Archive for the ‘Cinema Espanol’ Category

Antonio Banderas, Elena Anaya

“THE SKIN I LIVE IN”  My rating: B 

117 minutes |  MPAA rating: R

“The Skin I Live In” is one spectacularly sick movie.

I kinda loved it.

This heady mashup of “Frankenstein”/mad scientist horror story, sexual fantasy, revenge yarn and existential escape caper shows Spanish writer/director Pedro Almodovar indulging numerous of his well-chronicled obsessions.

The resulting film is simultaneously creepy and beautiful. Think of it as a less offensive (but equally disturbing) “Human Centipede” for the art house crowd.

Vera (Elena Anaya) is the only patient in a private clinic in the home of brilliant plastic surgeon Robert Ledgard (Almodovar stalwart Antonio Banderas).

Vera lives in a hermetically sealed, sterile-looking room. She wears a form-clinging body stocking outfitted with various flaps and zippers so that Robert can examine his handiwork. Clearly, Vera has undergone some major skin grafts.

What tragedy — accident, disease or birth defect — required such extensive surgery? (more…)

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Ayrton Senna

“SENNA” My rating: B (Opening Sept. 16 at the Tivoli)

106 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

Nearly two decades after his death the short, colorful racing career of Brazilian Ayrton Senna somehow seems bigger than ever. Especially now that we have “Senna,” an exciting (if hagiographic) documentary biography from ESPN Films.

Asif Kapadia’s movie is remarkable in that it relies exclusively on vintage footage — races, press conferences, interviews, home movies — to tell the story of the handsome kid who went from go-kart racing to winning Formula One championships. The only “new” stuff here are some recent sound bites from figures in Senna’s life.

“Senna” is a small masterpiece of archival editing.

The story is presented chronologically in no-nonsense fashion. We see Senna’s rise in the racing world, his partnership and eventual falling-out with team member (and fierce rival) Alain Prost and his run-ins with racing officials. (Senna is presented as a “pure” racer ill at ease with the politics and backroom scheming that found its way into the sport.)


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Jazmin Stuart and Daniel Hendler in “Phase 7”

“PHASE 7” My rating: C 

98 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Urbanites imprisoned in their own apartments are nothing new (see “Quarantine” and plenty of zombie movies), but the low-budget Argentine effort “Phase 7” tries to spice the genre up with droll humor.

Actually, “spice” is the wrong word to use here, since Nicolas Goldbart’s film is so laid back and casual that you can practically see it evaporating off the screen.

Coco (Daniel Hendler) and his wife Pipi (Jazmin Stuart) are city dwellers expecting their first baby. We encounter them in a supermarket where they seem not to notice that other shoppers are running around madly and grabbing items off the shelves as if the end of the world had just been announced. (more…)

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“God Went Surfing with the Devil”

The surfing documentary has been a cinema staple ever since Bruce Brown’s “Endless Summer” back in 1966, but I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything quite like “God Went Surfing with the Devil,” professional skateboarder Alexander Klein’s heady blend of Middle Eastern politics and wave-catching abandon.

Klein’s doc follows activists with Surfing4Peace who are attempting to do their small part for world peace by shepherding a shipment of surfboards into Gaza. They envision Arab enthusiasts joining their Jewish counterparts in riding the waves of Gaza’s sandy beaches.

Sounds like an easy enough task, (more…)

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For a long time gay cinema had basically one story: the coming-out tale.

But the liberalization of public attitudes about homosexuality (for most people under age 40 it’s simply not an issue) has meant that a “gay movie” now can be many things.

At the center of the Peruvian feature “Undertow” (on DVD May 31) is a same-sex relationship, but you’d be doing the picture a disservice by pigeonholing it as a gay movie.

Writer/director Javier Fuentes-Leon packs this feature with all sorts of good stuff. It’s a very realistic (more…)

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