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[whitespace] 'Not Love, Just Frenzy'
It's in His Kiss: Javier Albala and Gustave Salmerón move in for a kiss in 'Not Love Just Frenzy.'

Mostly Frenzy

Almodovar has nothing to fear from piddling Spanish sex thriller

By Richard von Busack

EVEN THUMPER THE RABBIT would be hard pressed to find something good to say about Not Love, Just Frenzy. Alfonso Albacete, Miguel Bardem and David Menkes' 1996 Spanish thriller/comedy/erotic/something or other, mistakenly shipped here for exhibition, has but one claim to fame: a nanosecond-long performance by Penelope Cruz. Otherwise, it's a garden-variety soft-core sex-and-murder picture, not all that different from what you'd catch on the USA channel. Though there are several gay characters and an evil lesbian, the story isn't amped enough for camp. (The lesbian has the most characteristic line, though: she tells a male hustler, "You were born to sell yourself, and you're in too deep.") The comedy relief offers a good example of what John Waters calls "bad bad-taste"--namely a herd of tall drag queens shuffling in and out of the picture, making risqué jokes about the action. Do drag queens still dress as Jackie O. this late in the day? Maybe in Spain.

In some respects, Not Love, Just Frenzy anticipates this summer's worst-trailered movie, Coyote Ugly (the big budget redo of the immortal Cocktail, only with six women instead of one Tom Cruise). A trio of girls nurse their aching hearts as they work and lounge around at the gay Madrid nightclub named Frenesí. The three are roommates: the daffy art student Maria (Beatriz Santiago); the loyal Yeye (Ingrid Rubio), who still pines over her lost lover, Max; and Mónica (Cayetana Guillén Cuervo), the tough, promiscuous bitch who is looking for work as an actress. Around this trinity hover a few loitering men. Alberto (Gustave Salmerón), Yeye's gay buddy, falls for a trick who turns out to have a wife and a bawling baby. Max (Nancho Novo) dumps Yeye and goes to work as a male prostitute, a la Richard Gere in American Gigolo. Luis (the Nosferatu-faced Javier Manrique), a dogged Barcelona cop, suspects Max of murder.

The mystery plot is, effectively, zilch, brimming with coincidences and unlikeliness and ending with a hostage scene that gets far too brutal for a swirl of cotton candy like this. As for the three girls, any one good moment of communication among them would sort out their dilemmas. Max moves in on the trio because they're desperate for a housemate, but if spaces in group households are going begging, why does Yeye persist in living with a woman like Mónica, who seems out to screw her and hurt her? And whatever happened to the rule that all the members of a household have to approve a new tenant? Since a good portion of the film depicts the crowd dancing at the Ferensí, it may be that the nightclub is the most important thing in the picture, lending this piddling version of Almodovar some kind of flash, motion and hipness. It'd be better, then, to spend the price of a ticket to this movie in a nightclub, where there's a better chance of meeting people prettier, brighter and more amusing than the cast of Not Love, Just Frenzy.

Not Love, Just Frenzy (Unrated; 125 min.), directed and written by Alfonso Albacete, Miguel Bardem and David Menkes, photographed by Nestor Calvo and starring Beatriz Santiago, Ingrid Rubio, Cayetana Guillén Cuervo and Gustave Salmerón, opens Friday at the Towne Theater in San Jose.

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From the June 22-28, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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