Movie News

Latin-AICN: Interview with Fabian Bielinsky of NINE QUEENS; The Time of the Butterflies; CTHD; Toler

Published at: Oct. 24, 2000, 1:55 a.m. CST

Father Geek here with this Tuesday's Latin-AICN column from LOBO, Ulysses, and Coffin Joe. Ulysses scored big for you this week and turned in a nice interview with film maker Fabian Bielinsky. But first I have this little bit of a review sent to me from Argentina today...

I've just seen the new Ang Lee movie. It was a private screening for executives down here, in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

I must tell you that this is one of the best martial arts movies ever made. The action scenes, choreographed by Yuen Wo Ping were astounding. Not only he uses a lot of wires indoors but he also stages the fights on open ground like a lake or treetops! They reminded me of The Bride of White Hair not only for the action but also because its story is very touching. It's a love story between the Chow-Yun Fat and Michelle Yeoh character and a story about honor and friendship. I think that Ang Lee has very succesfully blended the chinese art-house genre (like Zhang Yimou) with the HK martial arts genre.

Regards, Death

Father Geek again, well I guess its time to get on with the regular report soooo heeere's LOBO...

LOBO's report...

Locos del Cine y por el Cine, bienvenidos nuevamente a LATIN-AICN, Yo su amigo LOBO, I have for you a small amount of info., and a little bit of news this time but a great experience to tell ..(at least for me it was..so if you are not interested go straight to the QUICKIES).

This past Saturday Me and my pack (Sister Satan, Giovanni and my Dad) went to the Texas Renaissance Festival (its like walking into the world of a movie like IVANHOE, or EXCALIBUR, or ROBIN HOOD, only its not a film or a play instead its all around you) and let me tell you we all had a great time and a lot of fun, this is something I've been wanting to do for a long time and finally achieved. The Fest started on September 30th and is going to be over on November 12th, so if you would like to go I assure you that you all will enjoy the trip. The Festival takes place inside a Village (Shenandoah) specially built for the occasion and its close to the town of Plantersville,Tx. between Austin and Houston, anyways this Festival is way cool, awsome, fantastic, magic its a real adventure; the places, shows and people who "live" there really make you go back in time all the way to 1518 and you want to dress just like them and everybody else who have costumes because otherwise you start to feel like an Alien in King Arthur's castle. We all enjoyed the 8 hours in there and even with all of that time and no breaks we didn't see everything so we are going back this coming weekend and finish our tour. We got to see Merlin doing magic, we also saw the King and the Queen, scottish games, jousting, a lot of shows including the Robin hood show, barbarians, fairies, Gregory the Dragon, juggling, elves, trolls, puppeteers, pirates etc.. a wide variety of every single thing of that era. I will like to mention all of the things you can see and enjoy, but for that I am going give you this link so you can get more info and a better idea of what this Fest is all about and also to get directions on how to get there www.texrenfest.com . But I really recommend for you to go since it was a really good time we had there, we even got ourselves our costumes for this coming weekend and then, is when I will get the rest of my outfit the sword, belt, coin sack, cape and we will see what else, because we are going back next year and the year next to it, I will really like to live there and I think it would be cool if the Festival, instead of a month and a half, was all year long. (but first I need to practice more the dialect of the time)

QUICKIES / RAPIDINES

*** Edward James Olmos is in Mexico right now ready to be part of the film "In the Time of the Butterflies" with Salma Hayek where he will play the role of the Dominican dictator Trujillo, he also mentioned his plan of opening the chain of movie theaters showing Spanish movies.

*** The movie "Por la Libre" (Dust to Dust) directed by Juan Carlos de Llaca is already in over 400 theatres in Mexico and so far ..so good for these first four days.

*** Well cinelocos the movie "Amores Perros" (Love is a Bitch) did it again, this time the film won the award for Best direction and the public's prize at the Bogotá film festival....

hey LOBO here again , this folks is something I got from our cuate AngryBoricua in addition to what Ulysses mentioned in his report last week..

Hi, Lobo:

Long time reader of this site and first tiem writer. I read Ulysses' remarks on the Argentinian film "Nueve Reinas" (Nine Queens) on the last week report and could not agree more. I was just in Buenos Aires doing a job and had the pleasure of seeing this film. Man, we have to get the word out about this film. North American audiences should all be able to enjoy this cinematic treat.

The biggest success of the movie is that it shatters the veneer of order to the urban landscape. I came out of the movie clutching my bag a little tighter to my body and looking over my shoulder (especially for motor bikes). It's almost as if Scorcese, Tarantino and Mamet threw their stuff into a magic cauldron and there you have it. Again, as in all con movies, it's hard to write about them without giving the movie away, so I won't tread that dangerous ground. Suffice it to say that the movie has everything: characters incredibly real, fantastic dialogue (my favorite line was about how everybody can be bought: "You see...we do not have a shortage of whores...we have a shortage of financial backers for those whores.") and enough twists to keep everyone guessing. Not one single payoff in this movie dissapoints.

I was also fortunate to see another Argentine movie called "Felicidades" (Season's Greetings). This was also a very good and touching movie. It's in the vein of say "Short Cuts" and "Magnolia". It follows all these different characters on Christmas Eve in Argentina. The movie is funny and touching at the same time. Even though I'm sure I missed a lot of the jokes because I am not from Argentina, I still managed to enjoy the film immensely.

I hope this is of some use to you. Anyway, just wanted to second Ulysses' opinnion because we need to get "Nine Queens" out to the states.

All the best to you

Yours truly:

AngryBoricua

Later Cinemaniacos and see you all next time..

LOBO out

Ulysses' report from ARGENTINA...

Hey gang…Ulysses reporting

I gave an ecstatic review of "NINE QUEENS" here last Tuesday. As time goes by, I am loving it even more. I think it’s a masterpiece, a rare gem. It’s so entertaining, original and fascinating that you feel dazed after you see it. This week the Mexican film "AMORES PERROS", was released in Argentina to glowing reviews. I think that these two works of art form a rare pair that is defying all the preconceptions that exist towards Latin American cinema. They are both new, fresh and complex films and they have great cross-over appeal. There is a cinematic revolution taking place and these two are the first manifestations.

I was so taken by "NINE QUEENS" that I decided I HAD to have an interview with Fabian Bielinsky, the director of the film. I spoke with him on the phone and he told me there was no problem. So this Saturday I called him back and we had this talk that I have transcribed below. Have in mind that I had to translate the interview, so some things he said are slightly altered. But all in all, I mantained the essence of his words.

He is a really good and humble guy and I am very happy for him. Success couldn’t happen to a nicer fellow.

Without further introduction, here is the interview.

ULYSSES’S INTERVIEW WITH FABIAN BIELINSKY

I would like to start with the script. Did you have it shelved for a long time or did you write it especially for the contest?

No. I had it written before the contest. During one year and a half since I finished writing it until it was chosen, I tried to shoot it, but my attempts were quite unsuccessful. I took it to some producers and stuff, but for one reason or another, nobody decided to finance it.

I am also very interested in the creative process. Did you start writing the script from the concept of the last scene or right from the beginning, when the two main characters meet?

I had written a large chunk when I realized how it all came together.

So, in your case, it was also some type of revelation?

In a way, yes, it was some type of revelation regarding the story. It was very curious, because the plot was going forward and I felt there was something that even I couldn’t understand. And suddenly, it hit me. I wasn’t trying to find it, I just sort of realized how it should advance.

The Rita Pavone song that is recurrently used in the film for comedic effect has some type of connection with your own childhood?

Yes, it does. But not the song that is used in the film. It was another one, but they had already used it for another film so…well, we had to use this one. But yes, Rita Pavone has a lot to do with my childhood and I decided to put it in the film just to connect something personal with the plot.

There is another thing that really interests me. The tricks that these two swindlers pull off during the film, are they authentic or are they a product of your imagination?

No, they all exist. Coincidentally, I stumbled upon a reader’s letter in La Nacion, in which a guy said that his aunt, mother or someone of the sort had been a victim of one of these tricks and he was like, in a way, accusing the film of divulging these things and of teaching new stuff to thugs. Personally, I think it’s a big mistake. If I put them in the film it was because they existed, not the other way round. Street swindlers don’t do this because they saw it in Nine Queens. On the contrary, Nine Queens is the way it is because this sort of tricks exist. This lady was a victim, in the same way that thousands of ladies were before the film came out.

Yes, I believe that the film shows us this hidden reality and that before it was released, someone who fell for one of these tricks just didn’t connect it to anything. Now they have "Nine Queens" to blame.

Yes. From now on, people will be alerted when they hear that conversation on the intercom If this whole thing is at all useful, it is not to give lessons to swindlers, but to warn people of this type of tricks.

Why didn’t you take the film to an international film festival of prestige, like Toronto or Venice?

Well, we couldn’t, because we finished the film a few days before its release. And by that time, the registration dates for these festivals were way passed. There wasn’t time, really. Now we are thinking about sending it to another festival.

Well, you’ve got Berlin in February.

Exactly. But we are also eyeing the possibility of taking it to some smaller film festivals that take place before that one.

Now, I would like to ask you something more personal. ¿ When did your love for film awaken in you?

In primary school or even before. When I was a kid I shot things in Super-8 and stuff like that. I read anything I got hold of about movies and during the summer, I would watch two films a day. Since I recall, I have always loved this art form.

I am going to ask you this question because it interests me personally. I am seventeen years old and I am facing the challenge of deciding what I am going to do in the future. I would really like to study something related with filmmaking, but it is a tough decision.

Yes, it’s a broad move. But it is also true that it’s worthwhile to take some risks and do whatever you feel you are born to do. There is always time to change your mind. I think it is better to regret the decisions you made, than to regret the decisions you didn’t make.

For some it is "Star Wars", some people of my generation will say it’s "Pulp Fiction". ¿Which was that film that stands out in your memory?

I was a teenager during the 70s and all those films that came out during that time had a profound influence on me. In those years, I was totally into film and I was starting to see things which I thought were fascinating and new. It was a time in which great films such as "The Conversation" , "The Godfather" and "Taxi Driver" came out. Those were the films that marked me. Not to mention "Deliverance", though it is not so well known as those other three I mentioned.

To be honest, I haven’t seen "Deliverance".

It is directed by John Boorman and it stars John Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox. It’s a magnificent film and if you haven’t seen it, I strongly recommend you try to get hold of it.

I’m running to the videostore right after we finish the interview.

(laughs) Yes. The problem is that it won’t be such an easy task. It’s difficult to get a copy of it here in Argentina. But try to seek it out, because it’s something serious.

Did you use some particular director’s work or some specific movie to achieve the feel and the aesthetic of your film?

No. My source of inspiration, whether conscious or unconscious (usually the latter) was eclectic, rather than one special film.

But the look of the film was a formal decision. Once I finished the script, I tried to understand which was the aesthetic that would best fit the film, the way it should be filmed, the type of lighting.

Of course, the look is probably quite similar to some films I really like but, as I said before, I didn’t use one work in particular.

I must say that your film looks fantastic. The cinematography is great. I don’t think I have ever seen such an achievement in this area in the history of Argentine cinema.

Well, thanks.We discussed the lighting extensively with the cinematographer and we had the concept that the formal elements should disappear. We wanted to give the sensation that it was shot without artificial light. In some cases, this could be done and in some other occasions, the hand of the DP made it look this way, though it certainly wasn’t.

The ending changes the film completely, but it doesn’t betray the essence of each character. The audience doesn’t feel manipulated.

No, I guess it doesn’t. But there are some people who feel slightly disappointed with the ending. The doubt I had about it was the tone, not the information which is given. I would have probably gone with a darker, less festive scene, which was my initial idea. In that sense, I probably agree with some things that certain people have been telling me, which coincide with my previous concept that a more obscure ending could have worked better.

It’s very common among directors who achieve such success as yours that when the time comes to start working on something else, they undergo what I call the NPC (Next Project Crisis). How are you dealing with this?

(laughs) Well, I’m trying to handle it the best way I can. I am sure that my next film won’t have this kind of reception. The fact that it happened the first time will be the reason, I think, that it won’t happen the second. I was helped by a rare element, which is surprise. Nobody expected absolutely anything from me and that changed the way the film was received. Now, I know that I have lost that completely and that there is very special anticipation from some critics and some members of the audience. And I am trying to lay that off. I want to do another film that really interests me and motivates me. If it coincides again with everybody’s taste, great. And if it doesn’t, I’ll move on. There is no other way to face it. I don’t want to respond to any type of expectation regarding subject matter or form.

Did you start working on something?

No, I didn’t. But I will very soon.

Well, I wish you good luck with your next project and thanks for your time.

Well, this is the first interview of my life. Upon calling Mr. Bielinsky I was quite nervous, but as soon as we started talking it all dissipated. He is a very amenable person. I hope you liked this piece, though some questions will probably be understood only by those who have seen the film. Hopefully, many of you will in the future.

And remember…if you have any scoop or opinion regarding Argentine cinema please send it over to Ulysses

From the southern pampas…Ulysses out

Coffin Joe's report from BRASIL...

Hey there , Coffin Joe is back once more , it´s time for your weekly fix of Brazilian movie news from your spooky friend . Dig in :

-The São Paulo film festival is happening as I´m typing this ( I´m missing stuff already , damn it ! ) , and I have to be honest this year´s selection is a bit , well , weird . You got movies like Shaft (!?) and High Fidelity , but you also have a local Brazilian flick shot on digital video about a bunch of teens , called " De cara limpa " , and you then have Tsui Hark´s " Time and Tide " on one screen and the latest from Woody Allen on the other . I mean , I like diversity , but this is just creepy , specially if you consider the kind of audience attends most of the festival´s screenings : arty type dude or dudette , late twenties , hip clothes , hip attitude , hip walk , hip talk , hip , hip , hip . These are cool people , with the Soderbergh glasses look going on , you know the deal . Anyways , I remember a while back , two years ago to be more precise , when Cube and Pi both were screened here and the looks these morons had on their faces was hilarious . Sci-fi flicks? How dare the organization of this festival ? That same year , if I´m not mistaken Takeshi Kitano´s Hana-Bi (Fireworks) won the grand prize for best picture too . Quite a strange year . Not as strange as this year´s festival , but pretty close .

-One of the Brazilian movies that is set to be screened here in São Paulo during the festival is " Tolerância " (*Tolerance) a erotic-thriller that explores in an unusual , and sometimes pretty graphic , manner the issues of sex , marriage and the strange behavior caused by the relationships between men and women . The film was directed by Carlos Gerbase , a guy who has been working mostly on TV lately , and whose first film 1984´s " Verdes Anos " won the Gramado film fest award for best newcomer . It stars Maitê Proença , Roberto Bomtempo , Maria Ribeiro and Nelson Diniz . Basically what this movie is a steamier , and a bit more disturbing , Brazilian version of " American Beauty " . It features some of the same traits ( husband falling for the daughter´s cute friend , wife cheating on the husband) , but there´s a neat twist , because their marriage is apparently an open marriage , until the wife breaks the news to her husband about her affair with one of his buddies , so h! e decides to go and have a bit of fun himself with the daughter´s friend , both affairs testing their tolerance ( get it ? Tolerance ? Aren´t they clever ?) and their open marriage .

Check out the film´s site at : www.tolerancia.com.br

-Among the São Paulo film festival´s 205 feature films , besides the short flicks , 12 are from Brazil . Some of them are having their premiere here , with their releases set , while others are just trying to get distribution .

The films are : " Tolerância " , " De Cara Limpa " , " Nasci Mulher Negra "(a documentary about local politician Benedita da Silva) , " O Sonho de Rose - 10 Anos Depois "(another documentary , this one about the people who participated in the 1985 movie Terra para Rose) , " Minha Vida em suas Mãos " (a cop drama directed by José Antônio Garcia and starring veteran actress Maria Zilda Bethlem) , " Senta a Pua " (a documentary dealing with the first Brazilian jet fighter force - and a project I talked about on one of my earlier columns) , " Bicho de Sete Cabeças " (the debut film for director Laís Bodanzky , a movie about the violence in institutions that take care of mentally-challenged here in Brazil and which was edited by Jacopo Quadri , the editor who works with Benardo Bertolucci on his movies , including bertolucci´s last film , " Besieged " , " Soluços e Soluções " ( which talks about the drought in the Northeastern region of Brazil) , "2000 Nordestes" (a documentary on the people who live on the Northeastern part of Brazil at the turn of the century) , " Tainá - Uma Aventura na Amazônia " (an ecological flick for kids) , " Deus Jr. " (another cop drama , this one starring Jairo Matos) and finally " Brava Gente Brasileira " ( a portrait of Brazil in the 18th century) .

That´s it , I´m done here creepy fiends . I´ll be coming back in a short while with my review of " Oh brother , where art thou " by those wacky Coen bros , a movie I´ll watch tonight and hopefully I´ll send my review as quick as possible , alright ? Cool .

Coffin Joe says : bye .

P.S. : Get your hands on the DVD of Alejandro Jodorowski`s " Fando & Lis " by the good people over at Fantomas , which has a commentary track by the MAN himself and some nice artwork . See ya soon .

Readers Talkback

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  • Oct. 24, 2000, 12:21 p.m. CST

    Way to go Ulysses...

    by indio2

    Good work getting that interview with the film maker, that's why I read this column every Tuesday, to find information that isn't anywhere else on the web... Stuff of special interest to we Latinos that are away from home, and LOBO glad you liked the Faire, since I'm a grad student at Rice in Houston I go every year. I love it, thanks for sharing your joy. Didn't I read somewhere that Harry and Fathergeek used to work there for several years when Harry was a wee lad?