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Alejandro Amenábar (1972 - )


Alejandro Amenábar (born March 31, 1972) is a noted film director. Having done only four films, Amenábar is considered one of the most important Spanish directors working today. He was born in Santiago, Chile in 1972, from a Spanish mother and Chilean father. They went back to Spain in 1973. Today he has dual nationality from Spain and Chile. He is a declared homosexual. (Shangay and Zero magazines, september 2004 editions.)

Amenábar was awarded the Grand Prix of the Jury at the International Venice Film Festival in 2004 for Mar Adentro. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alejandro_Amen%E1bar [Sept 2004]

Thesis (1996) - Alejandro Amenábar

... Spanish director Alejandro Amenábar grabbed the attention of American audiences with his dreamy thriller ...

  • Thesis (1996) - Alejandro Amenábar [Amazon.com]
    Spanish director Alejandro Amenábar grabbed the attention of American audiences with his dreamy thriller Open Your Eyes, but he earlier sent shock waves throughout Spain in 1996 with this disturbing debut. Thesis is a quietly creepy psychological thriller about a young college student, Ángela (Ana Torrent) investigating the social fascination with sensational violence for her thesis project. In her search for violent video footage, she stumbles onto what may be a real live snuff film, a videotape that her professor was watching before his untimely death. With the help of a geeky gore junkie she uncovers a conspiracy that may include her handsome but sinister new boyfriend, her thesis advisor, and even her weirdo partner. When she uncovers one too many secrets lying in the catacombs of the university basement, she realizes that she may be the next victim. It goes on perhaps too long, and Amenábar's pointed observations on the lure of violence and the dark side of human nature are lost as the spiraling mystery spins into a first-person nightmare, but his skill at weaving a paranoid world where evil may lurk behind every friendly face is undeniable. Thesis is reminiscent of Brian De Palma's early thrillers: dark, stylish, subdued, and bubbling with the characters' guilty (and ultimately dangerous) fascination with the transgressive.
  • Abre Los Ojos/Open Your Eyes (1997) - Alejandro Amenábar

    Abre los ojos (Open Your Eyes) is a 1997 film directed by Alejandro Amenábar and written by him and Mateo Gil. It stars Eduardo Noriega as César, a successful and handsome young man in Madrid who becomes severely disfigured in an automobile crash and then undergoes some disorienting experiences. The film also stars Penélope Cruz as Sofía, Najwa Nimri as Nuria (the girl who causes the automobile crash that disfigures César), Fele Martínez as César's friend Pelayo, and Chete Lera as Antonio, a psychiatrist who becomes something of a father figure to César.

    Director Cameron Crowe remade the film as Vanilla Sky (2001), with Tom Cruise in the lead role (renamed David Aames), Penélope Cruz reprising her role as Sofía, Cameron Diaz as the girl who disfigures David (renamed Julie Gianni), Jason Lee as the friend (renamed Brian Shelby), and Kurt Russell as the psychiatrist (renamed Curtis McCabe). The remake also transplants the action from Madrid to New York.

    Plot summary
    After César's disfigurement, he begins to have a series of disorienting experiences, culminating in his arrest for the murder of a woman said to be Sofía but whom César believes to be Nuria. It is gradually revealed that, shortly after his disfigurement, César contracted with 'Life Extension', a company specializing in cryonics, to be cryogenically preserved and to experience extremely lucid and lifelike virtual reality dreams. He then committed suicide and was placed in cryogenic suspension. His experiences from about the midpoint of the movie onward have been a dream, spliced retroactively into his actual life and replacing his true memories. At the end of the film he elects to wake up and be resurrected.

    The Cameron Crowe remake follows the original plot very closely but makes minor changes to the ending and incorporates a great many pop culture references.

    The overall plot device and themes of unreality in Abre los ojos are very similar to those employed in the novel Ubik by Philip K. Dick. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abre_los_ojos [May 2006]

    Imagine if an actor's director like Eric Rohmer--whose films consist almost entirely of conversation between pairs or small groups of people--made a film that incorporated elements from movies like Dark City, eXistenZ, The Thirteenth Floor, The Truman Show, and Total Recall. The result might resemble Alejandro Amenabar's remarkable second feature, Open Your Eyes, which favors ideas over effects and offers twist upon twist with mind-warping agility. This film rewards multiple viewings, pushing the viewer toward one perception of reality, then switching to another until reality itself is called into question. Melodrama, love story, and psychological thriller combine with a dash of science fiction, forming a plot that is both disorienting and deceptively precise.

    Set in Madrid, the story defies description, but this much can be revealed: young, handsome Cesar (Eduardo Noriega) is vain, rich, charming, and--following a botched suicide-murder scheme by a jilted lover--horribly disfigured. He'd fallen in love with Sofia (Penélope Cruz) but is now an embittered husk of his former self, stuck in a "psychiatric penitentiary" on a murder charge and hiding behind an expressionless mask. His reality has crumbled, but as the film's agenda is gradually revealed, we realize that there are other factors in play. Exposing that agenda would be a criminal offense against those who haven't seen the film; suffice it to say that Open Your Eyes takes you into the twilight zone and beyond, and does so cleverly enough to prompt Tom Cruise to produce and star in an English-language remake, Vanilla Sky. The 2001 remake, directed by Cameron Crowe, costars Cameron Diaz and Penélope Cruz, who reprises her original role. --Jeff Shannon for Amazon.com

    The Others (2001) - Alejandro Amenábar

    ... A welcome throwback to the spooky traditions of Jack Clayton's The Innocents and Robert Wise's The Haunting ...

  • The Others (2001) - Alejandro Amenábar [Amazon US]
    A welcome throwback to the spooky traditions of Jack Clayton's The Innocents and Robert Wise's The Haunting, Alejandro Amenábar's The Others favors atmosphere, sound, and suggestion over flashy special effects. Set in 1945 on a fog-enshrouded island off the British coast, the film begins with a scream as Grace (Nicole Kidman) awakens from some unspoken horror, perhaps arising from her religiously overprotective concern for her young children, Anne (Alakina Mann) and Nicholas (James Bentley). The children are hypersensitive to light and have lived in a musty manor with curtains and shutters perpetually drawn. With Grace's husband presumably lost at war, this ominous setting perfectly accommodates a sense of dreaded expectation, escalating when three strangers arrive in response to Grace's yet-unposted request for domestic help. Led by housekeeper Mrs. Mills (Fionnula Flanagan), this mysterious trio is as closely tied to the house's history as Grace's family is--as are the past occupants seen posthumously posed in a long-forgotten photo album.
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