Pop Goes The News — Gonzalo López-Gallego proved Thursday he is one to watch.
The Spanish director debuted his gritty crime drama The Hollow Point at the Los Cabos International Film Festival in front of an audience comprised of a few journalists and a group of bused-in students.
López-Gallego seemed disappointed by the turnout — and the poorly translated Spanish subtitles — but pleased with the reaction.
Among those singing the film’s praises were two of its stars, veteran English actor Ian McShane (Deadwood, Ray Donovan) and Lynn Collins (True Blood), who saw it for the first time.
“I’ve made a lot of movies that I haven’t seen,” McShane told Pop Goes The News later, “but I was looking forward to this and it was kind of one of those experiences where it was better than what you thought.”
He added: “I thought everybody was terrific and I had a really good time watching it.”
Collins said she is typically “a little nervous” about seeing herself on screen for the first time. “But my excitement at seeing what the director and the other actors have done always supersedes my own self-judgment.”
The Hollow Point, which also stars James Belushi and John Leguizamo, is a Tarantino-esque look at what happens in a small town on the U.S./Mexico border when regular Americans get involved with the Mexican drug cartels.
A lot of blood is spilled in a lot of different ways.
McShane and Patrick Wilson play police officers battling their demons while hunting down the bad guys on the U.S. side of the border. Collins is the woman trying to figure out which man is the best of the worst.
McShane said everyone in the film is “morally conflicted, or complicated.”
That’s a good thing, Collins said, about an independent film like The Hollow Point, which was shot in less than a month in Utah.
“The smaller the budget, the more room you have to make a character realistic,” she explained, “because we all have the light and dark in us.
“It’s a daily battle to choose if you’re going to be your angels or your demons.”
Collins said fewer “cooks in the kitchen” frees actors up to “explore the nature of humanity.”
McShane, no stranger to playing a badass, agreed. “The bigger the budget the more black and white it is.”
An important character in the film is the fictional border town, described at one point as “scorched of life.”
López-Gallego told Pop Goes The News that the desolation he depicted was written into the script — and he joked that not having a budget to hire background actors helped.
That script was written by Nils Lyew, who’s a bit of a mystery in his own right.
(A Google search reveals Lyew was recognized at a UCLA Screenwriters Showcase in 2009 for a thriller entitled Lutins but The Hollow Point appears to be his only professional credit.)
“Nobody’s seen him,” said McShane. “We’d invite him to the set but he never came.”
Collins added: “I don’t even know if that’s his real name.”
“How do you pronounce it?,” McShane asked.
Pop Goes The News is a guest of the Los Cabos International Film Festival.