1997 Miami Film Festival Diaries
Tuesday brought a very big surprise. Have you ever seen a movie from Peru?
This one's called "Under the Skin" (Bajo la piel). If you know
early Hitchcock and the French filmmaker, Claude Chabrol, you'd love this
Director Francisco Lombardi sets his story in a dusty town near an archaeological
dig. Four young men have been decapitated in ritualistic fashion, and the
local sheriff arrests the professor who's too academic for murder. But
it makes everybody happy so they can get drunk on their annual feast day.
Enter the new coroner, a young woman who, as she says, "prefers dead
bodies over live ones," although she's capable of powerful sex with
any live ones who present themselves to her. And the guys are beating a
path to her door - including the sheriff. You can imagine that this starts
coiling like a rattlesnake, as another murder occurs, the sheriff lets love
make a man and then a bad-man out of him, and ---- wow! It stays there:
wrapped in a tight little turning of snakeskin. You gotta chuckle at the
We all stood in the hot Miami night asking each other, "So who committed
the first four murders?" and then spent the next hour sorting out the
details. Brian De Palma, eat your heart out! Or buy the remake rights,
and make a good movie for a change.
On the terrace of the Double-Tree Hotel is a good bar where nightly jazz
was offered 'round midnight. Here were sightings of celebrities visiting
Miami on other entertainment business. Festival psychology dictates, however,
that you don't bug celebrities like, say, Tommy Tune, if he's not here to
be bugged. So we chat with South American directors and spot trends while
trying not to stare at what Mr. Tune is eating and drinking.
Trend #1: Spanish directors write better scripts than American directors.
Trend #2: Low-budgets and non-English language movies are the most interesting
films at festivals.
Trend #3: Any big Hollywood movie at a small festival needs to be there
- in the hope that it will be mistaken for art.
Trend #4: The ubiquitous Parker Posey has never seen a role she doesn't
like - and isn't capable of.
- More tomorrow.
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