Sunday, March 09, 2008

On Eduardo Noriega

This weekend was the SCMS annual conference, held this year in Philadlephia. I have had the good fortune to be able to present at the conference every year (except 2000) and it regularly becomes the energizing academic force for me every year. This year, blogging came into play as well: I have recently read about bloggers meeting other bloggers but hadn't done that myself until Stinkylulu sent me an email asking if we should meet while at SCMS -- and suddenly, I realized that several of the film blogs I've been lurking around were also written by young film nerds academics like me! It was a blast meeting Lulu and Nick (and QTA, whose own blog is now defunct because of silly pressures like having to write one's dissertation and all). Plus, I went to a couple panels directly related to blogging on films, so we'll see how this affects this space as well. (Although Nick and Lulu both said that the Xan-pics need to keep coming as well.)

My own paper was for a panel on the relationship between contemporary Latin American cinema and Ibermedia, the most prominent funding source for Latin American filmmaking, which happens to be located in Spain. The panel was great: one person wrote about the program itself, I gave some ideological implications resulting from the growing dependence on Ibermedia within Latin America, and a third offered a somewhat anthropological glimpse as an insider on a movie funded by Ibermedia. We had a robust crowd with over a half hour of questions (unheard of!) and a number of compliments after we broke.

And, of course, this meant that I talked a little about Eduardo Noriega.

You may or may not know that I am teaching a course on Stardom this semester and I am always tempted to discuss him because he fascinates me. He actually has made a number of films, of which I have seen four: Alejandro Amenábar's Tesis and Abre los ojos (Open Your Eyes), Guillermo del Toro's El espinazo del diablo (The Devil's Backbone) and Marcelo Piñeyro's Plata quemada (Burnt Money). With those heavy eyebrows and strong facial features, he's natural hunk hunk burning movie-starness; what fascinates me is how these four films (a) know that and (b) subsequently twist the characters around how smoldering he is. In all of these films, he is either crazy or a murderer or both -- and yet somehow the viewer wants to let him off the hook anyway because he's, ya know, hot. Amenábar in particular uses him in this way, particularly as he is paired with phenomenal character actor Fele Martínez, who conspicuously plays the normal (read: not hot, but also not crazy) guy in both of those films. Angela and I talked once about how the relative hotness of an actor often helps us identify with a character quicker and easier, justifying decisions like casting Jennifer Connelly in House of Sand and Fog for a character who was originally plain and dumpy. (Christian Metz would, I imagine, have quite the field day with this idea. But I digress.)

My paper, however, was not about Noriega's hotness (which is what I would talk about if and when I bring him up in class this semester) but rather his Spanish-ness. The image above comes from Plata quemada, which is actually an Argentine-Spanish co-production. While that production certainly gained cachet by casting Noriega after his performance in the break-out international hit Abre los ojos, doing so also slightly changed the narrative since the script (and novel) is based on a true story about two Argentines. My paper talked about his inclusion as such and the implications of diluting national cinematic identity when you throw a random Spaniard in a main role.

Naturally, I waited until the very last minute to finish my paper, which means I finished it very early Saturday morning before the presentation that afternoon. When I checked into my hotel, I had asked if there was a place to print nearby. They happily assured me that I could print there. Great, I thought, I'll just print it, grab something for breakfast and run to the first panel. Alas, when I came down to print, I discovered that the internal server was down and I wouldn't be able to print from the regular terminals -- but that there was one behind the front desk that I could print from.

It was only after I begun that I realized I was printing on the slowest printer ever. My 12-page document took 40 minutes to print. I was kicking myself.

Here's where things get a little spooky. While waiting for the interminable print job, I tried to find the printer application so that I could speed things up. In the process, I opened up the "Recent documents" drop-down menu. Clearly, whoever had used the computer before had been viewing some -- ahem -- naughty pictures of a sort, given some of the random document names that I saw on the list. While amusing, I would otherwise not note this -- except that smack in the middle of the list, I saw the name "eduardonoriega.jpg."

Now how weirdly coincidental is that? I'm printing a paper referencing this guy on the same computer that rather recently someone else is apparently ogling him -- which I guess only proves my original claim above, that he's a hunka hunka burning movie star. I think that for the next conference I go to, I'll try writing about some other semi-obscure randomly attractive actors that I like -- Emily Watson, Ricardo Darín, Shohreh Aghdashloo, maybe Maggie Cheung? -- to see if other hotel computers can be made to bend to my whim even before I arrive. (Or maybe I should just try to channel this to happen again. Because if they all show up at my hotel at the same time... well, I might just pass out in cinematic apoplexy.)

3 comments:

CLNY said...

He's such a great actor!!

Tapioca said...

YES, he has made great movie, great actor and, incredibly good looking.
Just for the record, he is half mexican, half spaniard, or, since all mexicans are half spaniards we could say 3/4 spaniard, 1/4 mexican.
The thing is that his father was mexican. and OMG, what was god thinking when he made it? he is soooo handsome!!!

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