Film Scouts Diaries

1997 Miami Film Festival Diaries
Day Five

by Karen Jaehne

Tuesday brought a very big surprise. Have you ever seen a movie from Peru? This one's called "Under the Skin" (Bajo la piel). If you know early Hitchcock and the French filmmaker, Claude Chabrol, you'd love this creepy thriller.

Director Francisco Lombardi sets his story in a dusty town near an archaeological dig. Four young men have been decapitated in ritualistic fashion, and the local sheriff arrests the professor who's too academic for murder. But it makes everybody happy so they can get drunk on their annual feast day.

Enter the new coroner, a young woman who, as she says, "prefers dead bodies over live ones," although she's capable of powerful sex with any live ones who present themselves to her. And the guys are beating a path to her door - including the sheriff. You can imagine that this starts coiling like a rattlesnake, as another murder occurs, the sheriff lets love make a man and then a bad-man out of him, and ---- wow! It stays there: wrapped in a tight little turning of snakeskin. You gotta chuckle at the end.

We all stood in the hot Miami night asking each other, "So who committed the first four murders?" and then spent the next hour sorting out the details. Brian De Palma, eat your heart out! Or buy the remake rights, and make a good movie for a change.

On the terrace of the Double-Tree Hotel is a good bar where nightly jazz was offered 'round midnight. Here were sightings of celebrities visiting Miami on other entertainment business. Festival psychology dictates, however, that you don't bug celebrities like, say, Tommy Tune, if he's not here to be bugged. So we chat with South American directors and spot trends while trying not to stare at what Mr. Tune is eating and drinking.

Trend #1: Spanish directors write better scripts than American directors.

Trend #2: Low-budgets and non-English language movies are the most interesting films at festivals.

Trend #3: Any big Hollywood movie at a small festival needs to be there - in the hope that it will be mistaken for art.

Trend #4: The ubiquitous Parker Posey has never seen a role she doesn't like - and isn't capable of.

- More tomorrow.

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