Saura is sort of like the Busby Berkeley of flamenco and other traditional Iberian
musical forms, except he stages musical numbers with Spartan elegance. There
will be no talking whatsoever, just singing, dancing, and playing in his latest
intimate musical performance film. Saura follows up his 1995 art house hit Flamenco with the aptly titled Flamenco, Flamenco (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in New York.
will not even cheapen his visually gorgeous film with a lot of inter-titles
identifying the many accomplished musicians making up his all-star flamenco
ensembles. In a way, that is unfortunate for them, because their performances would
make converts out of any non-fan who just happened to wander into Flamenco-squared. Indeed, the Flamenco
choreography framed by Saura and revered cinematographer Vittorio Storaro is
particularly cinematic, emphasizing the dancers’ long vertical lines and their
is no question Saura is one of the best filmmakers in the world when it comes
to capturing dance on film. He also has an intuitive sense of how to best use the
inherent tension of flamenco percussion. Although flamenco costuming is
traditionally rather modest, several of the younger singers and dancer convey
quite a bit of passion through their performances. However, when María Bala steps
forward for her solo, the audience is transported to the Andalusian caves.
terms of quality, Flamenco, Flamenco is
remarkably consistent, but there are still notable standouts. Surprisingly, one
of the best is a two piano duet for Dorantes and Diego Amador. They both have
spectacular technique, but what really distinguishes “Cartagenera y Bulerías”
is just the sheer contagious fun they are having playing together.
time around, Saura’s approach will be somewhat controversial for purists,
because he includes several younger, fusionistic performers, such as Rocío
Molina. However, when she dances “Garrotín” with a cigarillo clenched in her
lips, she looks like she could have been Bizet’s inspiration for Carmen. Yet perhaps the most striking
choreography comes on the sacred-themed “Holy Week,” which also stretches our
conceptions of flamenco in a different way.
Shot entirely within the Seville Pavilion for 1992
Expo, F-F has a real sense of flowing
space, accentuated by Storaro’s swooping camera that often matches the dancers’
dramatic moves. At times, Saura uses gallery motifs for his backdrops, but he
often just employs warm primary colors to set-off the performers. Aside from
his previous films (such as Tango and
Fados), the most logical comparative
would be Trueba’s Calle 54, which is
high praise indeed. A rich feast for eyes and ears alike, Flamenco, Flamenco is highly recommended for general audiences,
whether they think they like flamenco or not, when it opens this Friday (11/21)
in New York at the Lincoln Plaza Cinemas.
Labels: Carlos Saura, Dance on film, Flamenco