Thursday, April 30, 2009

"Rudo Y Cursi": Good fun, but wither the footie?


Though, because like Emily Gilmore I simply "don't find forensic work quite as fascinating as the rest of the world" I've never seen any of the 15 or so versions of "CSI," I can only heartily second this sentiment from Viacom and CBS boss Sumner Redstone about Jay Leno: " 'CSI' will beat the hell out of him." Here's hoping he actually loses every single night, especially if he messes with the future of "Chuck"!

And before I get on to the main event today, there's two bits of news out there today, one insanely good and the other rather predictable but still just extremely sad.

Starting with the great, Adult Swim, which I thought only showed cartoons (silly me!) has now apparently acquired the rights to the two seasons and the Christmas special of the original U.K. "The Office." I know that only adds up to about 13 episodes or so total, but since I don't have them on DVD, to that I can only say huzzah!

But on the downside, even though I knew this was coming, seeing it as a definite happening is just thoroughly depressing. The French thriller "Tell No One" was not only easily one of the best movies (Top five on my list) I saw in all of 2009, but also an extremely accessible and mainstream entertaining flick. All it requires is that people do a little bit of READING as they watch the action, but I guess that's too much to ask.

Europa Corp. and Kathleen Kennedy have indeed just announced firm plans to do an English-language remake of the flick based on the equally sensational Harlan Coben novel, with a tentative start date of Spring 2010. Oh well. Since I suppose there's nothing I can really do to stop this, I simply urge everyone to rent the original flick, which is indeed out on DVD now.

But now on to what I was supposed to talk about, Carlos Cuaron's mostly satisfying "Rudo Y Cursi," which I had the pleasure of seeing as the closing night film of the Atlanta Film Festival 365. Before you can really get into that, however, this one really just calls out for a word about its pedigree.

Remember those Mexican directors who in 2006 (was it really that long ago?) earned the rather unfortunate nickname of the "three amigos"? Well, since then, it seems like there's been nothing much but silence from Alfonso Cuaron, Ajejandro Inarritu and Guillermo del Toro.

Alfonso Cuaron's next flick is likely to be "A Boy and His Shoe," which will be about a group of young people (Charlotte Gainsbourg among them, huzzah!) who are on a road trip through England and Scotland. It's set for release sometime in 2010. We're likely to hear from Inarritu before then, since he's wrapping up something called "Biutiful," which stars Javier Bardem as a man who's involved in shady dealings of some kind when he runs into a childhood friend who's now a cop. That one's set for a December release this year.

And we all know that Mr. del Toro is working on a little flick called "The Hobbit." Luckily, in the meantime the three good pals also formed a production company, Cha Cha Cha, and perhaps at least partly through the power of nepotism, Cuaron hermano Carlos gets the first release with this flick.

So, finally, what's it about? Well, anyone who's seen "Y Tu Mama Tambien" will be thrilled to know that it's the first big-screen reunion of Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal, and that they've only developed further the natural rapport they enjoyed in that flick from Alfonso.

Here, they play brothers who toil on a banana farm until they are discovered by a soccer talent scout who needs a new player. And there's the rub: At first, at least, he only needs one.

Like "Y Tu Mama Tambien," "Rudo Y Cursi" mines most of its humor and all its humanity from the struggles of regular Mexicans with daily life. And as the titular brothers Beto and Tato (Rudo and Cursi are their nicknames, but I'll get into more about that later), Luna and Bernal bicker in the refreshingly and naturally foul way that only brothers can. It's snappy dialogue that will feel familiar and at the same time open a window to Mexican life that few of us ever get to see.

OK, that's the good stuff, of which there is quite a bit. So, what's the problem? Well, as a rather big soccer fan (I'm headed to Chicago in June to watch U.S.A-Honduras and, assuming they get that pesky pig flu under control, possibly to Mexico City in August to watch U.S.A.-Mexico), I was excited to see this one because even the director himself, in introducing the flick, described it as a "soccer movie." Unfortunately, that just falls way short of the truth.

Though our heroes do indeed play professional soccer in Mexico (for fictional teams, oddly enough), there's almost zero action on the pitch in "Rudo Y Cursi." In fact, all there really is in that department is a pair of penalty kicks that frame the story. So, if you don't like soccer, is that a problem? Yes, because instead of using sport to add any urgency to his tale, Carlos Cuaron (who also co-wrote the screenplay for "Y Tu Mama Tambien" with Alfonso) manufactures drama in the form of a gambling problem for one of the brothers and a nasty turn by the agent that just doesn't fit at all. Worst of all, because there's no real soccer angle to the story, we never really find out just how the two brothers earned their colorful nicknames.

However, though that's more than a minor quibble, the humor that Carlos Cuaron mines in everyday Mexican life and brotherhood is indeed enough to make his debut feature film very enjoyable, and I guarantee that you will just laugh right out loud when you see Bernal, who apparently just has no shame, sing Cheap Trick.

And with that I have to get ready for what is still my paying job, but I'll leave you with the trailer for what I think will be one of the surprise very big hits this summer, Nora Ephron's "Julie & Julia," which stars adorable Amy Adams (with a seriously unfortunate hair cut) and Meryl Streep as the master chef. Enjoy, and have a perfectly pleasant Thursday. Peace out.

14 comments:

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Julie and Julia looks fantastic. I didn't think I'd ever say that, but everything I've seen about it looks so good. Now we need a Yan Can Cook biopic.

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