Antonio Gasset, the great Spanish film critic, dies


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Some years ago Antonio Gasset had slipped away from the ‘days’ and from the ‘cinema’, the two words that, when put together, had given meaning to his life and his work. The days, naturally with their nights, which he used to dilate almost painfully, like a woman in labor the cervix. The public will remember him, without a doubt, for that program, ‘Movie days’, which he managed to elevate to the category of art with an inimitable style and with an extraordinary handling of the irony, sarcasm and a special nose for movies and for television audiences, also special, who waited until inappropriate hours to see and hear it. The so-called ‘leads’ of Antonio Gasset, so serious, irreverent and scathing, were explosions of his personality, his way of thinking, joking and looking at life between film reviews.

His disappearance from the small screen also had the pernicious effect of taking him out of that other territory in which he was a unique specimen, the International Film Festivals … Gasset was going to Cannes, to Venice, to Berlin, to San Sebastián …como Wyatt Earp por Dodge City, with that perfect mix of head high, colt ready and willing to duel and with that air of someone who is known to live in legend a little. Despite which, he knew how to become (or couldn’t help it) a close character and the funniest and most caustic (sometimes dangerous) guy on this side of the Pecos. A dinner with Antonio Gasset At the table it could start at Dreyer, continue at Richard Lester and end at Alberto Sordi (also at Haneke), and how many times have we seen one or more diners disengage from their chairs between spasms of laughter.

The Antonio Gasset, public and cinephile, managed to leave countless pearls about the cinema he liked and especially about the one he didn’t like. It never took two sentences to troll a film or a director, and he had that rare virtue of the very cinephile of getting angry (jokingly, at times) with whoever thought otherwise. Personally, I have been fortunate to share many, many, infinite days of cinema with Antonio Gasset, of course with his nights, and with some of the most accurate and sharp characters of film criticism, such as Ángel Fernández Santos, Carlos Boyero or José Luis Guarner, and with the greats of Spanish cinema, such as Querejeta, Enrique González Macho, Paco Rabal …, in short, no one like Gasset in his sauce to make us all cry with laughter.

And behind its facade and its fortification of sarcasm, there was a cultured man, a hidden intellectual (jokes about his family relationship with the philosopher José Ortega y Gasset were never lacking), a great reader and, of course, a great connoisseur of the cinema and its surroundings. Talking with him about films, I say, carried its risks if you did not agree with the greatness of, for example, Philippe Garrel, but with a swerve you could take him to other areas where not only harmonize, but also be surprised and learn. It will not be easy to forget that explosive and exclusive character, nor some knowledge that he put into my hands, such as ‘Marca de agua’, by Joseph Brodsky, or ‘Meditations’, by Marco Aurelio. A souvenir from here for your Berlin.

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