Carlos Areces

review im so excited2

Pedro Almodóvar’s late career is revealing him to be a contemporary Alfred Hitchcock. For those whose perception of the Spanish director is filtered through his campy, punk-y early work, that may come as a surprise. But no other director working today has such a command of form, also Hitchcock’s true artistic medium. Hitchcock deployed his talent for pacing, timing and suspense in the service of the horror genre, though his films were leavened with comedic passages. Almodóvar displays the same control over the heartbeat of his films, and his nominal comedies all have tragic, horrifying premises. His latest, I’m So Excited!, is another of these tragicomedies masquerading as a farce, and it marks a return to form for one of the greatest directors working today. Its premise is not unlike a Hitchcock classic — Rope or Strangers on a Train — but inverted and in the air. In fact, its Spanish title, Los amantes pasajeros, could equally have been translated as Rakes on a Plane. Though he consistently nods to the current economic crisis rending Spanish society apart, Almodovar cares more about a well-executed farce than a timely piece of commentary. He’s more interested in narrative uplift, and his airplane comedy delivers that in spades. I’m So Excited! is a return to form, a maturation of his distinctive style, and a thoroughly enjoyable romp in the sky.

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I

Anyone who’s flown on a Southwest flight knows the flight attendants can get a bit silly. But hopefully the reason is not because they are taking pulls from hidden bottles of alcohol behind the privacy curtains. Unfortunately the passengers of Peninsula Flight 2549 in I’m So Excited are not so lucky, but their flight attendants have a good reason to try and take the edge off. A mistake that happened before the flight took off (thanks to the antics of a few grounds crew members plus two funny cameo appearances) damaged the landing equipment and now the pilots are trying to find a free runway to try and make an emergency landing. While the crew drugged the passengers in coach to keep them from noticing they had been flying in circles for hours (and nowhere near their intended destination), those in business class end up finding out the truth, and the results are not what you would expect.

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Foreign Objects - Large

The romantic comedy is a genre represented most frequently by stale, generic films that follow a paint-by-numbers formula devoid of personality and charm. To be sure, even the best examples follow a well established structure, but they also manage to make their characters endearing and likeable in situations both entertaining and recognizable. That recognition factor is important, so it’s rare to find a rom-com willing to take chances with its setup and subvert expectations along the way. Julio (Julián Villagrán) awakens in an unfamiliar bed in an unfamiliar apartment with a vaguely familiar woman. He sees Julia (Michelle Jenner) walking about clad only in a t-shirt, but whatever magic worked the night before to earn him an invite back to her place is apparently in short supply the morning after. She hurries him along, hustling him on his way, but they’re interrupted by Julia’s nosy neighbor, Angel (Carlos Areces). Angel has a crush on his beautiful neighbor and is immediately jealous of Julio’s presence. Further complicating matters is the arrival of a man named Carlos (Raul Cimas)… Julia’s live-in boyfriend. The remainder of writer/director Nacho Vigalondo‘s film, set mostly in and around the apartment, sees the quartet dodging and weaving with the best of their rom-com brethren. Julio and Julia flirt (and fornicate!) beneath Carlos’ nose while he occupies an odd amalgamated role that’s part cuckold and part catalyst for third act drama. Angel meanwhile becomes a thorn in the cheating lovers’ sides as he threatens to blow their secret […]

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Nacho Vigalondo Extraterrestrial

Let’s face it. When the alien invasion comes (and it will), most of us are going to be useless to help fight them back. We’re either going to be hiding or running for our lives into government-run bunkers. Nacho Vigalondo gets this, which is part of the reason why he chose not to focus on the heroes for his latest film, Extraterrestrial. His follow-up to TimeCrimes is a sci-fi flick married to a conversational screwball romantic comedy. He was gracious enough to give us a glimpse of his madcap mind – explaining his love for guilty characters, celebrating Invasion of the Body Snatchers and explaining the connection between his latest movie and the TV show Moonlighting. Extraterrestrial is out Friday, June 15 in select theaters, and you can demand it through Tugg.

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A beam of light threatens the poor, hungover eyeballs of Julio (Julián Villagrán) who wakes up in a bed he’s never been in before. That bed belongs to Julia (Michelle Jenner) who slinks around her apartment cleaning up from a night of drinking and random sex with a stranger. Up in the sky, a UFO has appeared floating above the city. In fact, they’re all over the place. Overnight, while two people were blacked out drunk, at least thirty have appeared over Spain. Who knows how many more all over the world. However, writer/director Nacho Vigalondo is less concerned about the ship and more concerned about the play-like humor and drama to be mined from a tangled relationship because, as it turns out, Julia is in high demand (especially by her boyfriend).

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An unassuming older man with salt and pepper hair and small-framed eyeglasses stands in front of a full crowd and proclaims with a smile pouring through his beard that there can be no laughter without suffering. He says, “To enjoy life, you must be a bad person.” He then reveals the good news that we’re all bad people before pointing out that the money he used to make his film could have been used to save lives, and since we’re enjoying what he’s made, we’re all complicit in their deaths. Normally, that might sound like dire claptrap from an over-sensitive prude, but the older gentleman on stage is Alex de la Iglesia, and he says every word with such child-like wonder and humor that it’s impossible not to recognize that 1) he’s right 2) he’s not judging and 3) he’s made a brilliant film about it. The Last Circus (also known as Balada Triste and A Sad Trumpet Ballad) is a whirlwind that examines two clowns, and their equally violent love of a beautiful acrobat. Javier (Carlos Areces) never had a childhood because the Spanish Civil War took it and his father from him. He decides to go into the family business as a clown, but he becomes a sad clown because he can’t make children laugh. He’s professionally the butt of the joke. He falls in love with Natalia (Carolina Bang), but she belongs to the abusive silly clown Sergio (Antonio de la Torre). What results is what always […]

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published: 12.23.2014
B+
published: 12.22.2014
C-
published: 12.19.2014
A-


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