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May 27, 2009

Cinema Q Film Festival: Two Spanish Souffles

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Chef's Special/Fuera de Carta
Nacho G. Velilla - 2008
TLA Releasing 35mm Film

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Chica busta Chica
Sonia Sebastian - 2009
Wolfe Video

Chef's Special is a good natured comedy with some dramatic moments about a Spanish chef trying to deal with his full plate called life. In addition to taking on the two children he had abandoned years ago from a failed marriage, there is also his new lover, a closeted former soccer star, and his dream of getting a Michelin star for his restaurant. If making sure the food in his restaurant isn't just right, Maxi also has to deal with the personal problems his staff bring to work. Home and work overlap with a female Maitre d' whose in love with the soccer player, Horacio, unaware that he is gay and Maxi's lover. Father and children have a difficult time getting to know each other, with the teenage son especially resentful about having a father that ignored him most of his life.

Nacho G. Velilla's debut feature is pleasant enough. Some of the best moments are incidental to the narrative, such as when Maxi's daughter, demanding of a fairy tale read to her every night, wants to know how, when read "Puss 'n Boots", a cat is able to take the boots on and off. While many of the characters seem to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown, there's nothing in the more farcical aspects to the film that would be unfamiliar to the more frankly sexual films of Pedro Almodovar or Bigas Luna. Chef's Special is as light, sweet and quickly digestible as the pancakes Maxi cooks for Horacio's breakfast.

Chica Busca Chica isn't a movie but four television episodes strung together. The title means "woman seeking woman", as these chic chicas in Madrid look for love, usually in the wrong places. The women are quite pretty, but the show itself is hardly the Spanish equivalent to The L Word beyond beyond a show with a several lesbians, a possible bisexual, and a self-declared newbie who happily and naively decides it's time to experience sapphic love. There are a few chuckles, but I suspect that the show which can be seen online with or without English subtitles, works better seen in weekly segment. Writer-director Sonia Sebastian has also made a couple of short films.

Chef's Special will be shown Saturday, at 5 pm. Chica busca Chica is scheduled to follow at 7:30 pm.

Posted by peter at May 27, 2009 12:25 AM