A movie log formerly known as Bookishness / By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Pedro Almodóvar, 1988)

Pedro Almodóvar's brightly colored farce Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown put him on the map as an auteur to be reckoned with. It's a grand stew of a film that takes the premise of Jean Cocteau's serious play La Voix Humaine and turns it into a nod to classic Hollywood screwball comedy touched with feminism and the brand of liberated hedonism peculiar to post-Franco Spain. It's also a superb product of the gay sensibility, to the point that it's easy to imagine the roles of Pepa (Carmen Maura), Candela (Maria Barranco), Marisa (Rossy de Palma), and Lucia (Julieta Serrano) played by drag queens. But although it verges on camp -- Pepa, a soap opera actress, dubs Joan Crawford's voice in a Spanish release of Nicholas Ray's perhaps unintentionally camp Western Johnny Guitar (1954) -- it has at its core Almodóvar's genuine affection for his characters. The gloriously sunny decor of the film is the product of set decorators José Salcedo and Félix Murcia, and the costumes are by José María de Cossío. The cinematographer is Almodóvar's frequent collaborator José Luis Alcaine.

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