Friday, March 19, 2010

3SOME (aka Paper Castles, aka Castillos de cartón) debuts On-Demand

TrustMovies has been wondering just why a review he posted over three months ago is suddenly getting so many hits that it's now among his top ten posts.  The reason: In the interim IFC Films has picked up this exceptional movie, now titled 3SOME (originally called Paper Castles: Castillos de cartón in its Spanish language title), for an On-Demand release.  TM is happy to know this because the film is one of those that are so fine in so many ways, that it hurt to think it might not be seen again here in the U.S. (3some was first shown here as part of last year's Spanish Cinema Now series from the Film Society of Lincoln Center.)

As my original review notes, the movie is very smart about art, young people, self-image and sexuality, and all of these things come to the fore during its brief but powerful 94 minutes.  The sex scenes are among the best -- original, funny, moving and real -- I've ever seen, and the use of nudity (including plenty of full frontal) is handled so well and believably that it's a pleasure to view on several levels.

The importance of art in the lives of these kids is also something the film brings beautifully to life. I am trying to recall another movie in which art -- appreciating it, talking about it, making it -- is conceived and executed any better than here, and I am (except perhaps for Seraphine) coming up short. The relationship between these three kids also rings terribly, hilariously, sadly true, and this is the subject the director (Salvador García Ruiz, shown at right) and his screenwriter Enrique Urbizu (based on a novel by Almudena Grandes) capture in spades.

The three kids could hardly be better, and I hope we'll see them soon again: Adriana Ugarte (shown above, left with Nilo Mur) and Biel Durán (shown below).  The character played by Señor Mur, in particular, is full of surprise. We don't know until the end, just how smart and sad this fellow is, and when he unburdens, it is both devastating and cleansing. The quietest of the three, he also turns out to be the most perspicacious.

3some will be available On-Demand until May 11, 2010, as part of IFC's Festival Direct program; click here to learn if it's in your particular area.  I would advise a watch before it's On-Demand time is up.  Though, even then, I suspect it will make a DVD appearance.

At least, I hope so.

31 comments:

SEAL wife said...

Thanks for reviewing it, I just saw it in IFC and I was truly moved. I haven't seen a film so natural, raw and so indicative of how art is talked about, how complex relationships can sometimes flow effortlessly and to the contrary, and how sexuality plays a role in all we do. As a young adult, I felt an instant connection, but as someone that enjoys films, I was in awe of the films beauty and sadness. The actors were truly amazing and I would love for everyone to see this movie, although some might mis-understand it.

austin said...

i too just saw the movie and was so moved by it's beauty, both on canvas and on film, that i can only call it "haunting." the intricacies both spoken and unspoken between each of the characters melds with each one's artistic development (or lack of)are very subtle yet at the end become as clear as crystal. i was surprised by the ending though... i didn't know where she was, in what house, but i could hear the waves so i assume she was in the beach house. i must confess however that i prefer more of a concrete ending than this... i don't like loose strings. so, if anyone has a version of "what did finally happen with the three" i would love to read it.

James van Maanen, said...

OK, readers: If any of your are also writers, get to it. Come up with a sequel to the film so we can follow these characters farther. I'm sure the one played by Nilo Cruz will becomes a successful artist (if he chooses to follow that path, at least), but the other two? Hmmmm. Lots of possibilities here. Like an empty canvas, right -- so pick up your brush....

Anonymous said...

I think what happened in the end is both men left and she ended up alone. Both men felt they needed to try go grow outside of the relationship the three of them shared and it was because of the realness and honesty they shared that they found the strength they needed in themselves to move on with their lives and continue to grow as individuals.

James van Maanen, said...

Finally, six months later, Anonymous comes through with an interesting "What Happened" take on all this. Thanks, Anon. Your idea that, because of this threesome relationship, both men find the strength to move on with their lives is a positive one, though it seems more probable in the case of the character played by Nilo Cruz. But she ending up alone? I somehow doubt this -- unless she wants to, of course. On the other hand, after THIS relationship, she may never again find anything so unusual and fulfilling on certain levels.

Anonymous said...

i also watched on TV and get moved.
i recongized Jose is in her home at the end.
i think Jose should go/find with one of them.

James van Maanen, said...

And thanks to you, too, (yet another) Anon. I THINK I get what you mean, but obviously there's a bit of a language barrier here.

Anonymous said...

She loved them both...
They each wanted her for their own...
As men do...when they don't get what they want...they leave...but they can never forget her raw beauty and courage to give all she is...an incredible symbol of love... Marcos remembers...
~
~
~

James van Maanen, said...

Thanks, Anon. Your take on what happens later seems pretty possible and quite right, emotionally and character-wise. It's nice to see how strongly this movie affects so many of you. A sign of its quality, I think.

Anonymous said...

I just finished this movie, and it was fantastic. Someone else used the word "haunting", and I think that nails it. The loose ending definitely goes along with the haunting vibe, such that I am actually feeling a deep longing for "what they once had", a feeling I think was trying to be portrayed in the final scene. As far as whether Jose ends up alone, I'm not quite sure, but I definitely think that the relationship of all three of them is over. All in all, a great movie!

James van Maanen said...

And thanks to you, yet another Anon. "Haunting" is indeed a good word to use for this movie, and I agree with you, too, about the loose end fitting the situation (and the movie) quite well. Maybe their paths will cross again somewhere down the line. In any case, a mark of this film's great strength and its ability to reel us in and keep us interested is the fact the so many viewers seem to care so much about these characters. A bravo is due the writer and director.

This film, along with Matthew Chapman's The Ledge are the two that have drawn the most comments on my blog. I'm happy about that, as both films have been far too under-seen by the masses, worldwide, and both are original and very worthwhile.

Noah said...

I watched the film 2 dayes ago and felt all the love and tenderness from all three of them. I was deeply touched and could easily share the filling with these three beautiful and warm hearted peaople. A great and sensitive movie.
Noah

James van Maanen said...

Thanks for commenting, Noah. I agree with all you say -- and am glad you found this wonderful movie.

Anonymous said...

I felt very moved by this film. Upon reading the title and description I expected another movie with pointless sex scenes and no meaning behind the plot. But indeed I was wrong. The interweaving of sexuality and friendship as well as the love for art really left me with many feelings towards the characters of the movie. I also enjoyed that there was no story book ending. The film left me wondering at the end and gave us the opportunity to infer an ending on how we interpreted the movie throughout. So here is my thought on how the love triangle will end up (multiple thoughts here):

If I was to pick an ending from my heart I would say that Jose ends up with Marco because he may want her for himself, but he truly understands Jose and she understands him. Marco loves Jose beyond the sex, and they actually take part in meaningful conversation throughout the film hence why I'd like to see Jose stay with Marco.

If I was to pick an ending from the clues throughout the movie I would say that Jose gets back with Jaime. First off, the one scene on the beach when Jose and Jaime speak about the night before while Marco isn't around, Jaime says that Marco must not know that they had sex and Jose says "ever". To me this means they made a pact to never tell Marco. Also, in my opinion Jose seems more physically attracted to Jaime because of Marcos impotence, hence why I think that Jaime and Jose will get back together.

I was slightly confused at the end when Marcos asked Jose if she would wait for him and she shook her head yes. When Marco used the word him, did he mean himself or Jaime. This could be a clue to who she ends up with as well.

Lastly, I can see them all parting ways. This would be the last possible ending for me. I can see Jose not being able to chose between the two because I believe she truly loves them equally. She may see it as not fair to pick one or the other, so she'll pick neither. And possibly end up alone as they all can remember the beauty of the relationships they had at one time.

Well sorry for such a long post, but I truly felt moved beyond words and to be honest haven't felt this close to characters in a movie for a long time. To me this movie deserves more positive ratings than it got!

James van Maanen said...

Thanks for this lovely comment, Anon -- and don't worry about the length. All of what you say here is indeed possible, but most important, I think, is your final paragraph. My companion and I also experienced this same thing: feeling so very close to these characters. That's the real strength of the movie and why it seems to touch in such a surprising way so many of us: 3SOME brings us completely into the lives of these three young people, in addition to its being so smart about art and youth and sex and all the rest.

Inga Tipp said...

I read an English intro to the novel and apparently they all go their separate ways. The novel opens with Maria Jose working as an art appraiser at an auction house, where she is contacted by her former lover, Jaime, who informs her of Marcos's suicide. Then the story we know from the film is recalled as a flashback. My interpretation of the film's ending was that she chose Jaime (wishful thinking!) but it seems I was wrong.

James van Maanen said...

Inga--
Thank you so much for this comment. You're the only one to have given us info on the original novel. Interesting stuff, too. And sad. But not entirely unexpected, I think.

I'm glad, however, that the movie simply gave us the kids as kids -- without that further information.

shadesofawesome said...

This movie was plain dumb shit to be honest. I waited for the depth until the last scene but it never showed up. The expectation build up (weakly so) where only to be disappointed. It all started so damn abrutly we weren't even given a second to familiarize ourself with the charecters and their personalities, only getting a glimpse of it (this being nowhere near enough for me to understand and connect with their feeling/passion). T

he topic has so very much potential yet I only saw 30 % of it in this movie. If the aim of it was to scaredly nudge the surface of the water then good job. So it wasn't entirely bad, the love scenes were very classy and so the nudity and it was a bit beautiful but will I remember it after a week? Most likely not.

James van Maanen said...

Thanks for the comment, Shades. Some of us, however, still remember the movie -- and not after one week but several years. We've watched it again, in fact, just to glean more from it.

The film gains its depth as it moves along -- which is the best way to do this, I think. Otherwise, it's usually via too much exposition and ham-handedness.

You get to know the characters, just as you do in real life, from the experience of being with them and observing. And there's a lot here -- about people, art, love, sex and self-worth -- to observe.

Anonymous said...

I have just watched this movie on 'SBS On Demand' and having reached the end, felt compelled to replay the last 30 mins feeling that I must have missed some important clues! I was perplexed about what the sound was coming from down the hall in Jose's parent's house as she sat reflecting on happier times. This was a richly layed and deeply complex movie, beautifully directed. While the ending was unsettling, it was nice to have something that challenged my thinking, rather than some one dimensional Hollywood storybook ending. I agree with Annoymous' comment about the satisfaction of being able to infer the ending, so here are my thoughts. To me the central theme of self-realization and the perplexities of the human condition provide the key to the final interpretion of the ending. On their own, none of the characters feel complete. Forever looking outside themselves for fullfillment, they are not able to capture a sense of completeness. Self-doubt determine that Marcos needs both Jose and Jamie to fulfil his full potential and happiness. Ego initially fuels Jamie's sense of completeness, initially fed by being a virile lover, but later disallusioned when he discovers Marcos has 'used' him as a way to achieve his own self-actualization. I think this is why he says "Bastard" when he is viewing Marcos' work in the gallery. In the final bedroom scene he realizes that on his own, he will never be enough to satisfy Jose, especially when she says to Marcos "I know, I feel that too." From then he knows that any relationship between himself and Jose alone, will never be enough. While all of them are using each other on some level to find inner happiness, they become increasingly unsettled in realizing that even together, all 3 are not able to bring 'flow' to each and every part of their lives. Jose cannot achieve orgasm or find her artistic passion. Jamie becomes suspicous and lacking in confidence, both in his art, relationships and with his own ability to satisfy another sexually. I don't believe he and Jose end up together because she continues to remain frigid. Also, he recognises himself and Jose in the Black Dog painting. It will not work with Marcos and Jose, because he needs Jamie as well. Jose realises that neither of them is enough for her on their own or together, an insight we get from her ongoing frigidity and from the painting where she is staring into the 'void.' Any future with Marcos is doomed from the moment he revealed he could only survive with all 3 of them and that he would be holding them accountable for his future to live without suicide. Using Jose's parents hall as a metaphor for the 'dark tunnel' Marcos referred to when he described his sense of depression, powerfully hinted that Jose was left feeling lost and deeply saddened by the fact that the relationship she has seen as being full of possibility to take her life in a direction as far away from her parents, has in fact lead her to that very place. Perhaps the final sound from down the hall, are the bed sheets as they are being changed, symbolising either that there is a new future for Jose somewhere down the track or more depressingly that, even in a bed being shared by others, ones sense of aloneness is sadly confronting. Marcos knows most strongly that passion comes from within, but even he cannot live this and is constantly being pulled back into external gratifications. Jose knows this too, but is fearful, so uses sex as a distraction. Her worst fear is to live a life lacking in passion, such that she sees her parents lives. Her naivity and lack of life experience, unfortunately lead her to this very place. And so the final scene, back in her parents lifeless house is hauntingly fitting.

James van Maanen said...

Whew, Anon -- this is quite a comment! Certainly the most psychologically astute that any of us has offered. Yours is SO specific, however, that I am inclined to think you've perhaps slightly over-analyzed things. Or maybe not. In any case, thank you for this comment. It's worth reading twice -- which I have just finished doing.

I noticed that my readership just went up by a couple of hundred hits yesterday, so I looked into the reason: Sure enough -- it was 3SOME. This pleases me no end, as the film remains one of the richest I've seen over my nearly five years of blogging. The current SBS ON DEMAND showing lasts only another four or five days, so I hope the film continues to draw good crowds.

Cuong Tran said...

This is a good movie. But in my opinion, there are some scenes need to be cut to make the movie better . This is an open ending and it is really good for audience to choose the way they want to end it up. I enjoyed it.

James van Maanen said...

Thanks for posting, Cuong -- but I wish you'd told us WHICH scenes could have been cut. I guess well have to use our fertile imaginations to figure that out.

Mark Zerr said...

I've seen it a couple times over the years on IFC. This time the ending left me wanting some type of conclusion. That brought me here.

After the last viewing I felt Marcos was dead and never achieved fame. He lost creativity with the loss of the love and tension he fed on.

Jamie I saw as still in school as a bitter teacher he made fun of in his youth while feeding his ego with younger students, and always thinking of Marcos.

Jose seemed destined for an art gallery selling other artist work. Married to a safe husband, living a comfortable life, like her mother, but always wondering "what if."

James van Maanen said...

Wow -- Mark: Interesting ideas here, and quite possibly right on the money, too. Probably darker than I would have imagined for this threesome, but then I tend to go on the lighter side. Your thoughts on where Jaime ends up seem especially cogent and quite possible, I think. I can certainly imagine Jaime being this self-loathing.

Thanks for posting, Mark!

Anonymous said...

I have just seen this movie on Foxtel and after reading most of the blogs here I feel one aspect of the movie has been either been overlooked or I have totally missed the point.......that is, I thought Marcus overcame his impotence. This was evidenced by the Jose's parents bathroom scene where Jose even states that he has a hard on and therefore have sex..." Do you feel it ? " she states. I assumed she meant that he could feel her vagina with his penis ?
I also thought the 2 of them were having penetrative sex in the scene here Jamie maturbates.
This shifted the relationship between the 3 of them, otherwise why would Jose choose an impotent man over a virile one ?
She is young , beautiful and passionate, that's what kept the relationship between her and Jamie live.
Another thing that has been misinterpreted by some blogs and the movie itself, and that is the use of the word frigid. Jose was not frigid, she loved sex.
Just because a woman can't orgasm doesn't mean she is frigid. A frigid woman is a person who finds sex either unpleasant or awkward and is reticent about penetration

James van Maanen said...

I would agree with you, Anon, that this fellow did indeed overcome his impotence. Perhaps this was obvious enough that many people got it and felt it didn't even need to be commented upon.

You comments about women's frigidity are worthwhile, too. Sometimes descriptive words such as "frigid" are tossed about without the user fully understanding what they mean. I would never call Jose a frigid woman: She is way too alive sexually (and in all other areas) to qualify for that overused term.

Men sometimes use this word to describe a woman who is uninterested in them sexually. But she's not frigid at all, really: She is simply "frigid" to THEM!

Anonymous said...

Having accepted that Marcus is no longer impotent then this brings about a completely new dimension to the relationship between the 3, it seriously complicates matters.
Jamie was jealous of Marcus's good looks but knew that amounted to nothing when it came to making love, he was far superior. This could have been negated if there were scenes showing Marcus involved in oral sex but there wasn't .
Marcus is now the better looking , arguably the nicer bloke who now can perform as well as Jamie
Jamie has lost the 'upper hand' so to speak. The relationship is now doomed. Jamie warned Marcus not to do anything, "not to try" was his words, when he was leaving........jealousy has taken root.
They go their separate ways

James van Maanen said...

Interesting observations (on what we can't see but what does make sense via your scenario). Jamie is indeed the less secure of the two young men, so when he no longer holds the upper hand, he must beat it. (And I don't mean his meat.)

Your description that helps fill out the story is more than a possible one. However, things we still don't know about the filming of this movie -- perhaps the actor who plays Marcus was not comfortable showing full-frontal or engaging in sex scenes, and so this in itself might have forced the director into making some of the choices that he did -- might have had a lot to do with what we finally see on screen.

Movie-making is so collaborative that, until we know the whole story -- which we seldom do, I believe -- we can only go with what we see and try to make sense of that.

That said, your analysis is as good as any I've encountered.

matthew said...

loved the movie - really want a copy of the soundtrack - can't find it anywhere so far :-(

James van Maanen said...

Hey, Matthew--
The most likely place to find it, I would imagine, is via Amazon Spain. I went on that site, and did find one CD, I think, when I entered CASTILLOS DE CARTON (the movie's original Spanish title) followed by the word "musica". A few things came up but only one for the literal Castillos de Carton, and what I found may refer to some other "paper castles." So good luck.

What you might possibly do is simply buy the DVD (if you have an all-region DVD player) and listen to that numerous times until the score has thoroughly sunk in....