Ernesto Alterio

Ernesto Alterio

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The Method Review

Very Good
The reality television metaphors come flying at you fast and thick in Spanish filmmaker Marcelo Piñeyro's The Method, which provides for a lot of easy audience identification -- hey, I've seen Survivor -- but makes it just a bit too recognizable for comfort, at least until the end, when its existential modus operandi becomes terrifyingly clear. There are plenty of other comparisons to be drawn from this exercise in business-world gamesmanship, from Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross to LaBute's In the Company of Men, though Piñeyro's has a more gender-neutral agenda: in short, women are just as exceptional bastards as men.

Set almost entirely in a nicely-appointed conference room in a Madrid office building, The Method begins with a very telling split-screen montage: As we watch the characters go about their morning routines, traffic is piling up and the streets thickening with protestors. The IMF-World Bank conference is in town and the anti-globalization forces are marshalling for a Seattle-esque day of angry confrontation. But this is of little concern to the seven, who have taken advantage of the protests (many offices have shut down for the day) to go to a group interview for an executive job at Dexia Corporation. Of course, we are never privy to knowing what it is that Dexia does, but such specifics are entirely beside the point.

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Swindled Review

I love me a good con man movie. I love 'em right up. And while Spanish director Miguel Bardem's Swindled has most of the elements you need to create a movie that earns the film's title, it still doesn't reach the rarified air of classics like House of Games or even near-classics like Nine Queens, another Spanish-language con game that had you guessing until the final scene.

Start with the good: The first of two exciting stars, the elder statesman of Spanish cinema, Federico Luppi (Cronos), as the elder statesman of the Spanish con game. Happenstance brings him Ernesto (Ernesto Alterio), a small-time crook who joins with Federico to pull off the heist of their lives. The musky Victoria Abril, Federico's (improbable) ex-lover and the other highlight of the movie, stumbles into the scene with even bigger ideas. Before long they've concocted a scam that could net them millions.

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The Other Side Of The Bed Review

Terribly ill-advised, this film combins a sex romp with a musical -- and neither side works very well. A sextet (or so) of Spaniards couple in various combinations. After they've got their rocks off, they espouse absurd theories about JFK, Marilyn Monroe, and the modern world. Then it moves on to song and dance numbers (with some truly awful singing and questionable dancing). This is all meant to be whimsical and not-serious, but it comes off as pathetic and sad. Basically, they forget that in a good sex comedy, the emphasis is on comedy.

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