Friday, September 28th, 2007
Ellen and I have been watching a lot of Almodóvar's movies -- first we saw Talk to Her, then Volver, and tonight All About My Mother -- fantastic stuff. I did not like All About My Mother on first viewing as much as I liked the other two on first viewing; but it was also the first of them to make me feel like I need to watch it again. I felt like I missed a lot of the complexity in the characters' relationships and the quickness of the dialog. I definitely want to watch it again this weekend, and then to rewatch both All About Eve and A Streetcar Named Desire in the near future before watching All About My Mother again. So I've got my movie-viewing mapped out a little ways forward.
Friday, October 5th, 2007
Tonight I was watching A Streetcar Named Desire and thinking about All About My Mother -- as I noted before I wanted to refamiliarize myself with the source material and then watch Almodóvar's take on it again. Really nice viewing experience -- I was able to start imagining that Brando and Malden and Leigh and Hunter were members of the same circle as Almodóvar's characters.
Note: Brando seems too young for his character at points. Leigh does too, especially early in the film.
Friday, October 19th, 2007
Watching All About Eve tonight -- I am being blown away. I'm almost sure I've seen it before at some point, but have no memory of it at all. It is going to be really useful when I am rewatching All About my Mother -- I'm picking up a lot of the references that I totally missed before.
Is it a commonplace observation that Susan Sarandon looks like and acts like Bette Davis? Because I am noticing that for the first time. (Ellen points out that Sarandon does not have the imperious persona, which I guess is true -- there were non-imperious moments when the likeness was jumping out at me.)
Saturday, October 20th, 2007
I'm watching All About my Mother again tonight, for what I think will be the last repetition (for the time being); I am really getting the movement of it, and understanding the scenes individually and in combination.
Just pausing the film to note what seems to me like a really brilliant detail -- at the end of the scene showing Manuela acting in an organ donation seminar, the camera pans to her son jotting notes, then back to Manuela. Then the view switches to black and white and you see the movie rewinding -- the camera pulls back and you see the black and white is the videotape playing for a group of nurses who are reviewing the seminar. But in those couple of seconds before the camera pulls back, the impression (at least the impression I get) is that the black and white photography and the rewind are occuring in the mental image of Esteban the story teller, writing a story about his mother. This ambiguity seems really neat to me.
Sunday, November 11th, 2007
Tonight we watched What Have I Done to Deserve This?, an early movie of Almodóvar's -- well, "I watched" -- Ellen begged off about halfway through, saying it was not her cup of tea. To be honest not really mine either -- there was plenty of visual beauty in the film and some fine acting, and moments of genius; but watching the movie seemed on the whole more like a chore -- something to sit through because you want to catch bits of nuance and technique in his later movies -- than a pleasure. I had a similar reaction a couple of weeks ago to Godard's Band of Outsiders, that the movie just didn't come together as a coherent work of art, that it was not well-directed.
Saturday, November 17th, 2007
Continuing our Almodóvar festival -- we watched The Flower of my Secret tonight. A really beautiful, sensual movie. I guess I don't think it's on the level of Volver and All About my Mother, quite, though it does anticipate both of them.
Sunday, November 25th, 2007
I was watching (the fantastically good) Bad Education the other night and saw a preview for the 2004 movie of The Merchant of Venice, and it looked pretty good. So I have added it to my Netflix queue, and today I bought the book to keep me company in the meantime, and this brought to mind my post a few days ago about embarrassment -- because Shakespeare is always a source of worry for me, that I will be found out as insufficiently literate, because I have not read or seen enough of his plays, or do not recognize quotations from them quickly enough. Silly (it goes without saying) but there it is.
Reading the play this afternoon, and getting into the rhythm of the meter more than I can remember having done in the past -- my memory is that when I was reading Shakespeare in high school and college, I was always trying to figure out what the meter should sound like, without much luck.
Monday, December 10th, 2007
The first time I watched this movie, I thought it was the best Almodóvar film I had seen. But after a couple of viewings, I am revising that -- I love the film but not as much as All About My Mother or Volver. (It has things in common with both of those films.) What I really like about the movie is the layering of different levels of meta-story -- this layering is more complex than in All About My Mother but not, I think, ultimately as successful. I mean the first time I watched it, the story told by Fr. Manolo at the end just blew me away. But on the second or third time, that seems a little forced. And the identity confusion is great, but again: it is more complicated than in Volver, but when you're watching a second or third time so you have the elements of the story more firmly in mind, you just don't (I just don't) buy that Angel can trick Enrique into thinking he's Ignacio, or that Enrique won't confront him once he figures it out; and no reason is given for Angel to turn on Manolo. Still, an excellent movie -- these are very minor quibbles.
Friday, August 29th, 2008
We are watching an early Almodóvar movie tonight, Dark Habits (1983). He had not quite worked out his story-telling ability yet -- the story of this movie is too tangled, too busy -- but God: this guy is a visual genius.
The photography of the nuns is beautiful but what really gets me is Yolanda's face, both when she's made up for performances and when she's plain.
...Yolanda's concert, with the nuns backing her up: totally worth while. And oh my God! The Mother Superior took an icon of Yolanda's face from her towel!
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