The Boyfriend of the Week
June 25 , 2004
It all started a couple of weeks ago, when I was having a hankering for a good thriller and finding myself thoroughly uninspired by the options I was turning up at Netflix.com. Just as I was about to give up, I clicked on a link for a movie called "The Devil's Backbone," and read the description for it. It was a ghost story -- that sounded good. But, it was a foreign film, a Spanish film, and while I often enjoy foreign films, I have trouble watching them on DVD or video because when I'm at home, in my living room, I find it hard to focus. It seems like I watch a lot of TV and movies, right? But one thing to keep in mind about me (especially when I'm criticizing a movie you love) is that I'm not usually paying all that much attention to what's on. I'm up and down, doing chores, working on Top Secret projects, occasionally even reading my book or tinkering with a crossword puzzle. So, you can see why I might not gravitate to a foreign movie -- there's no doodling when you have to keep your eyes focused on the subtitles the whole time. If I rent a foreign film, I know that means I'll have to SIT STILL for 90-120 minutes. Which, for me, can be next to impossible.
Unless, that is, the movie is awesome. Or, even better, if it stars someone as totally gorgeous as this week's Boyfriend, Eduardo Noriega.
The first moment he came on-screen, I was totally floored. You know how in cartoons when a character is amazed, his jaw drops open and tumbles all the way down to the floor? That was me. At least, it would've been me if I'd been in an animated short. What was confusing was that I spent the first several minutes completely convinced he was Harry Connick Jr. incognito. I kept waiting for him to break into a Big Band song and blow his cover, and was puzzled when that didn't actually come about. But wait, I thought, does Hank speak fluent Spanish? Is that even possible? No, I quickly deduced, this guy only looks like Harry Connick Jr. A LOT like Harry Connick Jr. But the real Hank Jr. has probably never pursued a career in Spanish film -- because why would he need to? Though I felt pretty confident in this conclusion, I did promptly race over to the computer to look the movie up. Sure enough, the actor's name was given as Eduardo Noriega. And Noriega is too sensitive a name choice for me to believe Harry made it up as an alias, you know? I mean, in that case, why not just go with "Fidel" and call it a career? Or "Bin Laden," for that matter. Fidel Bin Laden, even. Fidel Herbert Walker Bin Laden.
So, no, it had to be some other guy, obviously. A doppleganger. Perhaps even a clone. Or a twin separated at birth -- ummmm, like 7 years later. Okay, so maybe not that last one. But the more I watched him, the more it became clear -- he might look just like Harry Connick Jr., but Eduardo Noriega is his own sexy, sexy man.
Anyway, while I was solving this fascinating cute-boy mystery, I was also growing absolutely enthralled by this film. It's a wonderfully made, thoroughly creepy movie. Although, boy, it sure can be hard to concentrate on ghosts and mysteries when a face like Eduardo's keeps jumping in the way. Just when you're about to shiver and yell "Eeeeek!" Eduardo pops on-screen and you find yourself thinking about smooching him instead of going to bed with the lights on. Or, smooching him while in bed with the lights on, depending on how NC-17 you want to go here.
It's partly the eyes. And the hair. And the upper body. And the lower body. It's all good, really. But for me, there's just something about his lips that's making me bananas. I usually don't like big, soft lips -- they seem like they'll make for sloppy, smooshy kisses, you know what I mean? But Eduardo -- you know them lips can kiss. It's in the way he smiles. The way his mouth moves when he talks. Oh, and, of course, it's also in the way he does kissing scenes, of which there are several good ones in this thriller.
Oddly, Eduardo's character is actually a bad guy. He has a few moments of tenderness towards the two women in the film, but for the most part, those moment are far overshadowed the fact he's actually a cold-hearted bastard.
And yet, I found myself unable to hold this against him. I mean, in all actuality, Eduardo was a truly inspired casting choice for the role, because the very last thing you expect when you see that sweet face is an inside of evil. It's genius, really. It's like casting Frankie Muniz as a serial killer -- it would be perfect because who would ever suspect that cute little kid as being a maniacal devil worshiper? I'm obviously not the only one who thinks this way, too, because the next Eduardo Noriega film I watched, another creepy one called "Tesis" ("Thesis"), featured him in a very similar kind of role.
"Tesis" is about a young woman who is working on her thesis for film school. She's decided to write about violence in movies -- why it's so popular, what draws people to it, etc. While doing research, she comes across a particularly disturbing example. It's a "snuff" film -- a film in which someone is murdered in front of the camera. At first, Thesis Lady thinks it can't possibly be real. But when she shows it to a fellow student, he immediately recognizes the victim as a woman who disappeared a few years before and whose body was never found. Thesis Lady is freaked out and wants to back away from the whole project, but Fellow Student's interest in finding out the truth, coupled with Thesis Lady's own fascination with violence (a fascination she insists she doesn't have, but which viewers can tell she's just in denial about), ends up sucking her back in. The two students set out to follow the clues and find the killer. Only, nothing is as it seems, especially when the suspects turn out to be a surprising bunch of innocuous-seeming fellow university students and professors.
Eduardo plays a friend of the girl killed in the snuff film, only there's just something a little off about his interest in Thesis Lady's project. Fellow Student suspects him right away, but Thesis Lady is torn. Eduardo is so damn gorgeous -- how can he be a sick serial killer? You see what I mean? Frankie Muniz! ¡Perfecto!
Anyway, you want to be freaked out, here's another dandy Spanish film for you.
Desperate for a movie that featured Eduardo in a good-guy role, I next went for "Nadie Conoce a Nadie" ("Nobody Knows Anybody"). In this one, likewise an enthralling thriller (damn, the Spanish make good movies!), Eduardo plays a crossword puzzler writer (I'm in love already!) who receives a cryptic message threatening him with death if certain words don't appear in his puzzles. His investigation leads him to believe he's an unwitting player in a cruel game masterminded by those closest to him, and it's all happening during Holy Week in Seville, a time when freaky hooded religious nuts are all over the place doing their freaky hooded religious cult ritual things. That makes for a disturbing mood, made all the more disturbing by the fact someone is actually considering killing the most gorgeous man ever born in Spain.
I ran out of time for foreign film watching right after this last one, and so haven't had a chance to see any of Eduardo's other movies. For those of you interested, you might have the most luck locating "Abre Los Ojos" ("Open Your Eyes") which was popular a couple of years ago when the American remake "Vanilla Sky" came out. But there are plenty of other options out there too. Eduardo's been in 22 films altogether (all Spanish -- no crossovers to Hollywood yet), and if the three I've seen are typical of his work, then you can hardly go wrong choosing one at random. The man can act. And hot damn, does he ever look good in blue jeans.
Now that it's time for the biographical section of this write-up, I want you guys to stop for a moment and appreciate the fact that the only fan sites out there about Eduardo are in Spanish. This made researching him doubly difficult, because first I had to find the web sites, and then I had to decipher them. I could've cheated and used an on-line translation service -- but where's the fun in that? However, I do want to warn you that I'm not fluent, and when I couldn't translate something, I just made stuff up. Also, there were a few things about Eduardo that I could translate, but which actually made no sense in English. Watch for those in a minute.
Eduardo Noriega was born in Santander, Spain (the capital of Spain's Cantabria region) on August 1, 1973 (which makes him a mere four months older than I). He is the youngest of five brothers, and his parents passed away several years ago. Eduardo was always interested in the arts, even as a child, and actually started out focusing on music as a potential path. After a few years of serious study (piano, voice, and kazoo) (note: I made up the kazoo part), he decided he wanted to try a change of pace. Initially, he thought becoming a contortionist might be the career for him. (Note: I made up the contortionist part). But when he stumbled into an acting class instead, he quickly discovered he had a knack for pretend. He moved to Madrid, enrolled in the School of Dramatic Art and very quickly was picked up by some famous Spanish directors, like Alejandro Amenábar. "Thesis" was the movie that truly made him a star in his native country, and since then, he's had steady work in films. In his free time, Eduardo likes to juggle monkeys and set things on fire. (Note: Not really.)
As for his personal life, Eduardo is apparently unattached (except, of course, for that cosmic connection he has to me). One of the fan sites I found had a lengthy list of trivia about Eduardo which I found entertaining, so I thought I'd share a few tidbits with you. (Note: I'm not making any of this stuff up.) Eduardo's favorite foreign directors include Stanley Kubrick and Mike Leigh. His favorite movie is "A Clockwork Orange" (Kubrick). His favorite foreign actors are Ewan McGregor (good taste, this guy!) and Juliette Binoche. He loves reading, watching movies, and playing soccer, enjoys listening to Led Zeppelin, and prefers his clothing "extensive and comfortable." Extensive clothing? On a guy like Eduardo, I'm afraid my personal preference is for minimal clothing. But that's just me. And my lust for biceps.
And now for the parts that made no sense. His weakness is given as "the racing." The racing of cars? The racing of pulses? The racing of horses? I know not. He detests "the press rose and other stupidities." The press rose? Dried flowers? Journalists who smell nice? I agree that a rose-smelling journalist would be kind of stupid. But I confess I have no idea what Eduardo is talking about here.
And the clincher, and quite possibly my new favorite unintelligible expression: when asked what his main virtue was, he answered, and I translate literally, "readier than the hunger of the dog of the blind one." More ready than a blind man's hungry dog? What the eschew-obfuscation does that mean?
Oh, who cares? I love it. I love him. I love his movies. I love Spain. I love messy hair and smoochable lips. I love scary movies and smart thrillers. I love Eduardo. I love Eduardo. ¡Eduardo, te quiero!
MacGyver Factor Score: 96.254%. Okay, so, points off because while I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing el Ed in his Spanish movies, I really really really need him to move to the United States and start a career over here. Not just because I like it when the Boyfriends are close, but because, well, when was the last time you saw an American-made thriller that was actually thrilling? The vast majority of American thrillers are major disappointments -- unoriginal, full of stupid "thrilling" music at all the wrong moments (for more of that rant, see next week's Boyfriend write-up), boring, boring, boring. Eduardo, Hollywood needs you! *I* need you! And I promise, you would be very happy here. Everywhere you went, people would mistake you for Harry Connick Jr. and throw their underpants at you! Does that not sound like heaven to a young stud like yourself? I mean, does it get any better than underpants?
Go West, young man! Go West!