During a meeting at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Miami, a chatty Javier Cámara cannot resist an opportunity to channel his plane steward character Joserra. "You need water," he tells the trio of journalists gathered for the interview. "Let me serve you water. I play a stewardess in the film, after all." He springs up from the table to a pitcher of water sitting at a table on the other side of the room, leaving actress Blanca Suárez to grin politely and roll her iridescent gray eyes.
The two are in town to promote I'm So Excited, director Pedro Almodóvar's sexuality-celebrating new film. The on-screen action takes place on board an airplane from the fictional Peninsula Airlines (phallic pun intended), burning off fuel so it might make an emergency landing. In the meantime, the crew and first class passengers kill time with a musical number and an orgy while coming to terms with unfinished emotional business. (Those flying economy have been narcotized for their own safety).
Cámara first worked with the director in his now classic Talk To Her (2002) where two men bond after their girlfriends wind up in comas. Suárez made her debut Almodóvar appearance in his last film, The Skin I Live In (2011). She played a woman held against her will by a demented plastic surgeon played by Antonio Banderas.
Cámara offers a life-forming story about his first experience with Almodóvar as a young teenager catching the uncut television debut of Law of Desire in the late 80s. "I was 14, 15," he says, "and it was absolutely shocking ... I was living in a little town in the north of Spain, and it's a very conservative place, and my dad was smoking, watching Antonio Banderas and Eusebio Poncela having sex, and I was like [laughs], 'Oh, my God,' and Mom was cooking, peeling potatoes, and I remember myself watching it, absolutely thrilled."
Now comes I'm So Excited, whose title alludes as much to the Pointer Sisters song to which three first class plane stewards lip-synch during a choreographed sequence on board the seemingly doomed airliner as to its literal translation back to Spanish: I'm So Horny. While Americans seem to prefer their titillation on the privacy of their home computers, the Spanish director brings sexuality to the center with this sly, tawdry film.
"Pedro is a natural transgressor and constantly breaks barriers," notes Suárez, speaking in Spanish. "He talks about what he fancies to talk about, from sexuality, drugs, politics ... many things."
Cámara adds, "But it is true that I would like the movies here to be more accessible to certain forms of love, rather than certain forms of violence that are so absurdly accepted ... But there are certain forms of love that are not accepted, and that surprises me in a film industry as big as this, especially as influential, because--pedagogically--American cinema is very educational, not just for culture, but for many young filmmakers. So to not show sex, show no love, not show the varied sexual relations, it surprises me."
Cámara says he cannot help but wonder that maybe American filmmakers are trying to compensate in some way with films that emphasize violence over sex. "Why do they use violence? To show what? Masculinity? To show fear? 'I'm great?' What are you showing with all this violence? What are you trying to tell me? That, 'I'm still powerful?'"
One interesting aspect of the U.S. distribution of this film is that, despite the fact that it actually does not contain any nudity, the film has received an R rating by the MPAA. Suárez notes, "This is a film where you don't see anything. It deals with love, sex non-stop, orgies that you understand, but you don't see." She turns to Cámara, "Pedro has a scene where you button up your partner's shirt at a close proximity. That's so much more sexual, more intimate..."
"My partner is putting my tie in order because we've just had sex," Cámara offers. "It's very intimate because it's a very narrow aisle."
"It's much more shocking," continues Suárez, "and Pedro plays a lot with that. The spectator has a feeling of having seen much more than they have actually seen because you don't see anything."
Follow Hans Morgenstern on Twitter @indieethos.
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