Thursday, December 25, 2014

Carlos Sauras' "Flamenco, Flamenco"

By Moira Sullivan
Flamenco, Flamenco 
Opening Dec 26 at Landmark Opera Plaza is a rare film by the Spanish Veteran filmmaker Carlos Saura called “FLAMENCO FLAMENCO”. At the screening  Nina Menendez, artistic director of the 10th Annual Bay Area Flamenco Festival , will introduce the films.Saura made the Flamenco Trilogy of the 1980s (Blood Wedding, Carmen,a nd  El Amor Brujo). This 1995 film is in the documentary format and filmed by cinematographer Vittorio Storaro who has worked on many films such as Last Emperor and Apocalypse Now. I was struck by the performers –musicians and dancers and the extraordinary professionalism of ensemble as filmed by Storaro.

For the uninitiated, this is an excellent introduction to the art form of flamenco.

Saura filmed at the Seville Expo ’92 Spanish pavilion commemorating the 500th anniversary of the discovery of the Americas by Christopher Columbus (1492-1992).

Paintings by artists such as Goya, and Picasso and Klimt serve as backdrops to famous flamenco dancers and musicians - singer Rocio Molina, dancer and choreographer Israel Galvan, dancer Sara Baras, singer Estrella Morente, and guitarist Paco de Lucia who together show us the evolution of flamenco. All elements of this folklore art from Andalusia include the traditional palo or cante (singing), toque (guitar playing), the proud baile (dance) and the body percussion of the palmas (handclaps).

Each dance, each song is highly stylized and the composition of the frame is superbly blended by Saura. There are several memorable performances of the dancers on a black shiny dance floor where the sound of the acoustic guitar is louder than the dance and handclaps.

The screenings at Opera Plaza with the right acoustics and screening opportunities should take you into a world that is handcrafted to deliver the ultimate experience in flamenco and a journey into another world.

© 2014- Moira Sullivan- Air Date: 12/24/14
Movie Magazine International

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Norwegian North Sea thriller 'Pioneer'

Norway stakes its oil claim in the North Sea

By Moira Sullivan

Norway prides itself on its economic independence and always boasts that it has its fish and its oil and is financially solvent for years to come. Pioneer is a Norwegian film by Erik Skjoldbjærg that looks into just how Norway got its oil and the subject is pretty fishy. The technology to build a pipeline came from the USA and in this film the clandestine operations that were behind the creation of a pipeline in the Norwegian sea are taken to task.

Set in the 80’s, Norwegian deep sea divers embark on a mission to install a gas pipe.  This involves time in  a real-life decompression chamber on an oil rig. The film centers on Petter (Aksel Hennie) and his brother Knut Andr√© Eriksen) who risk their lives to discover oil for Norway. The cinematography evokes the time period with its grainy almost yellow film stock and the film has the dramatic form of a thiller, although based on a real life story. While in the compression chamber, an accident occurs and Petter is relentless in getting to the bottom of the story.

Five Norwegians lost their lives onboard the drilling rig 'Byford Dolphin ' as the result of decompression explosion. The rig was contracted by British Petroleum. Just how this accident happened it taken to task in Pioneer. In real life the families of divers took this case to court in Norway and were awarded compensation due to faulty equipment in the operations.

There are two roles for women that come across as very B-like and stagey in comparison to the parts for men – Knut’s wife, Maria of Mexican descent is exoticized (STEPHANIE SIGMAN )  and  the wooden ANE DAHL TORP as PIA who works on the oil rig and wants to know how much Petter know about the fatal accident in decompression chamber. 

Skjoldbjaerg may have had a hit on his hand but now Sony Pictures is in negotiations to pick up the remake rights for an adaptation to be produced by George Clooney and Grant Heslov.

© 2014 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 12/17/14

Movie Magazine International