Richard and CP24 anchor Jamie Gutfreund have a look at the weekend’s new movies including “Patti Cake$,” the New York City drama “The Only Living Boy in New York,” the civil war shoot ’em up “Bushwick” and Penelope Cruz in “The Queen of Spain.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Erin Paul to have a look at the big weekend movies including “Patti Cake$,” the New York City drama “The Only Living Boy in New York,” the civil war shoot ’em up “Bushwick” and Penelope Cruz in “The Queen of Spain.”
“I knew her very well,” says Penelope Cruz, “but in a way she was not exactly the same person because so many things happened to her and she changed over time, like we all do.”
Cruz isn’t talking about an old friend or a long lost relative. The Spanish superstar is referring to Macarena Granada, a character she first played a decade ago and revisits in the new film The Queen of Spain.
“She has a very intense life,” continues Cruz, “so that was the tricky thing. For the people who knew Macarena, how do I make her recognizable and what are the changes we can see in her after all these years?”
Audiences first met Macarena in 1998 when Cruz played her as an upcoming Spanish movie star in a frothy little confection called The Girl of Your Dreams. It’s years later in real and reel life as Cruz brings the character back to the screen.
Set in 1956, The Queen of Spain portrays Macarena as a huge international star lured back to her home country to star in the first American movie to be shot there since the Franco took power. It’s a wild production but complicating matters is the appearance—and subsequent disappearance—of Macarena’s former director and the man who made her a star.
“The first film was set at a time of interaction with Germany and Macarena had to protect herself from Goebbels,” says Cruz. “This time she is up against Franco. In a way every time she is acting in a film she is just not acting, she is some kind of political heroine. She is fighting for justice. What a life this woman has had! Every time she goes into making a movie she has to save somebody’s life or do something life changing for everybody. If we ever do the third one I don’t know who she’ll have to deal with. Depends on what country. Hopefully the third one will happen someday. Let’s see who she has to encounter this time.”
The Queen of Spain marks the third time Cruz has worked with Fernando Trueba, the Spanish auteur who directed her break out film Belle Époque.
“The knowledge he has of cinema, the passion he has for cinema is very contagious,” she says. “With Fernando it is always more than just entertainment. He is such a great filmmaker and he always talks about so many big subjects at the same time.
“I think Belle Époque is a masterpiece. The film was amazing and for me to start with somebody as brilliant as Fernando, well, it was a year that made it impossible for me not to fall in love with movies.”
The chance to show what goes on behind the scenes in The Queen of Spain’s film-within-the-film was another reason she decided to come back to Trueba and Macarena.
“There are not enough movies about that,” she says. “When I am on the set everything is so crazy and chaotic but at the same time it works. I feel like we need that chaos for it to work. It is magical that things happen and movies get done and get finished. I’m always on the set thinking, ‘These three days of shooting is enough material for three more movies.’”
Almost ten years ago Penélope Cruz originated the role of upcoming Spanish movie star Macarena Granada in a frothy little confection called “The Girl of Your Dreams.” It’s years later in real and reel life as Granada and Cruz return to the screen.
Set in 1956, “The Queen of Spain” begins just as the official Franco international blockade comes to an end. Granada is now a huge international star lured back to her home country to star in the first American movie to be shot there since the dictator took power, but there are specific rules.
“I wrote this script about Columbus,” says writer Jordan Berman (Mandy Patinkin).
“Mr. Franco decided he could help us if we made something about Queen Isabella so I had to rewrite it. It took me three days and six bottles of whiskey. We worked under the watchful eyes of Franco’s people.”
Producer Sam Spiegelman (Arturo Ripstein) brings on an eclectic crew to bring the story of the “Catholic Queen” to life on the big screen. Berman is a blacklisted writer prevented from working in the States because of his communist leanings. Leading man Gary Jones (Cary Elwes) is gay, spending his off hours hitting on his male co-star. Also along for the ride is director John Scott (Clive Revill) legendary for his filmmaking and love of the hootch.
Complicating matters is Blas Fontiveros (Antonio Resines), Granada’s former director and the man who made her a star. Presumed after the events of the first film—he helped a Jewish extra escape the Nazis and was incarcerated and then disappeared—he returns, taking a job as the new film’s second unit director. No sooner has he begun work than he is arrested—turned in by his vindictive ex-wife—and forced to do hard labour. To save Granada concocts a rescue plan to shuttle her mentor (and former lover) to safety in France.
“The Queen of Spain” plays like an overstuffed piquillo pepper. Given the ingredients it should be delicious but instead it is too much; sloppy and unsatisfying. Between the screwball comedy, historical perspective, lacklustre musical number in the film-within-the-film and story of intrigue, what should have been a breezy farce is a bit of a slog. A beautiful looking one—director Fernando Trueba pays fitting tribute to the films of the era—but a slog nonetheless.