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.
Continue reading: Swindled Review
This picture, starring the radiant and naked-most-of-the-time Victoria Abril (Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! and High Heels), is a schizophrenic tour of Loli's (Abril) life. Her philandering husband Laurent (Alain Chabat) walks all over her. The kids are a constant effort. And when Marijo (Josiane Balasko, who co-wrote and directed as well), a butchest-of-the-butch lesbian, shows up owing to car trouble, a sudden bond of friendship is formed. When Laurent's dalliances finally go too far, Loli finds comfort in the arms...and the bed...and even the bathtub of Marijo.
Continue reading: French Twist Review
The oddball setup offers much promise, as our main characters find themselves meeting at a sex addicts' support group. He (Javier Bardem) is a phone sex junkie and screenwriter. She (Victoria Abril, who may very well be a sex addict in real life if her other movies are any guide) is a basic slut and a radio talk show producer. Together they have a love-hate-screw relationship that gets all the stranger when Abril's husband (a cop) discovers a dead body in the trunk of a car where our heroes once did the nasty. Add to that, someone has been taping Bardem's phone sexcapades -- and selling them as audio porn!
Continue reading: Between Your Legs Review
The battle plays out over the soul of a pathetic boxer named Manny (Demián Bichir), who makes next to no impression in the film. All eyes are on the leading ladies and the jaunts through heaven, hell, and earth. Whether Abril's performing in a cabaret or Abril is eating lunch in her waitstaff's uniform, this bizarre production keeps you wondering, well, what the hell is going on in this movie?
Continue reading: Don't Tempt Me Review
It's a strange and distant tale that would only appear on Jerry Springer in America but comes off as quirky and cute when presented from the cold Nordic perspective. Hylnur still lives at home, and when mom brings in her flamenco instructor Lola (the Kinks' famous song of the same name -- about a she-male -- plays throughout the film and in the most bizarre of contexts), things get dicey. One drunken night, Lola and Hylnur get it on -- and Lola ends up pregnant. And guess what: Mom and Lola want to keep their baby.
Continue reading: 101 Reykjavík Review
A vivid and energetic dark comedy about a lifeless and lazy remnant of Generation X, the Icelandic import "101 Reykjavik" begins with its anti-hero tromping to the top of a mountain in the snow where he plans to smoke a cigarette and freeze to death because life has become too much for him to cope with.
Scruffy layabout Hlynur (Hilmir Snaer Gudnason) is so willfully aimless and irresponsible that he can't cope with much of anything beyond living with his mother and surfing web porn all day. So the chaos he brings upon himself by impregnating mom's wild lesbian girlfriend (Spanish actress Victoria Abril) is way too much -- I mean it would require energy, resolution and, god forbid, responsibility!
With a firm hold on the film's pungent sense of humor, director Baltasar Kormakur sets this stage then rewinds to trace Hlynur's path of ambition-free self-destruction, deftly crafting a self-deprecating sympathy for the guy along the way. Hlynur knows he's a zero ("My face is just sort of a frame around my glasses," he says in the movie's running commentary) but then, he thinks he lives in a world of zeroes and he's the only one with the courage to admit it and embrace it. Dragged to a family Christmas dinner -- where the elder generation enthusiastically watches a video of last year's Christmas dinner -- Hlynur opines "I'd rather go to a funeral. One less idiot."
Continue reading: 101 Reykjavik Review