Review: ‘Alhambra Daydreams’

Placing Spain's finest living flamenco singer into Spain's finest monument, exhilarating docu is a vehicle for camera-shy Enrique Morente and his commitment to taking flamenco into new areas without severing it from its roots in this aud-friendly homage to Andalucian culture. Flamenco-friendly territories and music-based fest sidebars are certs.

Placing Spain’s finest living flamenco singer — with some if his high-profile friends — into Spain’s finest monument, exhilarating docu “Alhambra Daydreams” is a vehicle for normally camera-shy Enrique Morente, whose commitment to taking flamenco into new areas without severing it from its roots is on full display in this aud-friendly homage to Andalucian culture. Flamenco-friendly territories and music-based fest sidebars are certs.

Held together by its focus on barrier-breaking — between musical styles and between Andalucia’s past and present, as well as between Christianity and Islam — the docu combines a bio of the stocky, unprepossessing Morente with sequences shot in the beautiful palace. Superbly performed music, mostly written for the project, ranges from traditional “cante jondo” to an ethereal flamenco-jazz mix and even hard-hitting rock courtesy of German chanteuse Uta Lemper. Modern dance pieces from Israel Galvan and Blanca Li stand out on the visual side. Morente’s lyrics often are adaptations of Andalucian writer Federico Garcia Lorca, whose piano is dusted off for a piece sung by Morente’s daughter Estrella. Musicianship is stunning. Jose Luis Lopez Linares’ lensing uses a range of often effective techniques, but cannot always avoid a travel-docu feel.

Alhambra Daydreams

Spain

Production

An Atico Siete/Filmoanova/Toma 27 production with the participation of Canal Plus, Canal Sur. (International sales: Atico Siete, Granada, Spain). Executive producer, Moises Salama. Directed, written, edited by Jose Sanchez Montes.

Crew

Camera (color, B&W, DV-to-35mm), Jose Luis Lopez Linares, Miguel Sales Lopes; editors, Francisco L. Rivera PKK, Rafael Moya Cuadros, Montes; music, Enrique Morente, Isidro Munoz; , art director, Montes. Reviewed at Alphaville, Madrid, Nov. 1, 2005. Running time: 92 MIN.

With

Enrique Morente, Pat Metheny, Ute Lemper, Tomatito, Cheb Khaled, Blanca Li, Estrella Morente, Israel Galvan, Juan Habichuela.

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