s film captured the offbeat, tragic, and absurd battle-of-the-sexes with such kinetic vigor. The film is directed by Alex de la Iglsias (The Oxford Murders (2008) / The Last Circus (2010) / As Luck Would Have it (2011), who is often compared to Mexican director Guillermo del Toro but has a style all his own.
The dialogue is fast-pace like a Spanish translation of Reservoir Dogs (1992), and may sound even faster to non Spanish-speaking audiences trying to keep up with the subtitles. But not to worry – nothing is lost as the translation is as tight as the film itself.
WITCHING & BITCHING (2013), helmed by legendary Spanish director Álex de la Iglesia, the film is a force onto itself. The film is being released in the U.S. by IFC Midnight (the genre arm of IFC Films). W&B is a Spanish language film (with English subtitles)
I must admit that I favor the more eloquent original Spanish tittle over the English redact: “Las Brujas de Zugarramurdi” – or ‘The Witches of Zugarramurdi.’ But the film does have to be marketed, so…we understand (sort of). The English title is more apropos to the theme of the film: there’s a whole lot of bitchin’ going on.
SpongeBob Squarepants gets a blast sub machine-gun to my glee (scratch that off my bucket list).
has taken his son as the heist – he only gets him on Tuesdays, after all. ‘Who would you rather be spend time with – me or your mother?’ You dad!
a cache of gold wedding rings and medallions – “A thousand broken promises”
Prophesy: boy is the ‘chosen one’
Their getaway takes them to the town of Zugarramurdi, where, we learn, witchcraft got its origins (and the site of the infamous Basque witch trials in the 17th century. Unfortunately for the bumbling boys, they have crossed over into She-Woman Man-Haters Club territory, where witchcraft is the last bastion of feminism, and after a millennia of suffrage at the hands of the patriarchy, it’s time for revenge and there’s skin to pay. Dinner anyone?
The film suddenly jumps off the rails a bit in the third act and into hyper-fantastical overdrive, when the mother of all witches appears for her sacrificial offerings.
The timing of the slapstick/sanguine comedy is flawless, and we’re led across the liner timeline with masterful precision. Each of the characters grow on us and we come away with the sense that we really know these figures in some form or fashion. Come to think of it, W&B would make an excellent TV series (and Iglesias already has the background in that medium)!
The film does bog down a bit in the third act as the epic ceremony where the ‘chosen one’ will be given up as a sacrifice to the external Mother, to be reborn as the coven’s ‘Trojan Horse’ against the male species. Here Iglesias hovers a few beats too long in the spectacle of several hundred extras –getting every penny of production value from the cavernous location. Still, the nuances from the cast is enough to draw you back in short order before the main course is served.
The unfortunate trio end up in Zugarramurdi,
The movie stars Hugo Silva as José, a divorced father of a son Mario Casas who is behind on his alimony and can only see his charge on Tuesdays.
Trilogies are paramount here. Then there’s our feminine covenant who is hell-bent on exacting their revenge. While the alludes to the 17th century genocide of their sistren, it’s safe to say that commabutons kamoutons are due for all the man has on the female, including leaving those toilet seats down.
If we’re to take our cues from the film’s title, Maura is the Queen B, who keeps the campaign of taking over the world going year after year. Grandmother had previously tried and failed to exact their nefarious plan. And then there’s who is the modern witch the covenant has invested much of their resources as the heir apparent. Who rides in on the ultimate symbol of masculinity – a motorcycle.
If you’re invited to a feast at the town of Zugarramurdi, and are not provided a menu, just know that you’re on it.
2013 / Spain / 112 minutes / Rated R