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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
An essential bookend to Boogie Nights, but it is more of a documentary and less of a cartoon. Surprisingly little violence and really not that much sex for a film about the soft-core porn biz in Spain that sprang up after Franco was gone. Nice title roll, reminiscent of an old James Bond film from the 80's. It definitely sets the tone of the times. The acting is top-notch but you don't know the actors. This makes the characters even more believable than if Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks were playing them. The film drags a little in the middle, but nothing serious. One amazing aspect of the film is that it depicts just how much makeup and lighting can do to make a woman look beautiful and glamorous, or frazzled and haggard. That brings up my one minor complaint. Two of the three female leads look similar enough that I got them confused during the early parts of the film. Then they show up wearing wigs and the radical changes in makeup, along with purposefully having their look changed to show time passing or pregnancy. The director needed to listen to Milos Forman's commentary to Amadeus, right at the beginning, where he agonizes over whether we will understand who the guy is running across the snowy courtyard. Its easy to keep characters straight reading a script, but harder to do when you are surfing the web and watching at the same time. No big deal, the flick is worth watching twice, and it will be easy to tell them apart the second time around. The cinematography is also beautiful in this film, not in every scene perhaps, but some are stunning. The movie is an interesting combination of morality play, character study, historical documentary, political commentary, and gyrrrl-power film. Not to mention the porn aspect, of course. Worth the watch, if only to show that the sun doesn't just rise and set in Hollywood.
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