Americano (2006) from Tuna and Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

 We disagreed completely on this film. On thumb up, one down.


Tuna's notes

Americano (2005) is a Romantic Comedy/coming of age film that takes place in Pamplona during the feast of San Fermin - best known for the running of the bulls. Chris (Joshua Jackson) is a recent college graduate traveling through Europe with his friends, Timm Sharp and Ruthanna Hopper. Each of the four must decide where they want to go with their lives. Timm Sharp is tired of exotic sights, and anxious to return home and start his career. Ruthanna Hopper is a little more open, but refuses to tolerate what she views as the torture of the bulls. Chris is not at all sure he is ready for the safe corporate grind, and he finds a great reason to stay in the person of a beautiful, vivacious actress (Leonor Varela). The four begin an adventure together that includes a bullfight, the running of the bulls, and a backpacking trip. Chris keeps his thoughts, both written and illustrated, in a journal. Dennis Hopper, as an expatriate bar owner (the Americano), does his usual strange routine, but I suppose is there as a possible role model for Chris.

Leonor Varela loved her part, and it showed. She was absolutely irresistible. Spain itself was also an important character, providing more production value than a $100M production could afford to buy. The music was also a strong member of the cast. The director avoided Spanish musical clichés, and presented a score that people would dance to in Spain. It had Latin rhythms, but also the Middle Eastern rhythms that are common in parts of Spain. Maria Conchita Alonzo contributed one humorous song to the effort.

Americano was exhibited at many festivals, and was finally released on DVD a couple of days after it got a one theater mini-release in New York. While I feel sorry for the filmmakers that they couldn't secure a theatrical release, I hope they clean up with this rather nice DVD.



  • a "making of" featurette

  • a special on the music.

  • the transfer is anamorphically enhanced


Joshua Jackson - bum

Leonor Varela - breasts

Ruthanna Hopper - one breast from side/rear.

Scoop's notes

Tuna and I disagreed strongly on this one. He liked it, and I felt it was nearly a complete waste of my time. The damned thing doesn't even really have a script, just a premise: some recent college grads are in Europe for a last fling before assuming adult responsibilities, and some of them are reconsidering their commitment to join the rat race. That's pretty much the entire script. The filler was some exotic adventures and some laid-back "winging it," and the dialogue basically just consisted of repeating the premise again and again in different words. "Why are you here, son?" "Oh, I'm having a last fling before my job starts, but I'm reconsidering whether to join the rat race." Dennis Hopper is on hand as an American expatriate club owner, and he delivers some dialogue which is only peripherally related to the plot, and sounds to have been not only improvised, but also influenced by quantities of mind-altering chemicals which must have been vast even by Hopper's 1960's standards. When the star (Joshua Jackson) is not mouthing his own trite dialogue, he's keeping a journal of drawings and poetry which seem to be the work of a 13 year old girl. Of course, that may be because those girls seem to be the target market for this film. The IMDb ratings show that people's rating of this film is inversely proportional to their age, and directly proportional to the number of vaginas they possess, much like a Degas painting:


Demographic group: IMDB score
Age less than 18 8.9
Age 18-29 7.6
Age 30-44 6.7
Age 45 or more 5.4
Men 7.1
Women 9.4

The complete lack of a script is matched with some very poor cinematography. It's artistically appealing, but technically inept. The landscapes are composed nicely, but are often out of focus, as are the faces of the principals. The action scenes are shot and edited so confusingly that the characters have to recap what has just happened with dialogue. Leonor Varela is pretty enough, but is almost always blurred, or grainy, or improperly lit, or half out of the frame, or shaking in a hand-held shot.

Varela's allegedly Spanish character inexplicably speaks English with an accent characteristic of South American Spanish! ("Are jew coming?", e.g. I have spent months and months in Spain, and even more time in South America, and I never heard any Spaniard pronounce "you" this way, but many if not most South Americans do.) I guess the problem was that the actress, who does speak Spanish, also speaks perfectly unaccented American English, and her natural English would not have been in character, so she fabricated an accent she was familiar with. (Her father is Chilean, her mother French.) 

There are some plusses in the film, and I suppose Tuna responded to these:

  • The camera is in love with both Joshua Jackson and Leonor Varela. Not only are they physically attractive, but they both come off as very likeable, easy-going, genuine people. Joshua gives off that nice-guy vibe of a young Tom Selleck, and Leonor has a kooky, energetic free-spirit thing goin' for her. Their romance is credible and sometimes fun to watch.
  • Part of the film is an actual bullfight - not a staged re-enactment, but the real thing in real time, filmed with the permission of the bullfighter. Another portion is the actual "running of the bulls," with cast members actually participating on camera. If you have never seen these events, this will open your eyes.
  • The film has an eclectic and sensuous sound track of very appealing Spanish music.

The Critics Vote ...

The People Vote ...

  • Box Office: a weird story. This quote from an IMDb message board: "AMERICANO opened in New York on Friday, 14 April in exactly one very small cinema, the 13th St. Quad. There were absolutely no print ads in any of the four big NY newspapers. Only one very small box for the Quad Cinema listed AMERICANO (no actors' name or any sort of credits) as one of four films being shown there. Why did they even bother releasing it in theaters at all? The fact that the DVD is scheduled to come out 18 April is just the final nail in the coffin."
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our own guideline:

  • A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
  • B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.


Based on this description, Tuna says, "This is a B-.  Even if you are not fond of coming of age films or romantic comedies, you may well enjoy this one." Scoop calls it a C-, and found sitting through it to be an arduous experience, even though he very much likes coming-of-age films.

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