Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
De la Iglesia’s My Big Night
Year’s in October is sort of like Christmas in July, but there are fewer
door-buster sales and more hooking-up. During the pre-recording of a Spanish
New Year’s countdown special, just about everything goes wrong behind the
scenes, but the extras hired to be party guests hardly notice. They are too
busy acting crazy in Álex de la Iglesia’s My
Big Night (trailer
opens this Friday in New York.
José has no clue what to expect
when his employment agency sends him to the set of the television special, but
the increasingly violent picket line outside is the first sign this will be no
ordinary gig. His previously shunned seat will be right beneath the camera-crane
that beaned his predecessor. Much to his delight, he strikes up an immediate rapport
with the bombshell Paloma. In fact, his entire table seems to have paired up
quite amorously. Unfortunately, they blame the allegedly jinxed Paloma for a
series of accidents plaguing the set.
of Paloma’s luck or karma, she is probably the least of everyone’s worries.
Instead, they should be more concerned with the aging Tom Jones figure Alphonso
(just “Alphonso,” in the uni-named tradition of superstardom), whose resentful
adopted son has recruited a psychotic fan to assassinate him. Meanwhile,
gold-digging extras have conspired to secure a vial of bodily fluid from the
ridiculous new pop idol Adanne, as part of a child support scheme. All the
madness unfolds under the negligent eye of the embezzling producer, who plans
to abscond as soon as they finish taping. Unfortunately, it seems like this
disastrous show will never end—and why should it, when everyone else is having
so much fun?
Big Night addresses many of
the same issues de la Iglesia tackled in the dour and didactic As Luck Would Have It, but this time he
binges on the sort of naughty humor and madcap energy the earlier film
completely lacked. Granted, there is still a fair amount of predatory behavior
on display, but it is always played for darkly comic effect. The frothier films
of Almodór are an obvious comparison, but Big
Night has a madness all its own.
the game ensemble will pretty much do anything for a laugh. For the local
Spanish audience, it starts with real life Latin balladeer Raphael (still with
the one name) playing a wildly exaggerated (we should hope) version of himself.
In a similar spirit, as Adanne, Mario Casas gives a performance worthy of
Fabio. However, Pepón Nieto solidly anchors the lunacy as poor, confused José.
In all honesty, My Big Night might be de la Iglesia’s
most accomplished feat of auteurism since The Last Circus. Frankly, it goes well past over-the-top, becoming spectacularly
impressive for its manic pace and sheer bravado. Highly recommended for those
who enjoy farce with an acidic edge, My
Big Night opens this Friday (4/15) in New York, at the AMC Empire.
Labels: Alex de la Iglesia, Spanish Cinema