Archive for August 24th, 2012

by Pedro Silva

On Almodovar’s films everything is extreme. His universe of characters and situations is exacerbated staged, often within kitsch environments over the sound of old boleros.

On ‘Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios’ the comic elements comes mainly from the absurdity, like the old screwball comedies, softening the transgressive nature of his work. As a narrative strategy, Almodóvar uses elements of melodrama and comedy, alternating the tragic and the comic, the functional form for his speech. The story is full of events, plot twists and revelations. Words are fast and give the characters emotional amplitude. The script has a sore authorial mark, minutely articulated plot, weird characters and a strong approach to various topics as betrayal, virginity or senility.

The first impact comes from the image. The strong colors as elements of the costumes, using mainly red in reference to passion, become plastic strategies that help make up the melodramatic/comic aesthetics. Colors are so vibrant that it seems indeed that the scenario was painted in ink, remembering the old coloring in Techinocolor. The almost palpable contact with the image lush, the costumes worked, the eloquent soundtrack, photography multicolored and almost blinding, the actors, and especially the actresses. It’s difficult to imagine an Almodóvar film in black & white. The mere visual contemplation already affects us with a flood of feelings and emotions and the well-chosen Spanish music also take an important role in construction of emotions, sensitivity and empathy. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(UK 2005 150m) DVD1/2

Coucher avec moi ce soir

p  Kate Harwood  d  Simon Curtis  w  Kevin Elyot  novels  “The Midnight Bell”, “The Siege of Pleasure” & “The Plains of Cement” by Patrick Hamilton  ph  John Daly  ed  Adam Recht  m  John Lunn  art  Grenville Horner, Christopher Wyatt  cos  Charlotte Holdich

Bryan Dick (Bob), Sally Hawkins (Ella), Zoe Tapper (Jenny Maple), Phil Davis (Ernest Eccles), Tony Haygarth (Landlord), Susan Wooldridge (Ella’s mother), Jacqueline Tong (Landlady), Ruth Sheen (Aunt Winnie), Kathy Burke (voice of Jenny’s landlady),

One of the most overlooked mini-masterpieces in recent TV history, nestled away in the schedules of fledgling BBC4, Hamilton’s tapestry is faithfully brought to the screen in three fifty minute instalments.  Each deals with the same set of characters – a bar waiter, a barmaid and a prostitute – and concentrates on each in turn.

The first takes place in the eponymous pub where, in 1930s London, Bob is a bar waiter who aspires to be a writer, spending his time reading everything from novels to Gibbon.  Though he’s loved by his colleague, barmaid Ella, he instead is infatuated with a common prostitute, Jenny Maple.  She at first inveigles him into paying her rent for her and then, over the course of a few months, swindles him out of his entire £80 savings (you could buy a small house for that in the early 1930s), going off with other fellas while not even letting him cop the remotest feel.

The second goes some way to show how Jenny came to be so heartless, detailing her fall from servant to two spinsters in Chiswick to the events of a fateful night when, after being involved in a hit and run accident, she ends up drunk and seduced by a cynical playboy living only for pleasure to escape memories of the trenches.  Abandoned by him, she descends into prostitution, and then into the all too welcoming arms of Bob.  And in the third, barmaid Ella tries to escape her love for Bob in helping her impoverished family, and she falls into the clutches of a seedy regular at the Midnight Bell, Mr Eccles.  When it becomes clear he’s very much an old school army type who sees women as creatures to be seen as flirtatious lovely soft fillies gagging for it, she runs away, only to find Bob has left to escape his woes with Jenny. (more…)

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