As cinema aficionados, we appreciate a film that goes behind the scenes and satirizes the egos and economics of movie-making with sharp, sly performances by global celebrities. Official Competition “skewers the pretensions of cinema, hilariously” (as the Washington Post reviewer describes it).
Join us on Sunday, November 13, 2022, at 10 a.m. to enjoy Official Competition as Cinema Art Bethesda continues IN-PERSON screenings at the Landmark Bethesda Theater.
Official Competition (Competencia oficial) stars Penélope Cruz as cinema laureate Lola Cuevas, a highly eccentric director, who is hired by a megalomaniac billionaire (played by José Luis Gómez) determined to make his mark on history by creating a film that will secure his reputation. “Rivalry,” the film-within-a-film’s script, involves two brothers portrayed by Antonio Banderas and Oscar Martinez who begin feuding as soon as they meet on the movie set. Banderas’ character is celebrity actor Félix Rivero, and Martinez (a celebrated Argentine actor) portrays acclaimed stage actor Iván Torres. Iván is an aging method actor who has extensively prepared his character’s past, while Félix is a flamboyant Hollywood “woman-wasting star” who finds Iván’s methods pointless. The two actors are at antipodes but both legends, with an unparalleled charisma and ego. And Lola has her own ideas of how they should perform.
Directed by Argentina’s Gaston Duprat and Mariano Cohn from a screenplay by Duprat, Cohn and Andrés Duprat, Official Competition skewers the pretentions and the chaos of the high-strung characters and the production process. Lola requires increasingly bizarre exercises of her actors, such as forcing them to repeat single lines or words. At one point she arranges to dangle a huge boulder over the heads of Iván and Félix via a crane to emulate the tension of the scene they are rehearsing. She also finds other ways to torment the actors. Eventually Félix tells Lola and Iván that he has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and is on palliative care, suggesting that “Rivalry” will be his final masterpiece. He’s lying as part of his ploy to dominate the film – a clever allusion to the chicanery that is part of the moving image world.
The film runs for 1 hour 55 minutes; dialog in Spanish with English subtitles.
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