Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Money Heist--the best heist movie ever?

The title may be an audacious claim and I will qualify it by saying in my experience "Money Heist" (2017-2021) indeed is the best heist movie.  It is different in several regards.  Instead of trying to get the stolen goods out as soon as possible, they want to delay the process.  Hostages that have been well researched are more important and processed differently than other heist films plus the robbers want to work with the public. 

They did not go into the Spanish money mint planning a quick exit, but rather stalled to have a long stay.  They were not robbing what everyone expected.  There are four groups---the robbers and the police, the hostages and the mint staff and each group has different often times conflicting motivations.  During the series there are dynamic changes in the relationships.

Preparation is key.  It is for all of us and in this project the planning takes several months preceded by much more serious thought. One detail is that the people involved are told not to use their real names even among themselves.  So they adopt names of cities.  They hide behind masks made to resemble famous Spanish artist Salvador Dali.

The key character, known as the Professor has to be one of the most thorough planners ever shown on screen.  He anticipates pretty much every obstacle and the opportunity to overcome it.  There are a few unexpected slip-ups, but they are well handled.  Like a lot of series there are cliff hangers that keep the viewer engaged, however it should be added there are many other challenges in the middle of episodes.

Like some, I noticed a change in tone after the two seasons which were done by the Spaniards.  Then apparently Neflix exerted more control and the stories were subjected to American ideas of what works--more gun shooting, more hand combat and more explosions.  But clever plotting remained and the actors were very likable. We all love to see the small guy beat the arrogant bosses.  The characters are very engaging and we get to know most of them in more depth over time.

It took a lot of people to make this a big success.  Here are only a few.

Created by Alex Pina who wrote scripts as head writer and also producer.  He began as a journalist and started writing and editing films in 1993.  From 1997 he became a creator and producer.  In 2016 he founded Vancouver Media and made "La Casa de Papel" which in English translates to "Money Heist."  It has won a few awards and has generated a massive following.

Jesus Colmenar, is a director and producer who has worked on several other projects with Alex Pina. 

Javier Gomez Santander is a writer and co-executive producer with a good track record.  He has been a journalist

Ivan Martinez lacamara and Manuel Santisteban handled the music

Migue Amaedo, David Azcana and Serge Brtoli provided the music.

Luismi Glez Bedmar, David Pelegrin and Regino Hernandez, headed the editorial staff.

Ursula Corbero was the main story teller keeping the viewer aware of developments.  Her name was Tokyo.  She started in films in 2002 at age 13.  As a spinoff she was noticed by an American producer and hired for "Snake Eyes" 2021) without an audition.

Alvaro Morte plays the main character, the Professor who mostly seems unflappable, but his tone is challenged a lot.  His performance in this series has resulted in 7 awards and a few nominations.

Itziar Iturbo makes the biggest swing of any character and handles it very well.  She begins as the main negotiator  and is both clever and ruthless.  Itziar got her first break in film after she learned to speak Basque and appeared in a few films.  She has also sung with three different bands.

Pedro Alonso plays Berlin, the nominally in charge leader of the robbers.  He is tyrannical in a comical sort of way.  He won an award for this role.  He brings a lot of humor to the role and is considered the funniest among cast and crew members.

Miguel Herran plays Rio who likes to dance.  

Alba Flores plays Nairobi, one of two flamboyant leading ladies among the robbers.   She wasn't originally in the series, until Alex Pino realized there was only one woman with the robbers.  He remembered Alba from a previous film ("Vis a Vis" 2015-2019 ) and asked if she would be interested and if so he would write a role for her.  She really adds pizzazz. 

Najwa Nimri starts off as a hostage, but switches sides later on.  Najwa was in "Open Your Eyes" (Abre los Ojos 1997).  Najwa not only has sung in bands, but has turned out albums and composed for five movies. 

Jaime Lorent plays Denver.  He had appeared in "Everybody Knows" (2018).

Ferrnando Cayo plays a heavy in charge of the government response for the second robbery.  He has appeared in "The Skin I Live In" (2011).  

I remember an early Netflix collaboration with Spanish film makers.  It was about mediation in a dramatic setting.  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2016/11/7-anos.html

To really appreciate the series Netflix also offers a documentary on the series.  Scientific calculations, sets, makeup, posturing, team scripting, rehearing on a treadmill.  It also contains spoilers.

I understand there is a Korean version being filmed under guidance of Alex Pina.  Most remakes are not quite as good as the original, but I was impressed how the Korean version of Designated Survivor turned out.   http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/10/designated-survivor-60-days-remake-of.html

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