This latest installment of the American Cinematheque’s Recent Spanish Cinema series opens with Princesses (Princesas), from director Fernando León de Aranoa (Mondays in the Sun). In this unflinching yet surprisingly warm portrait of female camaraderie, a middle-class housewife (Candela Peña, who won a Spanish Goya award for her performance) moonlights as a prostitute and strikes up an unlikely friendship with a young immigrant woman also working the streets. In The Method (El Método Gronholm), from director Marcelo Piñeyro, a group of applicants for an executive-level position at a multinational corporation are thrown into a room together as they await their interviews. Except it turns out the waiting is the interview, as they are pitted against one another in a series of psychological tests that push their ambitions to the limits. Darkly comic and bitingly unsettling in its depiction of what people are willing to go through and inflict upon others, the film picked up a Goya for Best Screenplay. On the same bill is Seven Virgins (Siete Vírgenes), directed by Alberto Rodriguez, which easily shifts between breezy teen knockabout and weightier drama in telling the story of a teenage boy trying to squeeze in as much living as he can while out on a weekend pass from a juvenile reform center. Among the other films screening are director Montxo Armendáriz’s haunting Obaba, Spain’s submission this year for the Academy Awards, and Isabel Coixet’s The Secret Life of Words (La Vida Secreta de las Palabras), with Sarah Polley and Tim Robbins in a study of emotional isolation. (American Cinematheque at the Egyptian, June 1-4,

—Mark Olsen

LA Weekly