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film review

Antonio Banderas, Penélope Cruz and Oscar Martínez in Official Competition.1996-98 AccuSoft Inc., All rights reserved/Courtesy of TIFF

Official Competition

Directed by Mariano Cohn and Gaston Duprat

Written by Mariano Cohn, Gaston Duprat and Andres Duprat

Starring Antonio Banderas, Penelope Cruz and Oscar Martinez

Classification R; 114 minutes

Opens in select theatres June 24, including the TIFF Lightbox in Toronto

Critic’s Pick

In some vast but empty modernist institution, an idiosyncratic auteur deploys some dastardly trust exercises in an effort to get two egomaniacs – one a big movie star, the other a revered stage actor – to stop pissing and start performing. This Spanish-language satire of the film industry, from the Argentinian duo Mariano Cohn and Gaston Duprat, is one big and delightful inside joke for the art-house aficionado.

For starters, as the preening global celebrity, Antonio Banderas is basically mocking himself. Meanwhile, his rival, a self-righteous artsy pseud, is surgically exposed by the performance of the Argentinian actor Oscar Martinez. When the star, imagining their Oscar acceptance speeches, asks the stage actor if he speaks English, he replies no, he has never learned it because he would never want to be the one Latin lending exoticism to some Hollywood crap.

An octogenarian millionaire pharmaceutical tycoon decides to finance a great work of cinema in Official Competition.Courtesy of TIFF

Meanwhile, Penelope Cruz plays their aggressively eccentric director with a perfect blend of oddball, hauteur and deadpan. One of the many joys of this send-up of filmmaking is that, for all the director’s looniness, she is so often right.

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