- Mind-bending. 8/17/2004 12:00:00 AM by gridoon
"Abre Los Ojos" is one of the most astonishing movies I have ever seen. It's so full of astounding twists that it constantly makes you sit up and wonder what the next shot will bring you. At the same time, you keep wondering if a movie with so many twists will be able to tie everything up at the end, but Amenabar and his co-writer manage to do just that, in a reasonably (if not perfectly) satisfying manner. Eduardo Noriega's acting is so good it's beyond belief, and so is the "disfiguring" makeup. Pair this off with "The Game" for a truly mind-bending double feature and see what cinema should be like more often. (***1/2)
- So superior to Vanilla Sky that you have to see it to believe it 6/17/2005 12:00:00 AM by TBJCSKCNRRQTreviews
How I wish I had seen this film before seeing Vanilla Sky. There is so much subtlety, so many interesting ideas in this that have been butchered or simply lost in translation in the Hollywood version. The ending of Vanilla Sky pretty much explains everything... Abre Los Ojos leaves most of it up to interpretation and the viewers' imagination. Upon my recent second viewing, I realized how many hints there are towards the twist in the film, and how many ideas and subjects for good discussion that are in the film. The direction in Vanilla Sky seemed fine before, but in comparison, it's really daft and unimaginative. The majority of the good stuff in VS is stolen directly from ALO. A lot of it is changed to fit Hollywood's standards(and we all know how... high... they are), and the authenticity of the great idea is almost lost through this. This is the third Alejandro Amenabar movie I've seen(the other two are Thesis and The Others), and definitely my favorite so far. Not many films can catch and keep your interest even when you've already seen a (bastardized and cheaper) version of it already. I couldn't take my eyes off it. Like Amenábar's other films, this is slow and deliberate(whereas Crowe's version, in comparison, seems somewhat rushed, trying to get to the end as fast as possible, despite being a full half hour longer), and it really works to the films benefit. The music is wonderful, and it fits perfectly in every scene. The mood and atmosphere of the film is great. The effects are excellent... by comparison, those of Vanilla Sky are overly flashy and obvious. Here, they're beautiful and very subtle, like the rest of the film. The cinematography is very good, and far superior to that of VS. I realize that this seems more like a comparison between the two films than a review, but I can't seem to find the words to express just how great this is. See it for yourself. And in the name of all that is good and just, see it before you even consider watching Vanilla Sky. I recommend this to fans of intelligent films and/or Alejandro Amenábar. This is quite probably the best film he has made so far(though I haven't seen Mar Adentro yet). 9/10
- Very impressive; if you can, PLEASE see this before Vanilla Sky! 2/14/2003 12:00:00 AM by mattymatt4ever
"Vanilla Sky" turned out to be a moderate success and scored great reviews by most critics, and I liked it myself. But if you compare it to this film, there's almost nothing different! But of course, it's all Cameron Crowe's fault and not the fault of the director of this movie. Luckily, I haven't seen "VS" in a while, so certain surprises in the plot still intrigued me. And I was intrigued throughout the film, I think even moreso than with "VS."
Tom Cruise is a fine actor, and I have nothing against him. But I always appreciate seeing unknown actors (at least they're unknown to me; I don't live in Spain, so they might be superstars there) give fine performances. The actor who plays the main character in this film as just as effective as Cruise. He is an extremely attractive man and knows how to express a plethora of emotions. I've never been a big fan of Penelope Cruz's work in the states, because her English still isn't great and that clearly shows in the mangled expression of her dialogue. But in her native language she shows great talent. And since I find her much more attractive than I used to, I'm more appealed by her in the looks department. Plus, as a man I must reveal she has a great nude scene in the film.
One element of the plot that I don't think Crowe's "VS" expressed as well was the jealousy between the handsome main character and his best friend. I was able to connect with that portion of the story, since I have a best friend like the main character who's charming girls left and right, while I (the average guy) have virtually no appeal to the ladies. I know what it's like to possess that sort of envy, and so do the average guys all around who see handsome guys doing the same things we do, but get more favorable results just on account of their good looks. The film also expresses the theme that no matter how many times most attractive men claim their looks are of no importance to them, if their looks were one day to be stolen from them, they'd lose the will to live.
I'm sure if I saw "Vanilla Sky" after this movie, I'd enjoy it a lot less. This is sheer proof that the general American public is too lazy to read subtitles. Because if you were watching the DVD of "VS" and switched the language channels from English to Spanish, it's the same damn movie! And now I feel sorry for the director of this movie, since he's the genius behind this genuinely original story, but Cameron Crowe comes along and takes all the credit. I am not one of those grouches who hates remakes, but if you're going to remake a film, put your own spin on it! Don't take all the original ideas and conduct it with different actors! And wait a couple decades for God's sake! "Open Your Eyes" was released in 1997 and "VS" only four years later. So unless you're illiterate, please see "Open Your Eyes" before you even consider "Vanilla Sky"!
My score: 8 (out of 10)
- Just great entertainment from beginning to end 7/26/2004 12:00:00 AM by raymond-15
Although the plot is confusing at times, a second viewing helps to untangle the convoluted story about dreams and reality. Most of the time we are not sure if what we are watching is really happening or whether it is a profoundly disturbing nightmare. Cesar (Edouardo Noriega) whose head is badly fractured in a high speed car crash quite understandably has blurred recollections of events involving his good buddy Pelayo and his girl friends Sofia and Nuria. As his doctor explains: In dreams characters are often substituted, one for the other.
There is much I like about this film. First of all I like the script. The dialogue between Sofia and Cesar at first meeting and afterwards is so natural, so believable. The four main characters are absolutely charming and have a rapport between each other that is rarely seen in films. This is either good casting or good acting, or maybe a bit of both. As the story unfolds we are completely absorbed. This is true entertainment on the highest level. O.K. we may not be fully cognisant of what is happening at times, but we glue ourselves to the screen expecting that an explanation will come in due course.
There are some chilling lines e.g. Just before Nuria steps on the accelerator: "Do you believe in God?"
There are some mysterious questions put to Cesar e.g. "Who is Eli? You called out 'Eli...Eli' while you were dreaming. Is she a girl?" No such person. What then? The mystery deepens.
There is quality photography in the film. The rain in the park. And before that the reflections of foliage flashing in the car windows with glimpses of tense faces.
The make-up team too does a great job On Cesar's handsome face. What a transformation!
On top of all this we get a lesson on cryonics and the possibility of immortality. What more do you want for your money?
Take it from me. This is a film you must see.
- Stunning, complex sci-fi 3/16/2002 12:00:00 AM by bob the moo
César has been left rich by his restaurant owning parents. When he meets the beautiful Sofia at a party he uses her as a way to escape his jealous ex Nuria. After a night of talking with Sofia, César is picked up by Nuria who crashes her car deliberately killing her and horribly disfiguring him. With surgery limited as to what it can achieve César despairs at his loss (his looks, not Nuria) and tries to pick up with Sofia. However when surgery returns his looks he thinks everything is solved ? but his dreams become more vivid blurring his sense of reality. He tells his fragmented story to a physiatrist in a mental institution/prison where he waits trail for murder.
Suddenly this little beauty is being sought out ? even if Vanilla Sky is mixed, at least it put the original on the bigger stage. The story is magnificently set out ? it builds slowly and you never know the full story ? even the ending requires you to catch up really quickly. Not knowing what's going on at some points may frustrate some audiences, but it just drives this film on. It is a little far fetched at points but it's handled so well that you don't mind. The story is laced with emotion and passion ? the ending is moving for so many reasons that I won't spoil.
Director Amenádar delivers a visually great film ? he uses the dream sequences well and regularly contrasts the beauty and the twisted face of César. He delivers a story that is stylish and clever, using his cast to spin out a human drama before launching into the realm of science fiction.
Noriega is great as the conceited César ? his character and his fate can both be taken as comments on vanity and the importance of image ? and he is more than able to handle all the sides to his character. Cruz is good here too ? she is quite attractive and plays well in a smallish role. The most underrated performance is given by the physiatrist ? his role becomes bigger at the end and he handles the complexities thrust upon his character well.
Overall this is a superb film that mixes a clever plot, good acting, a great script and stylish direction. It may lose some of it's impact once you know the full story and it should be enjoyed as freshly as possible ? but it will stand repeat viewings to get the full picture.