Friday, August 29, 2014

#540 The Blue Angel

This movie was actually a lot darker than I thought it would be. It is about a strict professor who finds out that his students are going to this club called The Blue Angel. So, he decides to go there and stop them, but ends up falling in love with a nightclub singer called Lola Lola. When he proposes to Lola, and she starts laughing, I thought for sure that she was going to reject him, but oddly enough the two of them end up getting married. So, he quits his job and ends up traveling around with her and her act. After four years, he ends up working as a clown. At the end of the movie it is really depressing to see him humiliate himself onstage. Half of the audience loves it, but the other half of the audience gets angry. While he is onstage getting eggs smashed on his head and being forced to act like a chicken, his wife is downstairs making out with the strong man. He then loses it, and tries to kill her, all the while still acting like a chicken. He loses all of his self respect as well as his mind, all for a woman who never really loves him.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

#539 The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie

What an odd movie. I would expect nothing less from Luis Bunuel. This movie is about a group of upper class people who keep trying to eat together, but keep getting interrupted by more and more bizarre situations. It starts off small, with them getting the date mixed up on when they were having dinner together, and then the situations get more and more peculiar. As the movie goes on you find out that the odd situations are actually people's dreams, or their dreams within dreams. For example, they all get invited to eat with a colonel. As they sit down to eat, curtains open up and they are revealed to be on a stage. Suddenly, we see one of the character's wake up, talk about his weird dream, and then he and his wife go to dinner with the colonel. While at dinner, two men get in a fight and one shoots the other. Then, a different man wakes up and says that he dreamed about the first man having a dream and then going to eat dinner with the colonel, where a man was shot. The most bizarre dream was when they all were arrested (which itself may or may not have been a dream) and one of the policemen dreams that they are torturing a man with a piano and that a ghost of a sergeant is roaming the halls and setting prisoners free. What is great about this movie is that even though all of these weird things are happening, the characters all act like everything is normal. Like when there was apparently a war going on outside of the house, they all just sat there talking to each other like nothing was going on.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

#538 Viridiana

This is the third Luis Bunuel film that I have seen, after Un Chien Andalou, and Abmismos de Pasion, his adaptation of Wuthering Heights. This film is two separate stories about how you can't really trust anyone. The first half is about Viridiana, a woman about to take her vows to become a nun, who is forced to stay with her uncle for a little while. She looks exactly like her uncle's dead wife, so he instantly falls in love with her and tries to convince her to stay and be his wife. He even has her wear his wife's wedding dress, and when she refuses his advances, he drugs her and almost rapes her before changing his mind. After she leaves, he ends up killing himself. The second half is after Viridiana decides that she no longer wants to go back to the convent. She decides to do good another way and lets a bunch of vagrants stay with her. At first they seem grateful and harmless, but as soon as she leaves, they destroy the house and one of them tries to rape Viridiana after she returns. This woman just goes through a whole bunch of crap because she was doing what she thought was right, and this movie shows you how harsh life can be. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

#537 All About My Mother

Pedro Almodovar film's are always filled with lots of drama and dramatic situations, but this is the first of his films that I've seen that was actually sad. I cried three or four times while watching this movie. It is about a woman named Manuela whose son dies while trying to get an autograph from this actress who was playing Blanche in a production of A Streetcar Named Desire.  So, she decides to go to Barcelona to find his father, who never even knew that he got Manuela pregnant. It turns out that her son's father is a transsexual named Lola who impregnated a young nun (!) played by Penelope Cruz and also infected her with the HIV virus. She ends up becoming her surrogate mother while also working as a personal assistant for the actress, who coincidentally is doing Streetcar in Barcelona. This is the 9th Pedro Almodovar film that I've seen, and I have genuinely liked all of them. This one seemed a lot more personal to him than the other ones, and at the end, he even dedicates it to his mother (along with Bette Davis, Gena Rowlands, and Romy Schneider.) Aldmodovar's films always seem to have such interesting and complex characters who you can't help but like even if they are very flawed, and even if you don't like them, you are intrigued by them. Like in this movie, I didn't really like Agrado that much at first, but as the movie progressed she grew on me. There's this great scene where the two leads are in the hospital and Streetcar can't go on, so she decides to tell the audience her life story and she gives this great speech about authenticity.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

#536 Cria Cuervos

Cria Cuervos is about a little girl named Ana who seems to be completely desensitized to death. After she watches her mother suffer with cancer and die, she blames her father and decides to poison him. The "poison" that she uses is actually baking soda, but when her father actually dies of a heart attack, she thinks that she was the cause. Throughout the movie this little girl has to deal with so much stuff that little kids shouldn't have to deal with, including death and her father's adultery. Even when she is playing, she is pretending that she is an adult. There is a scene where her and her sister dress up and pretend to be a married couple, and what they do is fight about the husband coming home late. Later on in the movie you see a flashback to when Ana witnessed her parent's having a similar fight. In another scene, Ana is playing with a doll and is annoyed about changing it's diaper and breastfeeding it.
After "killing" her father, she seems to have no problem with killing other people. She offers to kill her grandmother who is suffering from Alzheimer's, and she puts "poison" in her aunt's milk. I thought that she was going to change her mind and knock the cup out of her aunt's hand or something, but for some reason she wanted her aunt dead. Later, she goes to her aunt's room and pets her head and says "poor thing..." which is exactly what she did to her pet hamster when it died. She then goes down to the kitchen and washes her Aunt's cup, which mirrors the earlier scene when she finds her father dead. She was very surprised when she woke up the next morning to find her aunt was still alive.
The only time that Ana seems to be happy is when she is imagining that her mother is with her. I didn't even realize until after the second time that Ana saw her mom that she was dead. Ana Torrent is really great as Ana. She just has this great face and those big expressive brown eyes. She is an innocent little girl who is dealing with all of these dark things, and her character is somewhat similar to her character is The Spirit of the Beehive, which she is also great in.

#535 Talk To Her

Pedro Almodovar seems to have a way with taking a subject matter that would normally be creepy and unsettling and turning it into something interesting and rather beautiful. With the character of Benigno, instead of being creeped out by him, I ended up just feeling really sorry for him. This movie is about two men, Benigno and Marco who become friends after Marco's bullfighter girlfriend goes into a coma after being gored. At the start of the movie, Benigno has been taking care of another coma patient, Alicia, for four years. You see from the start how attached he is to her, but as you watch the movie you find out that he is actually in love with her, and has been since before she was in a coma. He takes care of her night and day, and during his time off he does the activities that she used to like, so that he can talk to her about them. At first it seems sort of sweet, but then you realize that he is delusional about their relationship, and that he doesn't think there is anything wrong with wanting to marry a woman in a coma. When the doctors find out that Alicia is pregnant, I really didn't want it to be Benigno who raped her, but who else could it have been? I do believe that he genuinely loves her, but he is also mentally unstable. His behavior and actions were definitely not okay, and he deserved to go to jail, but you can't help but sympathize with him a little bit. The friendship between Marco and Benigno is also really interesting. You would think that Marco would be disgusted with Benigno, but he sticks by him through everything.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

#534 Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

"Ladies and gentlemen....welcome to violence!" This movie is completely ridiculous and over the top and I love it! It is about a female gang of go-go dancers who are also drag racers and murderers. The leader is Varla, who has Elvira-level cleavage throughout the whole movie and always seems to be standing with one foot up on her car. There's Rosie, with her over the top Italian accent (complete with hand gestures), who may or may not be in love with Varla, and then there's Billie, who spends the movie either dancing, flirting, or drinking. In the beginning of the movie, Varla murders this guy, and then the girls kidnap his girlfriend, who spends the rest of the movie running around in her bikini and crying. Then they spend the rest of the movie trying to figure out how to steal from this old man. The plot is the least important aspect of this movie, however, and its more about the camp. This movie has tons of campy dialogue including stuff like when asked if they want a soft drink and Varla replies "Honey, we don't like nothing soft. Everything we touch is hard." This movie is anything but subtle, and that's what makes it so great. There are at least four parts in this movie where people are rolling around in the dirt while fighting. I also love that Varla fights by karate chopping. She must have some deadly hands because both times that she fights she kicks the guys' asses. This movie was just a lot of fun to watch and you can see the influence it had on a lot of other things. There's one line of dialogue that is also the name of a Daniel Clowes comic, and there's another line of dialogue that was sampled in a Rob Zombie song. According to IMDb, Quentin Tarantino might be remaking this movie, and I think that it would be really cool to see an updated version. You can see a bit of influence from this movie in "Death Proof."

Saturday, August 2, 2014

#533 Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown

About a month or so ago, I saw one of Pedro Almodovar's films for the first time. I rented "The Skin I Live In" and I loved it so much that I wanted to watch Almodovar's entire filmography. Since then I have seen "Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down," "Matador," and "Laws of Desire." It just so happens that the fifth film of his that I have seen is on the list of 1001 movies that I must see before I die. This movie was pretty different from all of the other movies that I've seen of his. The other movies were more about sex, and obsession, and were darker than this movie.  The one thing that this film has in common with the other films is a theme of mental illness. "Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown" centers around Pepa, played by Carmen Maura, who gets dumped by her lover. While trying to get in touch with him, and through a series of coincidences, she meets his son, played by Antonio Banderas, her lover's mentally ill wife, and his new mistress. She also has to deal with her friend who believes that she is in trouble with the law because she had an affair with a Shiite terrorist. This movie has tons of melodrama, but still manages to be funny.  This is also the first of Almodovar's films that I've seen where Antonio Banderas isn't playing the mentally ill one. In this movie he is playing a pretty normal guy who keeps trying to make out with Pepa's friend even though his fiance is passed out in the next room. While I liked "The Skin I Live In" and "Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!" better than this one, it was still good movie, and it makes me want to continue to check out Almodovar's filmography.