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    End of the Century Is a Hypnotic Gay Romantic Drama

    By Gary Kramer–

    End of the Century, opening September 27 at the Opera Plaza and Shattuck cinemas, is writer/director Lucio Castro’s absolutely hypnotic romance. Ocho (Juan Barberini) hooks up with Javi (Ramon Pujol) in Barcelona. Their tryst is erotic, but it becomes something more complicated when Javi confesses: “We’ve met before.” Cut to twenty years earlier … End of the Century unfolds slowly, deliberately, and it plays with time, memory, and imagination in ways that will provoke viewers. It also features a scene of the guys dancing that is pure magic.

    In separate interviews, the openly gay Castro and Pujol spoke with me for the San Francisco Bay Times about their remarkable film.

    Gary M. Kramer: Lucio, can you talk about your film’s structure? It’s very deliberate.

    Lucio Castro: The structure came organically. I surprised myself as I typed it. It may feel special, but it was how I wanted to think of these two characters. It started with an archetypal beginning of a novel: a man arrives in town. I had this character in the city alone for 12 minutes with no dialogue. He comes to Barcelona and does what any tourist does. He visits places and gets horny. He starts cruising on Grindr and then he sees this guy and he likes something about him. They finally meet and after sex they speak. Straight couples have cheese and wine and then have sex. Gay couples—first they have sex and then they have cheese and wine. Then I thought: What if they met before? So, I went back to show how they met.

    Gary M. Kramer: Ramon, what did you think of the script when you read End of the Century?

    Ramon Pujol: The script talked about things I found interesting—that we are all connected to and are a part of everyone’s life. Choosing whether (or not) to have a long-term relationship, or kids—it’s something we all think about. It was very interesting and well written. I didn’t worry about the trickiness. It was clear. There is something about the ambiguity—that the characters don’t look different in the different time periods. When you think about yourself in the past you don’t think of a younger you. This ambiguity is important; it’s about relationships and time and how we relate to others.

    Gary M. Kramer: Lucio, can you describe how you presented the guys? The film is very stylized.

    Lucio Castro: [For] the beginning of the film, I liked the idea of Ocho being part of the city, the architecture, and spaces—he’s framed on the balcony or getting lost in a maze, a labyrinth. A new city feels like that. So can love, especially the beginning, when you are going with it, not knowing the destination. I wanted to present Ocho first, and then [the guys] together. The film is static because I feel the more [motionless] the camera is, there is more nuance in the performance and how the characters react and interact.

    Gary M. Kramer: Ramon, how did you work on developing your on-screen relationship with Juan/Ocho? There is a real chemistry between you guys.  

    Ramon Pujol: We did nothing in particular. We met the day before shooting started. Sometimes you have that chemistry and sometimes you have to pretend or build it. When we looked at each other, it worked. We were focused. It just happened. You can’t [force] it, but when you feel it, you have to use it. That’s what we did. There’s no secret. It’s like meeting people. You meet someone at a bar and there is magic that happens. The same is true with actors. What I focused on was how I related to him. That may be the chemistry—how do you feel in each part of a relationship with someone?

    Gary M. Kramer: Ramon, what do you think the film is saying about the past and future, that we are different people at different points in our lives and our priorities change? 

    Ramon Pujol: I think there’s a message of not taking yourself so seriously. If you pay too much attention to what you love, or want, life takes you in a different direction. Enjoy what happens and be happy with what you get. Try to get what you want, but don’t get mad if you don’t. Be honest with where you are, and what you feel. I don’t know if this is the message of the movie or life. There is a point where nothing is so important that it gives you a feeling of nostalgia or a happy sadness about what could have happened if … . There are plenty of ifs in anyone’s life, but maybe this is what relates us to the film or touches us.

    Gary M. Kramer: Lucio, there is a line about a magical connection vs. a rational one. This to me is the crux of the film. Do you think the relationship between Javi and Ocho is magical or rational?

    Lucio Castro: I don’t have much to say about that. There’s a rational and magical part to a connection. I like this person for this, this, and this, but these other reasons you can’t explain. You said it better than me.  

    © 2019 Gary M. Kramer

    Gary M. Kramer is the author of “Independent Queer Cinema: Reviews and Interviews,” and the co-editor of “Directory of World Cinema: Argentina.” Follow him on Twitter @garymkramer