Friday, September 29, 2006

Almodovar


Pedro Almodovar has a new movie coming out this November. Fucking awesome. You can watch the Preview for it here. It’s exciting when he makes new movies, because he’s an undisputed master at the zenith of his career. Unlike other once radical film vets who have more or less settled into a cozy style that makes you feel they could be directing in their sleep, Almodovar is still vibrant and dangerous. He could go anywhere with his movies, and it seems certain that he isn’t done breaking new ground. I absolutely love his early films, chaotic and beautiful. Brilliant works of pop cultural excess with revolutionary potential like Pepi, Luci, Bom and Other Girls on the Heap, Labyrinth of Passion, and What Have I Done To Deserve This which are some of his all-time greatest. Trashy on an almost transcendental level. He most recent films though have been the best of his career (All About My Mother and Talk To Her being unprecedented achievements). What I love about them is that he took the same gritty animalism and desire along with the druggie, whore, and transsexual characters of his early punk narratives and put them into these glossy, vibrant and consummately crafted Douglas Sirk-esq melodramas. But rather than being meant as ironic transplants, this new form legitimized these baser subjects’ depth and humanity and transformed the clash of the wonderfully garish neon fashion pastiche of the 80’s Madrid punk scene into a neat and polished technicolor still life which retained their vibrance and decadence.

Yet, in this transformation to these mature, elegant and expertly crafted perverse melodramas which he’s become known for in recent years, his films lost the snarling rough edges and chaotic explosiveness of a La Movida coke fueled fuck fest that they used to have. They’re still confrontational and unapologetic, but not as gritty and destructive. This is why I dug his last one, Bad Education, so much. It was a return to his filthy excessiveness and chaotic world-order, but from a mature and nostalgic (and generally more pessimistic) perspective.
His new one, Volver (“Coming Back,” scheduled for U.S. release Nov. 3rd), is an even more exciting prospect. According to his official website, it’s a return to the lower-class realism and naturalism he briefly explored with What Have I Done To Deserve This. In his fourth movie, a director who had made a name for himself in Spain’s La Movida punk/art movement for excess and decadence decided to make a film referencing the bleak styles of Italian Neo-Realism and literary Naturalism. Because of this film’s self-conscious drab and coarse look, its excessive urges were channeled into more latent and concentrated reservoirs, resulting in a sweetly strange, singular and almost magical film. It’s been reported that his new film is meant to revisit this “surrealist naturalism.” The untapped potentials of this underused vein of filmmaking along with the masterful understanding of subtly and focus Almodovar has achieved since his early years should make for a really fucking good movie, in all respects. Along with this stylistic return, it’s interesting to note that it will star Carmen Maura (the leading lady of most of his early films, including What Have I Done...) and Penelope Cruz (his more recent leading lady), a mix of old and new.

There certainly exists this often negative phenomena, which Almodovar is courting (especially by naming his film “Coming Back”), of older directors who cut their chops in experimental Youth Cinema movements, self-consciously revisiting their old style and producing empty or forced regressions. We’ll have to wait and see if these upcoming films are fresh and useful reexaminations or just the cinematic slumming of memory. The man is so faithful and committed to his odd visions and stories though that reagardless they should be swarming with life and sincere passion. What an awesome old gay drug addict.

8 Comments:

Blogger Laz said...

Hey, Volver just came out today. Of course I live in Europe. This might be the first time it's ever been the other way around. So yeah, you're welcome to visit me in Stockholm, watch some ( one ) new movie(s) before everyone else. Come on Mazur, you'll be the coolest kid in Film School!

September 29, 2006 3:58 PM  
Blogger Mazur said...

I may not be the coolest, but I do have the best ass in Film School. And don't you forget it!

My buddy Pete said he'd give me a lift to Stockholm if I smoked him up, so I should be there in a couple hours.

How was Volver? Was it "surrealistically Naturalist" like his website said? Was it better than his last one?

October 01, 2006 12:02 AM  
Blogger Laz said...

well, i don't know about "surrealitically naturalist", because, what doesn that even mean? It was kind of supernatural for a while, but that was just Almodovar messing with us a little. Such a great movie. There were almost no men in Volver, but even so most of the crazy situations that the women found themselves in were indirectly or directly caused by the men in their lives.

The new "fatter" Penelope, with her fake ass was fucking great. I can't belive she had to wear a fake ass though. A fake ASS. I shouldn't focus on that though, because this movie made me realize that she is a far better actress than i thought. She just gets crappy bullshit parts all the time, because she is too beautiful for her own good. We should actually all feel sorry for her.

There's alot of other good characters in this movie too, alot of old ladies. No trannies though, sadly. Yeah that's about all I got right now. i'll write more when I think of more...

Maybe I'll have my own blog inside this comment box. And I only write about Volver... What about that Andrew? EH?

October 02, 2006 4:27 PM  
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