Tag Archives: Penélope Cruz

Shut Up and Drive


by Hope Madden

My first worry as I watched Michael Mann’s long-awaited return to the screen, Ferrari, was triggered by a line delivered by Enzo Ferrari’s (Adam Driver) mother (Daniela Piperno). In recalling the death of her eldest child, she muses, “The wrong son died.”

There is, of course, no more clichéd way to begin a biopic. Just ask Walk Hard. But Mann, working from a 30-year-old by script the late Troy Kennedy Martina and Brock Yates, veers from formula immediately after that bit of dialog. His approach does not always work, but buoyed by a few remarkable performances, he recreates a compelling piece of history.

Though Driver’s accent is sometimes questionable, he sidesteps cliché in every scene. His Enzo Ferrari is a singular man, driven and emotionally careful but quietly compassionate and endlessly human. The performance is soulful and delightfully humorous, and he makes even the script’s most convenient or obligatory dialog feel authentic.

He’s got nothing on Penélope Cruz, though, who’s a solid contender for an Oscar nomination in the role of Enzo’s wife and business partner, Laura. Moody, funny, but more than anything, worn thin by years of grief and anger, Laura is a character unlike any other in this film or most any other. Cruz dials the drama back just when you’d expect an eruption, erupts at surprising moments, and refuses to make Laura Ferrari a cartoon or a villain.

With these performances at the center of the film and the specter of death in both the rear view and the headlights, Ferrari delivers an emotionally charged adventure. The real possibility of disaster – within the family, within the business, and on the racetrack – is a current running through every scene.

Mann captures the thrill and dread inside that danger with a restless camera and visceral racing action. Thanks to commitment to the human drama, the action never feels glossy or superficial – thrill for thrill’s sake. Mann’s latest embraces the compromise and corrosion that accompany success. It feels less stylish than a Michael Mann film, but more human.

They Don’t Like Me, They Really Don’t Like Me

Official Competition

by George Wolf

Who’s more full of it: The cinema snob who dismisses whatever’s popular, or the escapist fan wary of any whiff of highbrow? Awards shows, or those who protest them too much? Film festival agenda twisters, or film festival attention whores?

Official Competition is here to nominate them all. Co-directors Mariano Cohn and Gastón Duprat (both also co-write with Andrés Duprat) come armed with plenty of knives, and their mischievous and wonderfully witty satire has them out for pretty much everyone involved in movie making.

When an 80 year-old millionaire (José Luis Gómez) decides his legacy should involve producing the film version of a Nobel prize-winning novel, critic’s darling Lola Cuevas (Penélope Cruz) gets the call to direct. But Lola insists on adapting “La Rivalidad” with a unique vision, one that starts with casting polar opposites in the lead roles.

Félix Rivero (Antonio Banderas) is the worldwide box office star, while Iván Torres (Oscar Martinez) is the legendary thespian. They will play warring brothers, while their own philosophical clashes grow more volatile – and more dryly hilarious – by the day.

And don’t bother looking to Lola for cool-headed problem-solving. She’d rather provoke the tension with a variety of creative exercises – such as wrapping her two stars in restraints and threatening to destroy their most prized awards right in front of their panic-stricken faces.

Subtle it ain’t, but funny it is.

And even when a joke or two lingers a beat past its expiration, this sublime trio of actors makes nearly every frenzied interaction a joy to behold.

Is Lola a motivational genius or a complete fraud? Does Félix have the chops to go toe-to-toe with the prestigious Iván? And does Iván secretly admire Félix’s success? Cruz, Banderas and Martinez are clearly having as much fun acting it out as we are trying to sort it out.

And like much of the best satire, Official Competition is talking about one thing, but saying something else. Its barbs aimed at the movie business may be silly, acerbic and insightful, but none can hide the respect this film has for the entirely mad nature of the creative process.

Call it a love letter, with a completely entertaining ‘smidge of hate.