Remezcla readers love to take in culture, but don’t always have the cash for tickets. That’s where we come in. A Theater Near You is Remezcla’s guide to awesome Latin movies for the lazy and broke; you can watch these all at home (because sabemos que son flojos).
Do you ever wonder who the Tom Cruise of Spain, the Brad Pitt of Brazil or the Lindsay Lohan of Mexico are? Well, that last one is easy, Carmen Campuzano, cuz they are both krazy cokeheads. But back to the point, there are people who are huge stars in other countries that we rarely hear about. Some crossover celebrities–Penélope Cruz, Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Javier Bardem–were able to take a successful career at home and turn it into notoriety in the States. Meanwhile, actors like Ricardo Darín and Selton Mello are wildly popular in their home countries but remain virtually unknown in gringolandia.
While writing the last Theater Near You on the Argentinian boy-on-boy heist movie, Plata Quemada, I was reminded of Eduardo Noriega’s tremendous acting abilities. He was the Spanish it boy of the late nineties and early millenium. But lately, he’s been in the “where are they now” category. Having made some films in English, it seems as if he’s attempting a crossover. Last year Noriega was in a straight-to-iTunes western about Butch Cassidy living in Bolivia. And now he is slated to be part of Last Stand, the Kim Ji-woon directed action movie that will be Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return to muscle-flexing (thinly veiled as acting.) But, let’s forget about Noriega’s descent into crappy American movies and remember his better days. This week’s Theater Near You is a tribute to Eduardo Noriega and his best performances.
Director: Alejandro Amenábar
Country: Spain | 1996 | 125 min
Tesis was Alejandro Amenábar’s first film as a director and Eduardo Noriega’s first starring role. The dark psychological thriller was a hit with audiences and critics and launched their careers, winning awards and acclaim for both. Amenábar later confessed that at first that he didn’t want Eduardo to be in the film, fearing that he was just a pretty face. I ain’t gonna lie, he’s real pretty, but he can act too. Even when he’s the bad guy, like in Tesis, you fall for his charm and good looks. He gets the audience and Ángela, a film student writing her thesis on violence, to trust him. But, as she gets closer and closer to figuring out who is running a snuff film ring at school and her professor turns up dead, she starts to doubt him. It’s thrilling, it’s frightening, and it’s one of Noriega’s best films.
Where You Can Watch It Now: This one is a bit hard to find online but you might be able to find it on an unnamed video-hosting service for free. I don’t condone unlawful behavior, but let me google that for you. You can also get the DVD from Netflix, Amazon, or wherever you usually get your snuff films from.
Abre los Ojos (Open Your Eyes)
Director: Alejandro Amenábar
Country: Spain | 1997 | 117 min
Even if you’ve never heard of Abre los Ojos, you’ve probably seen the mediocre American remake, Vanilla Sky, starring Tom Cruise, Penélope Cruz, and (the semi-Latina) Cameron Diaz. The Spanish original is so much better. César (Eduardo Noriega), is a rich, handsome playboy (what a stretch!) who romances multiple ladies, including his best friend’s girlfriend (Penélope Cruz). His double-crossing ways come back to bite him in the ass, when a jealous, scorned lover takes him for a ride (literally) and purposely crashes her car with both of them in it. The rest of the film is a magical dreamscape of puzzling scenarios. Every other scene you are left wondering what’s actually real. Did he survive the crash? Was it a nightmare, a figment of his imagination, or just a tragic accident? Did his night of love with Penélope Cruz actually happen? And why is she always she dressed as a mime? This noir sci-fi thriller will confuse you, take twists and turns, and leave you completely entranced.
El Espinazo del Diablo (The Devil’s Backbone)
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Country: Mexico, Spain | 2001 | 106 min
Set during the Spanish civil war, at an orphanage secretly filled with the children of revolutionaries, El Espinazo del Diablo is a historical supernatural thriller directed by Guillermo del Toro. A young boy named Carlos gets dropped off and meets his new family: Cásares, an older doctor who recites poetry, Carmen (Marisa Paredes), the one-legged headmistress, and the menacing Jacinto (Eduardo Noriega) who grew up in the orphanage and now works there as a janitor. In the first few days, Carlos is bullied by the other kids and gets into a fight, typical kid’s stuff. But, as the days pass things start to get weirder and much scarier. Shadows appear behind corners, water carafes tip over on their own, and Carlos begins to believe the orphanage is haunted. Part ghost story and part lyrical meditation, El Espinazo del Diablo is a melancholy and unsettling look at memory, childhood, and war.