A Halloween without terror with ‘Amsterdam’ and Álex de la Iglesia

These are strange times when on Halloween we wear short-sleeved costumes and dictatorships shoot with beadles in congress palaces (it reminded me of China in the scene of ‘The Untouchables of Elliot Ness’ (1987) when Al Capone executes one of his lieutenants with a baseball bat in front of everyone). That’s why it’s a good thing that this Friday we have a couple of unique and rare directors who premiere a movie.

The first is David O. Russell. Upon debuting in ‘The Bright Side of Things’ (2012) it seemed that he was going to be the new master of Hollywood (he also went through that with frozen yogurt). It had been seven years since he had released a work and he does so with ‘Amsterdam’, where he has managed to bring together a great cast with Christian Bale, Margot Robbie and Robert DeNiro. Although based on an incredible true case, he does not stick too closely to what happened. Three inseparable friends, third-rate swindlers, are accused of a murder in the thirties.

It is not a Bonnie and Clyde in the form of a trio, nor a revisited film noir as we saw in ‘The Alley of Lost Souls’ (2021). There are touches of dramatic humor in this story of robberies and thugs. Its director honors that unclassifiable genre in which his feature films move, on the border between comedy and tragedy. In these years of absence, he has forgotten his previous successes and has exchanged them for others, but making the same mistakes. The film has that bitter optimism so typical of it, somewhere between Confucian resignation and the disbelieving American dream.

The second of those directors with denomination of origin is the likeable Álex de la Iglesia. It brings a romantic road movie where a stupendous Alberto San Juan plays the occasional driver of a car between Bilbao and Madrid, addicted, despite his thirty-ten years, to an attractive and bland Blanca Suarez. We can see that in ‘The fourth passenger’.

You will tell me that two are missing. The first is the one that makes a big mess, Héctor Alterio playing an apparently harmless co-pilot, and the other a handsome guy who wants to pick up the girl from the protagonist. With these elements, the thing begins as a placid trip with the rhythm of ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ (1989) and ends in a chaos like ‘Airbag’ (1997) for forty-somethings. They say, I haven’t seen it yet, that it’s Álex’s best film in a long time. The script is from the director himself, as almost always.

Can a romantic comedy to use be transgressive? Well, it turns out that it is, if it is starred by two men (yes, it is still transgressive to see two men in love in a cinema). Both border on the new thirty that are forty, and they are totally antagonistic. One more intellectual, the other with a gym body; one resigned to solitude and the other to consecutive one-night stands. Two Peter Pans allergic to commitment successfully crossing their lives.

There are a lot of gay jokes, which in this moment of Taliban political correctness is exhilarating to find on film, and the writer is an expert in comedy (and apparently in non-heterosexual relationships). That, together with the fact that the producer is the innovator of the genre in America, Judd Apatow, guarantees intelligent and sometimes not very subtle humor. Self-referential but at the same time universal. By the way, my dear New York is the third lead and it looks great. His unwanted daring makes him deserve to succeed.

‘Eden’ is a drama in paradise. A strange place, aseptic, elegant and ideal, where people go to die voluntarily in a kind of suicide of the Gourmet Club, very different from the deaths in a Japanese restaurant tape of ‘When Fate Catches Us’ (1973) . Papelón by veteran Ramón Barea, with our Marta Nieto embroidering her role in this debut feature, which is closer to dystopia than to reflection on euthanasia.

To end the premieres, I’m talking about a revival, ‘Joker’, a film that climbed onto the awards podium in 2019 and was one of the critics’ favorites. Both things were excessive for me then, as now it seems to me that this return to the big screen of the story of this psychopathic clown is superfluous. It will be because he never manages to make me feel sorry or scared.

Out of camera

Netflix continues telecinqueando. Due to the drop in quality of their content and their increasingly numerous reality shows, they will now put up ads to combat the drop in subscribers. The bourgeoisie of Netflix and Ryanair trembles, as my favorite correspondent, Pablo Suanzes, would say,

May you have a week, and a bridge of All Saints, of cinema.

A Halloween without terror with ‘Amsterdam’ and Álex de la Iglesia