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KPCW sends its most discerning moviegoers to the movies each week to let you know which films are worth going to and which are a pass. The Friday Film Review airs at 7:20 a.m., during the Noon News and in The Local View. KPCW Friday Film Reviewers are: Barb Bretz, Rick Brough, Mark Harrington and Linda Jager.

Friday Film Review-"Official Competition"

Official Competition
IFC Films
Official Competition

It’s not easy creating a movie masterpiece.

The satirical film Official Competition pulls back the curtain on the creative process behind a movie that—Spoiler Alert—isn’t a mega-budget superhero flick, and isn’t even trying to get into Sundance.

The story begins with an aging pharmaceutical billionaire who wants to leave his stamp on something. A bridge or a non-profit foundation isn’t good enough. But if he could produce the prestigious adaptation of a prize-winning novel he hasn’t bothered to read—that’s the ticket!

He hires Lola Cuevas, a critically-acclaimed and eccentric director, played by Penelope Cruz. Lola hires two stars who are guaranteed to be oil and water.

Felix, portrayed by Antonio Banderas, is an international box-office idol. He’s got awards and adoring fans and records PSA’s for worthy causes like saving the pink dolphin.

Ivan, played by Oscar Martinez, is a venerated acting coach and man of the theater. When he’s alone in front of the mirror, he fantasizes about winning an Oscar—so he can turn it down.

The two men barely contain their bristling contempt for each other, but are perversely proud when they can bring off a professional façade. After all, they’re actors.

On occasion, they band together, in feeling baffled or exasperated by their director, Lola, and her strange acting exercises. There are some great sight gags and sound gags too. On one occasion, the men are Saran-wrapped together, with only their eye-holes visible, which is supposed to be some kind of lesson about ego and losing their autonomy.

The plot also involves the billionaire’s daughter, who is selected for a supporting role (or is maybe just an off-camera sex toy); and a disaster occurring at the 11th hour. The production becomes a three-sided contest where we’re waiting to see whose pretension ego and neuroses will go off the rails first.

The film is directed and written by Argentinean film-makers Mariano Cohn and brothers Gaston and Andres Duprat. Actor Martinez is a fellow countrymen.

But film fans will be most excited to see the first extended collaboration between Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz—the two major stars spawned by the last 30 years of Spanish cinema, and especially by director Pedro Almodovar.

Official Competition sometimes lapses into the kind of pretention that it’s mocking. But I’m giving it four thumbs up out of five.

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covered Summit County meetings and issues for 35 years on KPCW. He now heads the Friday Film Review team.