The 19th edition of the Los Angeles Film Festival kicked off ten days of screenings and events Thursday night (our recommendations are below) with Pedro Almodovar's sexily escapist romp "I'm So Excited" (review here), which played well for the North American premiere crowd downtown at LA Live. The Spanish auteur was on hand in a splendid lime suit, shilling for Hollywood roles for his cast--"They speak good English!"--and hanging at the rooftop after party with Nastassja Kinski, John Lithgow, fest artistic director David Ansen, and Guillermo del Toro, who clearly enjoyed an opportunity to hang with his Spanish-speaking peeps.
While the film is a lot of fun and played well in Spain--the title implies not only enthusiasm but sexual arousal--Almodovar admitted that he turned Spain's "catastrophe into a party, to which you are invited. There is a technical problem and we don't know what to do and we don't know how the problem is going to end. The best way to interfere with this kind of fear and anxiety is talking a lot, a good solution they find in alcohol, they do drugs, and have a big crazy sexual orgy." What's not to like?
At the after party, Almodovar told me that he is concerned that Spain is returning to the sort of right wing strictures that he grew up with: "You cannot imagine how bad it is, fear and uncertainty is exactly what we are feeling now. We have a most awful Right government, riots, they are trying to prohibit abortion... It's really the worst moment since the democracy came to Spain. So I'm glad that now I can offer to the audience something uplifting. At the same time it's a metaphor for the Spanish situation: traveling in circles without knowing where to land. It's a movie that I wanted to escape from that."
A fatigued Del Toro is tirelessly working to deliver the various elements due on "Pacific Rim," a movie that he executed on such a gigantic scale that he wants the film to be seen in IMAX, if possible. Warner Bros. spent millions and took a long time to retrofit the movie in 3-D, which will be of the highest quality, he insists, as will the immersive Dolby Atmos sound, which he has learned to use and likes a lot.
Check out the packed LAFF schedule here. See our picks for the fest below.