Friday, February 25, 2011

EVEN THE RAIN--Icíar Bollaín's movie about movies, life and what's important--opens

First seen here in New York at the end of 2010 during the FSLC's annual series Spanish Cinema Now, EVEN THE RAIN from noted Spanish filmmaker Icíar Bollaín (MataharisTake My Eyes, Flores de otro mundo) and actress (Land and Freedom) finally opened for a theatrical run this past week. I saw it during SCN and was impressed enough to call it a don't-miss movie; ten weeks later it's still resonating.
This deeply-felt, cleverly-conceived movie-about-making-a-movie is Spain's submission for this year's Best Foreign Language Film. Though it made the nine-film shortlist, the film did not make the cut as one of the five finalists (Dogtooth did?). It's very smart about movie-making (a fact that the Academy no doubt appreciated), and while it's also progressive/liberal, it offers a keen and ironic eye for the film community's endless ability to deceive itself (something that community, perhaps, did not so much appreciate). In fact, an earlier version of the movie's poster offered this interesting and true tag line: Many want to change the world. Few want to change themselves.

Most important, Ms  Bollaín, shown at right, mixes film-making with politics, economics and social justice about as well as I've seen this sort of thing handled. While its flirting with senti-mentality is never quite consummated (the screen-writer is the Ken Loach-collaborator Paul Laverty), we're left with something feel-good that's also based on historical fact: the Bolivian water crisis of 2000. The situation posits a move crew filming a Christopher Columbus tale of colonization, just as that crisis over Bolivia's water, suddenly for sale, comes to a boil. The fine ironies of exploitation -- at which the film people excel, and which the film-with-a-film is also full of -- are brought home via some stiletto-sharp writing and performing.

Ms Bollaín has assembled a crack cast, every one of whom comes through beautifully: Gael García Bernal (below, right), Luis Tosar (below, left), Karra Elejalde, Raúl Arévalo and particularly an unforgettable newcomer named Carlos Aduviri (above), as a native Bolivian who gets himself, together with his friends and family, involved with both the movie and the water.


The film has taken some criticism about trying to "have it both ways," which strikes me as foolish. Of course the movie wants to have its cake and eat it, too.  That is part of the hypocrisy at work, and there is simply no chance that the filmmaker is not acutely aware of this (she certainly makes us aware of it!). More to the point of problematic might be that last-minute conversion of one of the film's characters, while another chooses an opposite scenario. Well, it convinced me. Ms Bollaín's understanding of and correct use of actors Tosar (last year's Cell 211, who radiates about as much strength as one performer can manage) and Bernal (who, despite his great beauty and skill, has a certain innate weakness about him) make both men's final decisions ring not just true but practically unavoidable.


Even the Rain (the title of which comes from the fact that, under this new "selling" of water rights, even the rainwater will no longer be free), from Vitagraph Films, is currently playing in New York City at the Angelika Film Center and the AMC Empire 25. And probably elsewhere soon. Try to see this one, if not now, then later on DVD.

3 comments:

AL said...

James Hi how are you. You are doing a terrific job, the best, but your Comment system is flawed. It cant take Comments while the text commented on is still on the screen, and it doesn't take a bookmark to show the Comment later. needs fixing.

You risk crippling your Comments by being so choosy that you don't display them until you check them out. Why not just let them go up and remove the obnoxious ones when you see them?

Also display Comments under the text. Why not? Maybe you think it will ruin the beauty of the display? Then there should be some way to display the individual post, with its Comments then.

Is there?

Best

Anthony L

James van Maanen, said...

Hey, Anthony! Long time no hear. I understand what you mean about the comments and the publishing of them, but mostly I get either reasonable, thoughtful comments (like yours), or spam that is selling something. The latter annoys the bejeezus out of me (I am not making any money from my blog, so I sure as hell don't want anyone else to!) and so I prefer to see the comment prior to posting it.

And the comments are displayed under the text (at least on MY computer). You just have to click on the word "Comments" to see them.

This all may be a function of how Blogspot does things, and which we bloggers who use them are not able to fiddle with.

AnthonyL said...

Wait, I am wrong, you can click to show the original post here, though not in all its usual glory.

And if you click the headline of a story, you get the review and Comments without the rest of the blog.

OK, but how long is this champion movie blog going to last without money for you?

Seems that the Web now exists for entrepreneurs to make $50 billion with all the content provided by readers, who are the new serfs, as the Times columnist David Carr famously observed the other day (see http://tinyurl.com/6dev2mc for interesting comments on that idea, too).

The only way journalists get paid is with ads, and they are hard to get and control on the Web. Maybe you can sucker AOL into paying a few million for your wondercraft, James.

Otherwise, we should try and track down the people doing the cutting edge thing which will get you the ads and money you deserve. But where are they? Must be somewhere.

Maybe they are mentioned in the Comment I linked at the Times to the David Carr piece.