Once again, work for “Miami New Times” is taking up my free writing time, but just as the band I interviewed last fits the Independent Ethos (The brothers of Inc. talk music with me in ‘Crossfade’/’Miami New Times’), so does this next subject: Pedro Almodóvar. I found his new film, I’m So Excited, to be his lightest in many years. I don’t think I’ve missed one of his movies since 1993’s Kika. Not all of his films are perfect, and this new one falls more into his imperfect side. I prefer when he goes deep into the traumas that form our personas, like the recent Broken Embraces (2009) and Volver (2006). But then, that’s me. However, I’m So Excited is still better silly fun to be had in a movie theater than most dumb Hollywood comedies.
Speaking of Hollywood, when I interviewed two main actors in I’m So Excited, Javier Cámara and Blanca Suárez, I could not help but ask them what they thought of the difference in the treatment of sexuality in Hollywood versus a filmmaker like Almodóvar. You can read about their insightful reaction— from Cámara recalling his first experience watching an Almodóvar film to Suárez espousing on the director’s transgressive nature— in the resulting piece for the art and culture blog “Cultist” in the “Miami New Times” by jumping through the logo to the blog post below:
Almodóvar also has a reputation for being very controlling, so I asked the actors about that. Here, at least, is a little exclusive outtake from the interview, which took place last month at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, off Brickell Key in Miami:
Hans Morgenstern: I was wondering, how much character Pedro gives you, and how much character you’re expected to bring for him, because he’s kind of controlling about that, isn’t he?
Javier Cámara: Yeah, yeah, he’s really controlling. He knows more than you in four lives [about] a character. He’s wandering around these characters for years. I remember that he told us once, “Oh, I’ve written another script in two weeks,” and he begins to tell us the story, and [I said], “Pedro, how could you do that?” because we were shooting every single day, 12 hours, and [he replied], “Yeah, I need to write.” He’s writing the whole time.
Blanca Suárez: He needs to [be doing something] all the time, and he does it, writing, and he doesn’t ever stop.
Cámara: Normally, he offers you a lot of ideas, [like taking] some courses in Latin or pilot courses or choreographies or whatever. He gives you all the information. “What do you need?” and then [he says] ‘Surprise me,’ and all these flamboyant and queeny characters … you need to put all these emotions into this. And, yes, it’s in the lines, but you have to dig a little bit because it’s a light film, and he’s a very flamboyant and queeny and, “Oh, we are going to die; let’s drink.” It reminds me of some George Cukor film, for example, [The] Women, and I remember that Pedro, offered to us, to Carlos [Areces who plays another cabin steward] and I, a scene about … yeah, Mujeres, Mujeres de Cukor, and I remember that we were improvising a little scene from Women, and at the end he cut the scene, because it’s like, ‘OK. I can’t improvise more.’ But he’s always doing improvisation about films from this moment in the 40s and the 50s. For example, Anne Bancroft. He told me, ‘Don’t turn yourself into Anne Bancroft.’ His life is always in the 40s and the 50s with the comedy. He loves Lubitsch and Wilder and Cukor. He was talking constantly about film, and this kind of lightness, like, “Anything is important.”
You both enjoy going back to working with him?
Suárez: Of course.
I’m So Excited is in Spanish with English subtitles, runs 90 min. and is rated R (for being too darn sexual for American kids). It plays in South Florida exclusively at the Coral Gables Art Cinema. Sony Pictures Classics invited me to a preview screening for the purpose of these interviews.