Fri, Jan 14, 2005 - Page 17 News List

Colorful characters make good plots

New independent films from Spain, Denmark and Cuba offer something different from Hollywood

By Yu Sen-lun  /  STAFF REPORTER

In Kill Me Tender, a loving couple schemes to squeeze the fortune out of an old widower.


For a taste of something other than Hollywood, this week, independent distributors present three foreign films: Kill Me Tender, a Spanish comedy, In Your Hands, an intense Danish film about a female prison chaplain's adventure in superstition, and Musica Cubana, the sequel to Buena Vista Social Club.

Kill Me Tender is a comedy about love and sex. Despite its loose narrative, it is a very funny movie especially its dialogues and situations.

Old baker Nestor (Ingrid Rubio) lives in a small village on the Mediterranean. Faced with the sudden death of his beloved wife, he is lonely and directionless. One of Nestor's clients recommends her daughter Maribel (Ingrid Rubio) to help out as an assistant in the bakery, to distract him from sorrow and to divert the do-nothing Maribel from ending up a as prostitute.

Watching too much TV out of boredom, the old Nestor begins to fantasize about the young and beautiful Maribel, who thus runs away to Barcelona only to find her sister in the S&M porn business. In Barcelona, Maribel is also introduced to the bunny debt collectors, who dress up in bunny costumes and follow debtors in order to annoy them enough to pay up. One night Maribel encounters Manolo (Albert San Juan) and successfully helps him collect money from a tough case. Soon they begin a passionate romance.

But Maribel eventually decides to marry Nestor, since she thinks a round of exceedingly rough sex with Nestor -- considering Nestor's heart disease -- might make her a rich widow. She dreams of living the good life with Manolo with the money. But things do not develop as planned.

The film is directed by Ramon de Espaia, a senior journalist of the Spanish national newspaper El Pais. It's de Espaia's debut feature film, and the storyline is smoothly depicted. Typical of Spanish melodrama, it has spicy content about sex and people living on the edge. De Espaia, however, seems to loose the plot as the narrative progresses.

Film Notes: Musica Cubana

Language: in Spanish with Chinese subtitles

Screening: Changchun Cinema Changchun Cinema (長春戲院), 172 Changchun Rd, Taipei (台北市長春路172號), President Cinema (總統戲院), 4F 59 Zhonghua Rd, Sec 1, Taipei (台北市中華路一段59號四樓)

Running time: 96 minutes

Taiwan Release: today

Kill Me Tender is an interesting comedy/drama but won't leave a lasting impression.

The Danish film In Your Hands is a far more serious film dealing with guilt, faith, superstition and conflicting loyalty.

A new prison chaplain, Anna (Ann Eleonora Jorgensen), is idealistic and ambitious while offering uplifting sermons to angry and depressed female convicts. Meanwhile, an arrogant, mysterious new inmate, Kate (Trine Dyrholm), arrives at the prison. Kate quickly gains a mystique of authority among the prisoners for her seeming possession of oracular knowledge (it's rumored she easily cured herself of drug addiction). A mind battle begins between the two women. But young Anna seems little by little to lose her faith.

One day, Kate casually predicts that Anna, who has longed for a baby with her boyfriend for years, will be pregnant soon. Anna becomes more tempted by "magical" powers and knowledge of the supernatural world.

But she faces more challenges. The unborn baby is found to have a chromosome defect. Anna and the boyfriend need to make a decision: disobey God's will and have an abortion or believe in witch-like Kate's prophetic words that the baby will be okay. At the same time, Anna also faces hassles from in-prison drug dealers and the prison guards.

In Your Hands is a dark drama featuring excellent performances by Ann Eleonora Jorgensen and Trine Dyrholm as Kate. It is a good choice for those into dark and cold dramas.

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