Norma Aleandro

Norma Aleandro

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Only Human Review


Good
When the original Father of the Bride came out in 1950, it became clear that pre-wedding ceremonies were fertile land for moviemaking. It has spawned great movies (Late Marriage), great comedies (Meet the Parents),and a heap of charming but forgettable variants (chief example: My Big Fat Greek Wedding). Dominic Harari and Teresa De Pelegri's Only Human wants to be a great comedy but has moments of schizophrenia where it also wants to be serious. Head scratching is imminent.Rafi (Guillermo Toledo) has small lakes underneath his armpits from perspiration. His fiancée Leni (Marian Aguilera) suggests a quickie in the elevator before they reach her parents' apartment. There is much surprise when Leni's mother, Gloria (the fantastic Norma Aleandro), opens her arms without trouble to Rafi. The entire family, including an orthodox brother, a nymphomaniac sister, and a blind, war-obsessed grandfather, is happy to meet the shambling professor. That is, until they find out he is Palestinian. Gloria throws a fit, Leni threatens to leave, and Rafi gets so nervous that he accidentally throws a huge block of frozen soup out the window and almost kills a person.The wackiness only gets more demented as the injured man is dragged into the bus of a prostitute and the family invades Leni's father's office in an attempt to prove he is philandering. One could easily cast the film off as another in a long line of Meet the Parents-like escapades, but the comedy that is achieved here rings a much darker tone. Leni often questions the idea of morality in the face of staying with Rafi, who she loves more than her stature in god's eyes. Gloria often spills to both her girls that her sex life is all but dead and considers lesbianism.Trouble arises in a blunt, somewhat shameful argument that takes place between Leni and Rafi in the family bathroom. Where the political strife between the cultures had been a trembling bass line behind the humorous clamor, this argument suddenly forces all the implied attention into the opening. She spits angry sentiment about Palestine while he pushes back with generalizations about both the Jewish people and their faith. The actors strain to make this argument relative and real, but the scene is so obvious and turns all the film's energy into dead air. That clink you hear in the background is a wrench hitting the gears.For what is familiar territory by now, however, Only Human packs in the laughs and has an interesting enough array of characters. Its attempt at mixing the tommy-gun laughs of the Meet the Parents films and the venomous culture and class lines of Late Marriage isn't without its bravery and ingenuity, but it comes off clumsily and often puts the viewer in an awkward state of falling out of interest with the characters. The film succeeds in its bewildering dark sentiments but pushes them farther than they need to go.By the way, did you hear the one about the Palestinian and the Fundamentalist Christian who were stuck on an island together?Aka Seres queridos.

Cleopatra (2003) Review


Good
As Cleopatra, a retired Buenos Aires school teacher who is struggling to get by after her husband's layoff, and whose children long ago moved away, actress Norma Aleandro has a real screen presence. Her character is meant to be one who impacts those around her, and in Aleandro you can see it: She has a way of drinking in what others tell her, her bright eyes pondering their words with a bird-like stare, and she has a long, beaky nose. When she speaks, she flutters her hands or clutches at nonexistent pearls, and there's a swing in her walk that recalls nothing so much as a pigeon. Her openness to life is telegraphed in her reactions. In one scene she's taken with a song she hears on the radio while driving; when the man singing it says that his journey of self-discovery has revealed that there's a woman inside him, "and it's me," she blinks in surprise, considers this revelation, and then continues with her appreciation.

Aleandro is at the heart of the 2003 Argentinean film Cleopatra, and her quirky charm carries the film. The story follows her adventures after a chance encounter puts her in the company of a much younger and very beautiful television star named Sandra (Natalia Oreiro); Sandra is fed up with her producer/boyfriend, who's more obsessed with Sandra's career than with Sandra herself, and Cleo is fed up with her husband, who's given up on life following the loss of his job. Together the two embark on their own journey of self-discovery, taking off into the Argentinean hinterlands without notice and without a plan.

Continue reading: Cleopatra (2003) Review

Son Of The Bride Review


Excellent
It's comforting to know that hard-working people everywhere suffer from stress just as we Americans do. Rafael Belvedere, the good-looking, divorced, 42-year old restaurateur in Juan José Campanella's Son of the Bride is proof. At the center of this Argentine/Spanish production (a 2002 Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film), he is a foul-mouthed slave driver in the workplace, a forgetful Dad, an unfeeling son, and oh, he's about to have a heart attack. The health setback causes Rafael to rethink his path, and head for personal salvation; at the same time, Campanella redirects his own cinematic journey, turning a saccharine, overplayed concept into a smartly-written, touching family diary, full of drama and wit.

Just as the pre-cardiac arrest Rafa is vapid and unhappy, so is Campanella's film before the incident. Ricardo Darín, in the lead role, is a standout, sputtering dialogue like an angry boxer throwing jabs, but we've seen most of this before. He ignores the situations around him, works his fingers to the bone, and doesn't appreciate life. The prospects for an original, honest movie get worse when Rafa's aging father (Héctor Alterio) reveals his wish to renew his vows with Rafa's stunning mother (Norma Aleandro), regardless of her losing battle with Alzheimer's. Alterio's gushy proclamation is too sticky-sweet, and the film seems headed for soap opera territory.

Continue reading: Son Of The Bride Review

Norma Aleandro

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Son of the Bride Movie Review

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It's comforting to know that hard-working people everywhere suffer from stress just as we Americans...

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