Tuesday, January 19, 2010

THE PARANOIDS opens, Daniel Hendler scores in Gabriel Mendina's film

You wouldn't think that any movie about a character who's a major depressive would involve you so thoroughly for all of its 100-minute running time. But then you haven't seen Gabriel Medina's unusual Argentine film THE PARANOIDS, opening this Friday in New York City's Cinema Village for a limited theatrical release.

Medina (shown at left) has wisely chosen the popular Argentine star Daniel Hendler, shown below, left (of The Bottom of the Sea, Queens, and the "family"  trilogy of Daniel Burman),  to play the depressed one, Luciano, who thankfully has not quite reached a level of complete paranoia.  The film's title refers to a very popular TV show in Spain, the creator of which is a childhood friend of Luciano who has taken Luciano's name and character for use in his show.  When that friend, Manny (below, center) -- with his gorgeous girlfriend (below, right) in tow -- shows up at Luciano's door, a chain of events ensues that might either send Luciano into a complete tailspin or maybe goose him out of that depressed state.  In any case, some sort of face-off -- again, see below -- seems inevitable.

Mr. Hendler is one fine actor, but I don't think I've ever seen him as good as he is here -- capturing the moment-to-moment behavior of a character like this with great skill.  He's funny, unruly, annoying, sad and often helpless.  But he is always real and loads of fun to watch.  It doesn't hurt that the guy is very good-looking, too (that's him again, below). Were the Luciano and Manny roles switched around, which might indeed be closer to the world as it is, I can't vouch for how easily the other actor might capture and hold our interest.  Movie stars are movie stars for a reason.)

As co-writer (with Nicolas Gueilburt) and director, Señor Medina certainly knows his way around a camera (his cinematographer is the very fine Lucio Bonelli, who shot Liverpool and Music on Hold), as well as understanding the use of pacing, space and color.  His film is a constant pleasure to view.  He gets good work from all his actors, as well: Supporting Hendler is the beautiful and slightly elusive actress Jazmín Stuart, with Walter Jakob as the undoubtedly smart but also pompous and facile Manny and Martín Feldman as Luciano's somewhat clunky but very sweet co-worker and friend.  Medina has a nice touch, too, regarding how and when to use fantasy (see below).

One of those "small" movies that inevitably get lost in the big-city theatrical shuffle, The Paranoids deserves a lot more. See it, if you can, on the big screen when it opens January 22 in New York City at least in that one theater.  The increasingly important distributor Oscilloscope Laboratories is releasing the film here in the U.S. (which generally means that a DVD is in the works).  We owe this fine company a shout-out of thanks.

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