Friday, December 23, 2011

SCN: Enrique Otero's CREBINSKY combines silent-film clowning with cows, icons & war

Galicia, one of Spain's most beautiful areas, adds the scenery, notable actors Sergio Zearreta and Miguel De Lira offer the clowning, Patricia de Lorenzo (as a character called Loli Marlén) does a nifty, low-end and brunette version of Marlene Dietrich, while nasty Germans and asinine Americans frolic around the outskirts, and a cow -- the real and enduring love interest in the movie -- disappears. All of this (taking place during WWII, 'natch) is whipped into fairly acceptable shape by filmmaker Enrique Otero, who co-wrote the film with his co-star De Lira.

CREBINSKY, the name of the film and (I think) of the family that inhabits it (which is currently down to two brothers, mom and dad having been eliminated via tree), is a vehicle for, most particularly, whimsy -- a state of being that many movies aspire to put their audiences into but few effectively manage. Señor Otero, shown at left, comes close enough periodically for his film to qualify as a contender, though at times it seems like whimsy run rampant, complete with tinkly, silent-film music to cue us into obeisance. This is especially true when the Germans or Americans come into play, with the latter's commanding officer played by that great Spanish actor Luis Tosar (below), here sporting a not-so-hot American accent that probably wowed Spaniards but will leave most Americans scratching their head.

The treatment of WWII as pictured in Crebinsky may not be as lowly as, say, Hogan's Heroes, but it comes off as just this side of silly, nonetheless. But because the film is set in WWII Spain, a country that went Fascist but managed to keep itself, supposedly, above the fray, the picture is not as much black-and-white as it is all shades of gray, many of them pretty dark.

The plot, such as it is, manages to give us the history of these two brothers and their late family, while showing us what's happening right now -- which is the loss and then the finding of their precious cow, with side trips for the traveling musicale performed by Loli Marlén and her manager, and the search by the Germans for one of their lost flyers and the Americans, personified by submarine Captain played by Tosar.

Too heavy-handed by half, the film still manages to entertain and occasionally surprise, thanks for the performances of its two leads, De Lira (above, right) and Zearreta (above, left), that very special cow (below), Tosar, the actors playing Germans, and all the rest. I should imagine that filming this movie was lots of fun. And about half of that fun is passed along to the audience. Whether it will be enough will be up to each individual member.

The FSLC's Spanish Cinema Now ended its 14-day run at the Walter Reade Theater yesterday. I'll cover the remaining movies and program of short films in the days to come.

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