Global Lens Film Series: 'The Fantastic World of Juan Orol'
Directed by Sebastian del Amo Mexico, 2012, 90 minutes. In Spanish with English subtitles.
Move over Ed Wood! The real-life story of Mexico’s half-forgotten B-movie master, “involuntary surrealist” Juan Orol (1897–1988), receives a pitch-perfect tribute in this deft, irresistible love letter to a self-made man of showbiz, whose career spanned half a century and nearly 60 films.
In Mexico City in 1982, aged actor-director Juan Orol sits with well-worn resignation outside a nearly empty cinema and imparts his life story to an idle young usher. What follows is a glorious black-and-white flashback mingling movie-tainted memories of his Galician childhood, his forced exile (by an overburdened mother) to Cuba and his eventual arrival in Mexico, as intrepid Juanito pursues failed careers as baseball player, boxer, bullfighter and gangster before landing in the movies — where failure kind of works for him.
Flanked by an all-pro cast, Roberto Sosa’s brilliant interpretation of Orol exudes droll underdog charm, anchoring a fast-moving comedy where practically every frame is an infectious homage to the golden age of cinema, the wile of memory and the art of fantasy.
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