domingo, 26 de abril de 2009

Smackdown over at Stinkylulu

It's this time of the month again, and Stinkylulu has organized yet another fantastic smackdown, this time celebrating the supporting actress nominees for 1959. I've had the pleasure to participate and rescreen all the films again. To see my comments and everyone else's, go here.

I was quite suprised that Shelley Winters won the first of her two Oscars for her portrayal or Mrs. Van Daan in The Diary of Anne Frank. I think she is good in it, but she came nowhere near her competitors. My winner is Juanita Moore, undoubtedly the best in the bunch as the long suffering mother of fellow nominee Susan Kohner in Imitation to Life. Go figure, I had even forgotten most of the plot involving Lana Turner and Sandra Dee, all my memories of the first time I saw the film were of that incredible mother-daughter dilemma.

In a close second spot comes Hermione Baddeley, whose clever performance in A Room at the Top might be the shortest ever to be nominated. And yet it's much better than most of the stuff we are getting lately in this category.

Well, without further ado, go and enjoy the smackdown.

sábado, 25 de abril de 2009

The men in Los Abrazos rotos (Broken Embraces)

When was the last time Almodóvar directed a male-centric film? Well, actually it's not that long (this one back in 2004). But when was the last time he directed a successfully male-centric film?. Now you see my point.

Forget Penélope. Oh, she's great, but she's not the lead. Sorry, she's not. Nope. This time leading duties fall on Lluís Homar, an Almodóvar vet who played Manuel Berenguer (the real-life, secular version of Father Manolo) in La mala educación. He got greatish reviews for that one, but his performance there gets nowhere near the greatness of his creation this time. I won't spoil you, don't worry. But I'll tell you he's the best leading man in any Almodóvar film. And that includes him and him. He's that good.

In descending level of greatness, next in line is José Luis Gómez, a beloved character actor (and Cannes winner) who holds himself nicely against Penélope and Homar. This is Gómez's first time with Almodóvar, which isn't surprising because he doesn't work that much after all. Well, he works, but not so much in the big or small screens. Anyway, be ready to beware, despise, hate and pity him. A worthy supporting turn, no doubt, and the kind that could attract awards attention with the right publicity.

What to say about the other two male actors with significant roles? Tamar Novas (on the right in a weird striped suit) and Rubén Ochandiano (left) have been in the wait for a breaktrough such as this for quite a time. You might remember Tamar Novas from Oscar-winning Mar adentro (The Sea Inside), and I don't think you've seen Ochandiano anyhwhere unless you are a Spanish cinema aficionado or you've seen Soderbergh's second part of Che. These two young actors are given pivotal roles in Los abrazos rotos, but neither fulfilled my expectations. They've been better elsewhere.