Reviews — February 15
Spanish director Icíar Bollaín’s film “Even the Rain” is an amazing film that makes me regret I have so little space to persuade you to see it. The premise is so politically audacious, I may have laughed out loud when I first heard about it: A film company that sets out to showcase how Columbus exploited the Indians finds itself guilty of doing the same thing even as the production is engulfed in local political unrest brought about by … exploitation of the Indians.
This is an artistic minefield, obviously. So many things could have gone wrong. It could have been preachy. Characters could have been portrayed in black and white. The poor could have been idealized, romanticized.
Amazingly, Bollaín and her remarkable cast rise above it all and deliver a politically nuanced, socially conscious and occasionally thrilling movie populated by interesting and complicated people. So many, many things could have gone wrong, and they got it all right.
Gael García Bernal and Luis Tosar, as the director and producer, are terrific. Even when they are not speaking, you can see them at war with their own consciences. They desperately want to tell one story, even as they struggle against the historical forces unleashed 500 years earlier by the very same story. It’s one of the best movies about making a movie I’ve seen in a long time.
“Even the Rain” (2010) Directed by Icíar Bollaín. Starring Gael García Bernal, Luis Tosar and Juan Carlos Aduviri. Shot on location in Bolvia. Spanish, with English subtitles. 104 minutes. Unrated, but in PG-13 territory for brief violence, language.
The subtitle on the cover of “Island of the Sequined Love Nun” proclaims, “A Novel.” Is that another bit of humor from author Christopher Moore, who makes almost every other part of the book funny? Or might someone actually mistake this for a nonfiction treatise about a South Pacific isle on which the natives actually worship the babe-alicious mascot painted on the nose of a World War II bomber?
Either way, it’s a hugely funny book that’s also surprisingly plausible.
The rouged-bomber, nicknamed the Sky Priestess, made an emergency landing on Aluala , the nearly forgotten slip of land at the northernmost tip of Micronesia. Its pilot, Vincent, feels sorry for the natives, who have just been ravaged by the Japanese, so he finagles food and goods shipments to the island along with a boat to pick up his crew.
Bellies full of Spam, holding their new machetes, makeup and magazines, the islanders look upon Vincent as a God and his bomber, the Sky Priestess, as his symbol.
It’s a naive and beautiful thing, really. And naturally, it’s ripe for exploitation — by a former missionary doctor who now worships money instead of God, and a nurse-turned-stripper masquerading as the Sky Priestess to a soundtrack of Glenn Miller tunes.
Enter Tucker Case, a corporate pilot who’s good at flying and mediocre, at best, at everything else. He’s not bad-hearted, just lazy, and he rarely makes an effort at anything other than drinking and chasing women.
Eventually, this gets him into trouble and he loses his pilot’s license. Then he gets a mysterious job offer from a doctor on a South Seas island. Sure, it sounds too good to be true, but it’s the path of least resistance, so Tuck takes it.
And it leads, as you might have guessed, to the “Island of the Sequined Love Nun.”
The book isn’t for everyone. It contains some sexual references, although it’s pretty mild stuff. It also includes a fairly graphic depiction of a shark hunt, which the author says is based on traditional methods in the island.
There are hints of the paranormal and fantasy, as well. This is, after all, “A Novel.”
“Island of the Sequined Love Nun,” by Christopher Moore, 1997, Avon Books.