Friday, August 04, 2006

Looking for Palladin

Last week V stumbled across a film crew near La Merced in Antigua, making what we have since learned is the first full-length feature to be shot entirely in Guatemala since Green Jade back in 1935.

Looking for Palladin is an indie movie with a budget of less than $1m conceived by writer-director Andrzej Krakowski. It tells the story of a young man called Josh Ross, who comes to Guatemala to find a retired old Oscar-winner called Jack Palladin, played by Ben Gazzara (pictured). Talia Shire (of Rocky and Godfather fame) is also on the cast list, which includes Mexican thesps Pedro Armendaris Jr., Angélica Aragón y Michelle Manterola, and the Guatemalan comedians Jimmy y Samuel Morales. They will do most of the location shooting in Antigua with some additional scenes set in the capital, including Aurora international aiport. (They will need to be quick as the departure lounge was being demolished around V when she passed through last week and consequently she was able to drive some hard bargains in the temporarily doomed retail units!) Filming is set to wrap at the end of this month.

While I was over there myself in June I watched Adventure Girl starring Joan Lowell..."as herself". Made in '34 with grateful assistance from then dictator Jorge Ubico, this B movie (recommended to me by Scott) charts the adventures of a young American girl who reaches Antigua via the Rio Dulce and there declares the ruins of the cathedral to be an ancient Maya temple. For the sacrilege of trying to make off with an idol she finds buried there she is sentenced to death by churrasco, but escapes the crowds of Indians (who are too busy dancing around in masks and playing their marimbas) by running through what looks like the arch at Chichicastenango. All good fun, if somewhat geographically and politically incorrect.


scott said...

I'm very interested in seeing that film.

Actually, there have been several features filmed and directed in Guatemala in the past few years. El Silencio de Neto (around 2000) is regarded as the first guatemalan feature. Donde Acaban Los Caminos and La Casa Enfrente (pretty brutal) were made in or around 2003-2004, and Las Cruces is out right now.

haven't had much time to post here but as always am enjoying very much your blog. Lots of good stuff.

rudygiron said...

Diablogico, where can I rent a copy of Adventure Girl. I would love to see the movie. PLEASEEEEE, let us know.

scott said...

I'm not sure where you can rent it, but I got my copy from Sinister Cinema. It's a hoot. There is also a Tarzan film that may have been shot at the same time--great scenes of Rio Dulce, the arch at Chichi and an abandoned sugar mill in's a pretty fascinating article about it:

I got my copy through Amazon.

jessica faye said...

I can't wait to see this film. i have been trying to find it, but dont know where to get it. i was in antigua, guatemala when they were filming this and met a few of the actors. im pretty excited about it!

Anonymous said...

CASA CAPOLAVORO fue contactada y requerida como diseñadora y fabricante de los trajes que uso David Moscow en la mencionada película " Looking for Palladin". La srita. Jennifer Mielke acudió a nosotros por referencias de varias personas de la iniciativa privada que entusiastamente colaboraban con el ""gran evento"" que se llevaría a cabo en Guatemala.
Después de vendernos muy astuta y melodramáticamente la precaria situación financiera del proyecto fílmico y acudiendo a nuestra "bondad y patriotismo" pues colaboraríamos a la divulgación y promoción de nuestro país, de manera ingenua accedimos a donar sin costo alguno la fabricación a la medida de 3 trajes para el protagonista de la mencionada película. Cabe mencionar que no solo los querían regalados sino que de la mas fina calidad de tela y manufactura, ofreciéndonos a cambio que el nombre de nuestra empresa de confección fina saldría mencionada en todo momento en los créditos y que también incluirían en "detrás de las cámaras" un reportaje del minucioso proceso de manufactura que implicaba la delicada fabricación de los trajes "a la medida"
Además de aportar 3 trajes de un costo de us.$1,1150.00 cada uno o sea un aporte de us$3450.00 además les fabricamos insignias bordadas para ciertos uniformes de policías y les conseguimos las indumentarias de policías originales. También les dimos corbatas finas de seda natural para el protagonista y otra serie de favores y servicios que les economizaron no solo mucho dinero sino problemas y todo esto a cambio de mencionarnos en los créditos y siempre que tuvieran oportunidad de hacer referencia a la calidad de nuestro trabajo.
Al día de hoy 2 años después nunca se nos ha mencionado en ninguno de los reportajes que se han publicado del rodaje y jamás ha aparecido nuestro nombre en ningún lugar. Escribo este comentario pues es decepcionante ser correspondido de tal forma por un supuesto equipo de gente "profesional" y que lamentablemente no resultaron ser mas que unos auténticos OPORTUNISTAS Y MENTIROSOS.
Federico Figueroa
Gerente General
Casa Capolavoro
Hand Tailored Clothing and Costum Shop

ROSS.ALP said...

Ben Gazzara: Lost or Found?

Andrzej Krakowski, writer-director of Looking for Palladin co-starring Ben Gazzara and David Moscow as hunted and hunter in a motion-picture biz drama, locates his two complex characters and their characterizations, in a small town in Guatemala in this visually gorgeous, subtly arresting story of an ex-patriot film star connecting, after half a lifetime, with his stepson.

Both men, Josh Ross (Moscow) as the hotshot Hollywood-agent son, and Palladin (Gazzara), a been-there-done-that ex-superstar, confront convoluted pasts they thought long ago were old business and without consequence. They are wrong on both counts.

Over the film’s arc, Moscow, using a hands-free telephone that makes him look like he’s talking to himself, goes through a transformation from callow youth to older-but-kinder pro, a role this talented actor plays with perfect pitch. In many ways Moscow is as much a star here as Gazzara, who plays the retired Oscar-winner-cum—cook Palladin, a man fed up with a world of impersonal, out-of-control technological momentum and what that does to the individual and collective souls of Millenial man. Moscow’s, intense, vulnerable characterization of Josh takes us through the greening of this super-now know-it-all from arrogant putz to sympathetic mensch, often providing an energy and fervor Gazzara husbands carefully to help him make his role real. It’s great to see this venerable Hollywood mainstay back in a role he plays best: himself.

“Palladin” was recently adjudged a double winner in the
Orlando Hispanic Film Festival, grabbing first prizes as both Best Feature Film and Best Ensemble Cast. The Ensemble award is hardly surprising, given the line-up that Director Krakowski, Producer Mahyad Tousi and Executive Producer Majka Elczewska seemed to pull out of a hat. Talia Shire, Vincent Pastore and Pedro Armendáriz, Jr., like Moscow, help Gazzara out when his energy occasionally flags. In fact, so does what looks like the entire town of Antigua, where the film was shot.

“This was truly a collaborative effort,” Krakowski said in a recent interview. “The Guatemalan government and local townspeople gave us so much help we often had more locations, extras, props, camera positions—you name it— than we needed. But it was probably the most fun I’ve ever had shooting a film.” The Polish writer-director has more than a few features to compare this one to, including “Eminent Domain,” starring Donald Sutherland and Anne Archer, Triumph of the Spirit with Willem DeFoe and Portrait of A Hitman, starring Krakowski’s fellow countryman, Jack Palance.

You have to pay close attention to this film if you want to plumb its depths. The plotline and characters can be hard to identify if you look away for a moment. We’re never sure how the young wannabe-writers club that haunts the bistro where Palladin is chef, got there and exactly what they’re going to do with the script they’re struggling to write. And why doesn’t Krakowski pay off two very interesting characters, the town priest and the photographer the film starts out with? But if you can take these inoffensive miscues as thumbnail atmospheric vignettes you’ll be rewarded.

Talia Shire (or her director) seems to have struggled to find a consistent constellation of choices with which to portray the waitress Rosino, Palladin’s love interest and Hollywood-hating protectress. We glimpse instances of the Shire skill, especially in close-quarters exchanges with Gazzara, but the character sometimes seems not as fleshed out as it could have been, never establishes Rosino’s complete arc. Frankly, this reviewer guesses it’s more a glitch in the writer-director’s vision than confusion in Shire’s portrayal. Hard to tell for sure.

End o’ the day, the film is well worth the price of admission and more. You will be seeing the work of a talented but underappreciated writer/director, the post-1968-Poland refugee Andrzej Krakowski, who should get kudos when Looking for Palladin goes into national and international distribution. It’s a good guess that’s what Krakowski himself is looking for.

—Allan Ross