Volpane In Love

Decade Archive of my personal blog from 1999 to 2009.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Bruce and I will be attending brunch at Charlies this Sunday. We hope to connect with Inkshadow that day sometime and will call before we go ringing doorbells...of course, you are always welcome to join us at brunch.

In another vein, we watched Pedro Almedovar's most recent film, "Bad Education" (2004), last night.

Bruce got frustrated with the subtitles because we have a crappy telly and subsequently wanted to turn it off when we were two quarters of the way through, but on the whole it was enjoyable. I'm intrigued that it is perhaps his most overtly queer cast of characters: requisite transsexual junkie who, stand in for Almedovar as director, hustler boyfriend, straight but closeted former priest.

As usual, Almedovar packs as much as he can into his Chinese-puzzle-box-of-a-movie, from the Hitchcockian titles at the opening, to the near homages to "Cinema Paradiso" and other standards of modern European film-making, to the plot that doubles back on itself making you realize that what you assumed was flashback is really just the reinterpretation of the past the character of the director is doing with this story. Almedovar loves to blur the line between what is real and what is the fantasy of his characters and he does this with great finesse in BE. He mostly borrows story ideas and locations from his own movies and one can assume his own past. The director's home which appeared in "Matador" makes a comeback and draws comparison between the two movies. Heroin use and addiction is also an element that appears in many of his movies and features in this one as the motivation that drives the junkie to blackmail everyone, even his former childhood friend, from beyond the grave.

As another chapter of Spanish "Trash" Theater, this is a satisfying addition if not much of a diversion to previous Almedovar movies. If you want something less dramatic but more humorous, rent "Dark Habits" (1983) which was recently released on DVD with some of Almedovar's earlier films that did not have a previous American release in theaters. With DH Almedovar takes the title literally and presents you with a convent of very human nuns who take their vows of humiliation before Christ to the extreme of ridiculous names, such as Sister Dung and Sister Snake. The highjinx of his usual fare is played with a typical convent's seriousness as the lesbian Abess buys junk from prostitutes and the other nuns generally run amok taking acid and writing trashy novels about the lives of the women they take in to "save". Not his most memorable film but ironically funny while poking fun at the foibles of the Catholic Church.

Even more forgettable is his "What Have I Done to Deserve This?" (1984) which presages "Women on the Verge" (1988) by investigating many of Almedovar's themes of family discord. A housewife living in a too small apartment with her family, pimps her youngest son to pay for his dental work and then eventually murders her oaf of a husband as he realizes dreams of reuniting with a famous opera singer he'd met in Germany years before. The murder is blithely covered up with the unsuspecting help of the friendly prostitute downstairs and the telekinetic daughter of the seamstress upstairs. The mother-in-law moves out with the older son, never suspecting the housewife's nefarious deeds. On the whole, this movie is presented too lightly to flesh out the implications of the various events but as a precursor to his later film it does reveal a developing director's mind and style.

As you can see, I've been indulging in Pedro...