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Review: ‘Flamenco, Flamenco’

Carlos Saura Dazzles With Doc on Dance

Above: Carlos Saura's "Flamenco, Flamenco."

The great thing about the San Diego Latino Film Festival's Cinema En Tu Idioma is that it affords filmgoers a chance to catch a film they might have missed at the March festival by bringing it back for a week-long encore engagement. This month the featured film is Carlos Saura's jaw-droppingly gorgeous dance documentary, "Flamenco, Flamenco" (opening October 5 for one week only at UltraStar Mission Valley at Hazard Center).

At the 2011 San Diego Latino Film Festival, Carlos Saura's "Flamenco, Flamenco" wowed audiences and defied simple categorization. Yes it's a documentary but not a conventional talking heads one. It's a documentary in the sense that it's not a fictional narrative. It explores the history and tradition of flamenco dance and music. Yet it does more than merely document. It's a stunning work of art. Saura places dancers and musicians on an almost bare stage. Then he adds gorgeous lighting and set design but employs mostly static wide shots and minimal cuts. This allows the beauty and power of flamenco to take center stage.

Saura proved how effective his approach to dance could be when he filmed the flamenco ballet "Blood Wedding" in 1981. For "Flamenco, Flamenco" he kicks up the style and visual luster to deliver a film that is so vivid that it stands out in bold relief in ways digital 3D can never compete.

Less is definitely more in Saura's capable hands and "Flamenco, Flamenco" (in Spanish with English subtitles) is simply breathtaking and you need to see it on the big screen to fully appreciate its spectacle and artistry.

Companion viewing: "Blood Wedding," "Carmen," "El Amor Brujo"

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