28 August 2006

Separation Blues

Brothers of the Head - dir. Keith Fulton, Louis Pepe - 2005 - UK

It's really uncommon when a film overcomes its one grave flaw, and, thanks to the beauty of its images, Brothers of the Head does. In their first narrative feature, Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe (Lost in La Mancha) just can't shake their roots in documentary. Brothers of the Head is presented in faux documentary-style, like if VH1's Behind-the-Music had produced The Filth and the Fury. It's supposedly a mockery of the talking-head documentary formula (c'mon, they interview Ken Russell!), but this creates a firm structure to a film that could have survived without it. Tom (Harry Treadaway) and Barry (Luke Treadaway) are conjoined twins, bought by a record exec to become the next-big-thing in the freak show that is the music industry. After learning how to play instruments, they become a wild cult success which inevitably leads to their collective downfall. Thankfully, their downfall is not as easy of one as you'd imagine. Fulton and Pepe add a level of complexity to the brothers' situation. Music becomes Tom's way of expressing his feelings from beneath his quiet exterior; music provides an outlet for Barry's once-dormant exhibitionism. Taken from obscurity, the boys accept stardom differently, leading to their emotional separation and distance.

Though the directors don't provide us of any footage of the boys before being obtained by the record industry, we are given photographs of the young boys, clutching one another as infants. However, as the film is told mostly in linear progression, there's a change in their demeanor as fame and stardom can be seen at the end of the tunnel. Perhaps this goes without saying (after all, this is a film about waifish identical Siamese twin glam rockers in the 1970s London), but the film is tastefully homoerotic. The brothers are treated with the same respect and curiosity that their bandmates give them. Fulton and Pepe are more concerned with the secrets behind the brothers' dreamscape eyes and the words that hide behind their pouted lips and never really come out. The film is alternately quietly poignant and rousingly aggressive. The concert footage captures all the sweat, sex, and emotions that is rock n roll. While the footage (not the talking heads) always feels completely alive, Brothers of the Head truly blossoms in its quieter moments. Their whispers and secrets prove more telling than the music they create. What the directors do right here is tackling questions that most might find unnecessary in the rock n roll picture genre, questions of identity and isolation, art and the artist(s). Not all of our questions are answered, which is the only defense one can make for the documentary-style of the film. We don't need all of the answers, because the questions themselves provide insight in themselves. If you erase all the talking heads (save the final segment with the twins' sister), Brothers of the Head evokes a luscious dream/nightmare of remarkable poignancy.

24 August 2006


Friends with Money - dir. Nicole Holofcener - 2006 - USA

The pairing of some of your favorite ladies (Catherine Keener, Frances McDormand, Joan Cusack) with one of your not-so-favorites (Jennifer Aniston) might not have been as bad as this happens to be. Holofcener takes the Anne Heche/Catherine Keener characters of her quintessentially 90s dramedy, Walking and Talking, multiplies them and finds them where we'd logically assume they'd be in their early 40s, now in Los Angeles with terribly unsatisfying results. Her last feature, Lovely and Amazing, was amazingly dull, though Kenner will always be one of those actresses you'd watch reciting the phone book, and since then she's directed various episodes of Six Feet Under, Sex and the City, and The Gilmore Girls, which would explain why, despite some closing resolution, Friends with Money feels more like a television pilot that hasn't become truly realized than an actual film.

Jennifer Aniston plays the Jennifer Aniston role here, a beautiful, but down-to-earth, trying-to-make-a-modest-living gal (here, she's a house-cleaner... riiight). She routinely dines with her three girlfriends, all married and wildly more successful than she is. Kenner is a screenwriter in an unhealthy marriage. McDormand is a fashion designer on the verge of a nervous breakdown, with a sexually questionable husband. Cusack is the perfect one with a happy marriage and an endless bank account. Hannah and Her Sisters this is (unfortunately) not. Scenes slip past us, offering little depth or meaning outside the boundaries of the screen, and Holofcener's decision to not use a tripod during most scenes feels more amateurish than effective. I stuck with Friends with Money despite all this, until Holofcener decided to teach Jennifer Aniston a lesson. It's a lesson we all have been told forever, and though this may be because of Aniston in the equation, it still doesn't work. Though it may be better than those other Friends we know Aniston from (only with money), but you're better off finding some better ones.

21 August 2006

Defy me...

Sister Act - dir. Emile Adrolino - 1992 - USA
Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit - dir. Bill Duke - 1993 - USA

Always guaranteed to emit ironic laughter from patrons, my co-workers and I occasionally whip out the Sister Act movies for work time diversion. The original Sister Act, as I'm sure you know, brings Las Vegas lounge-singer Whoopi Goldberg to a San Francisco convent, where she hides out from her mobster boyfriend, Harvey Keitel, after witnessing a murder. Mayhem insues, naturally, as the sassy Doloris Von Cartier must become the respectful Sister Mary Clarence and, surprisingly, turn their choir into a singin' sensation! Whoppi brings Diana Ross to the church, against the best wishes of the Mother Superior, Maggie Smith. Predictably, Maggie Smith, totally slumming it, must accept the rousing choir as it has not only attracted the attention of godless hoodlums and latent Catholics, but the pope himself!! How a premise like this worked for audiences, I'll never know, especially considering the silly crime subplot that takes the nuns to Vegas for a showdown. Sure, it's light and familiar and never offensive, but it's not the film itself that irks me as much as the people who would actually rent it.

Sister Act 2 finds Doloris, now a sensation, returning to the convent to teach a music class, filled with unruly inner-city kids that form rap circles in the schoolyard and back-talk to their helpless teachers. The other nuns can't match the wits of these youngsters, so they enlist that sass-talkin', no-shit-takin' Sister Mary Clarence for the job. Sound a lot like Stand and Deliver and Lean on Me and My Dangerous Mind? Tension heats up when the bishop threatens to close the school down -- what to do!!!??? Form another choir, right? I mean, it worked the first time around... helloooo, the pope came! So, Whoopi gets these whipper-snappers into shape. It's the same premise as the first, but with an attempt at a younger, hipper audience. Unfortunately, the kids, which includes Lauryn Hill, Jennifer Love Hewitt, and Alana Ubach (Clockwatchers, Freeway), are strangely unrealistic figures of youthful disdain. This is a PG-rated movie, so these kids, from the inner-city of San Fran, don't pull out guns or call each other "niggas." Instead, they throw "yo momma's so fat" jokes at one another, and we're supposed to buy this 'cos they're all Catholics? This is not to say that the over-thugged out teenagers in 187 or Dangerous Minds are more accurate, but they seem easier to accept as actual teenagers than the candy-coated thugs of Sister Act 2 that sing songs like "you down with G-O-D? Yeah, you know me!".

What really bothers me has nothing to do with these uninspired screenplays or silliness. I don't understand how these two films, among so many others, preach defiance and the undermining of authority and are viewed by crusty old women and choir-loving teens. This is a theme present in so many films of this calibre, especially films about young kids fighting the odds, yet what purpose does it serve? You can admire it's intention, but the Sister Act movies only give us is the problem and the painfully obvious triumph of the odss. The actual struggle passes by our eyes in shitty musical montages, allowing us to forget that our goals actually require work. In another sense, defiance becomes an act of poppy manipulation. The goals appear large, but in any large scale, they're trivial and somehow end up bringing us back to the conservative, Christian authority. The defiant ones temporarily succeed, but we're left questioning what's next. A friend of mine told me he read a review for V for Vendetta that compared it to a hypothetical situation of Britney Spears singing about politics. The Sister Act movies show us that defiance is not only something easily accomplished in our cinema time-frame, but something lacking any meaning, except personal gain. Perhaps that is what all, greater forms of defiance end up reflecting, but I'd rather not see it in the form of nuns singing "Nothing you can do can take me away from my God."

15 August 2006

Funny Games

Sitcom - dir. François Ozon - 1998 - France

Only upon rewatching Pasolini's Teorema, certainly his masterpiece, did I realize how frequent the themes present there have shown up in other films. I mentioned the comparison in my review of the dreadful Angelina Jolie thud, Foxfire, but I think the comparison works best here, with Ozon's first feature, Sitcom. Instead of Terrence Stamp, Ozon gives us a rat, who comes into a bourgeouis family only to disrupt their lives. The daughter (Marina de Van, director of Dans ma peau [In My Skin]) becomes a paraplegic dominatrix, the son (Adrien de Van) turns gay and begins hosting orgies in his room, the mother (Évelyne Dandry) lustfully tries to cure her son's homosexuality by fucking him, and the father (François Marthouret) shoots himself (in the opening scene). And all because of one cute little rat!

No doubt when Ozon was first dubbed the garçon terrible of French cinema, Pasolini, another rebellious cinematic homosexual, came to many people's minds -- though a French John Waters seems more fitting for Sitcom. In Teorema, the destruction of the upper-middle class family came in the form of a beautiful "visitor" (Stamp), but here, our God figure is literally a rat. There's a perverse, disquieting nature to Sitcom, but somehow it's missing the ability to haunt and provoke that Teorema had. Sitcom is played for dirty laughs, and this is where Teorema works better. One of the most crippling elements of Teorema is that it's hard to really allow yourself to laugh at what's going on. Pasolini doesn't play it tongue-in-cheek, but then again, he never really does. I suppose there's a seriousness about Pasolini in either his dark subject matters or his murder that doesn't allow for most people to see his films as comedies, even his more outrageous ones like Salò or Porcile. Teorema is subtly hysterical, and you can't help but feel that Ozon updated it with Sitcom, a Pasolini film as written by John Waters and directed by Claude Chabrol. Enough name-dropping for one evening.

12 August 2006

Candy Says

Strangers with Candy - dir. Paul Dinello - 2005 - USA

Strangers with Candy is like an old friend you haven't seen in a while after they've gotten an expensive tummy-tuck, face lift, and boob job, not to mention some nice designer accessories. There's really little deviation from the series, except that they had a budget. So, we have a full score, larger classrooms, and a lot more star-studded cameos (from Sarah Jessica Parker and Justin Theroux to Philip Seymour Hoffman and a hammy Matthew Broderick). Everyone's favorite high school sweetheart, Jerri Blank (Amy Sedaris), has just gotten out of jail (the film is a prequel to the show, kinda like Fire Walk With Me... or not) and decides to start her life back where she left off, thirty some-odd years prior in hopes to wake her father (Dan Hedaya) from his coma. Though the film wears thin once you realize this isn't a half-hour episode, it still provides some of the heaviest laughs I've had in a theatre in a long while. Somehow the movie, despite being lifted from the limitations of television, seems a little less offensive than the show did. Although Jerri still makes a monkey reference to her Pacific Island friend whenever she can, she seems a little less racist than she used to be (or, accurately, becomes). Either way, if you like the show, you'll laugh.

Jerri (to Mr. Noblet): Faggot.
Mr. Noblet (Stephen Colbert): What did you say, Jerri?
Jerri: What do you think I said?
Mr. Noblet: I'd rather not say.
Jerri: Then I guess we'll never know.

11 August 2006

Red Herrings

Lemming - dir. Dominik Moll - 2005 - France

Lemming, like so many other films, was touted as one of the front-runners for the Palme d'Or the year it came out, but slowly lost steam and ended up empty-handed at the prestigious awards ceremony. Some claimed it was because Michael Haneke's Caché played the same year, and the two films similarities cancelled one another out for the top prize. However, all Lemming has in common with Caché is the pretense. Alain (Laurent Lucas) works as a successful home designer working on a system to install floating cameras in houses to detect problems when families are away. He has a beautiful young wife, Bénédicte (Charlotte Gainsbourg), and a good relationship with his boss, Richard (André Dussollier). With such a set-up, we sit in our seats waiting for the unraveling of this so-called "famille modele." The catalyst for our destruction comes in the form of Richard's cold wife Alice (Charlotte Rampling) during a dinner party, or is it in the form of a Scandinavian rodent that Alain finds in their drain pipe? Like Caché, giving away much more sort of ruins the fun and intrigue out of Lemming, even if they are of a considerable less degree than Haneke's.

Lemming, at first, is a rather hard film to decipher. It presents itself as a thriller and an analysis of the sexual politics of the upper middle class (only minus the sex). However, director Moll packs the film with potential symbolism: the lemming, the cameras, the kitchen, the boy across the street; for some reason, none of this symbolism pans out. Like his previous film With a Friend Like Harry (Harry, un ami qui vous veut du bien), Moll packs the film with underlying suspense in typical film school fashion. And like Harry, we're congratulated for our patience with a whimper. The film may be titled Lemming, but it's revealed in the end that the lemming is simply a red herring. Moll uses foreshadowing as if someone told him some hush-hush film secret right before writing the screenplay. Every little nuance in reference comes back at some point during the film, which is obnoxious in its own right, but far more annoying that most of these recurrences only reappear to the smallest degree of their potential or just exist to throw us offtrack.

Unlike Moll, Michael Haneke uses even the smallest details to reflect the bigger picture. Moll uses these small details to merely distract the viewer from the sort of secret of Lemming. My father and I saw A Perfect Murder, a wretched remake of Hitchcock's Dial M for Murder, in the theatre several years ago, and he (not an expert on film at all) could spot its text-book foreshadowing. During one scene, the director chooses to place the meat thermometer in the foreground of an establishing shot, and my dad whispered to me, "bet you can't guess what the murder weapon is going to be." Moll uses this rudimentary film technique as if he were fresh out of undergraduate film school. This may be annoying on its own, but where he really falters is in his relieving of tension. Order eventually becomes restored in typical Hitchcock fashion, but the climax is the faintest of a thud. There's something explosive and dangerous about Hitchcock even Haneke and Catherine Breillat, two directors who can satisfyingly resolve the palpable tension they create. With Moll, he uses this tension as a mask for his subtle ghost-story, one that fails to both thrill and intrigue and only succeeds as disspelling the incorrect comparisons to better films.

10 August 2006


I'm going to take this oppertunity to plug my friend Bradford's Gregg Araki blog-a-thon (well, he's really the only one involved). Araki is easily one of the most misunderstood and underappreciated American filmmakers of the past twenty years, with films like The Doom Generation (above) and his commercially successful Mysterious Skin, and Bradford offers brilliant defense for his importance.

Opening Words About Araki
The Living End: "Fuck the World"
Totally Fucked Up: "The Decline of the Stupid Fucking Western Civilization"
The Doom Generation: "Little Miss Gloom and Doom"

You can check his blog for further updates, which will include Nowhere, Splendor, Mysterious Skin, and ending with Three Bewildered People in the Night. I will probably voice my thoughts some point in the next coming weeks.

08 August 2006

Neo? Noir

Brick - dir. Rian Johnson - 2005 - USA

A film that succeeds and fails for the same reasons is always a difficult one to speak of. Brick screams of first-film ambition, the voice of a director who hasn't yet hit a stride. Perhaps it's my expectations that made the film so hard to get into. It's a first-time film, with a hip young cast, with the guise of a film noir. We've seen established genres and writings adapted for the teen set (Clueless, based on Jane Austen's Emma, being the only films I can think of that worked under these pretensions), so weariness is not uncommon or unexpected. However, it's Brick's faithfulness to the genre that makes it work, even though it's the updating that makes it fall.

Brendan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt of Mysterious Skin) fits the role of our loner detective. He eats his lunch alone, holds himself as if he's seen the shit that life throws at you and walks like a persistent zombie throughout the film. He only represents himself, with a selfish idea of justice as he searches for answers in the death of his ex-girlfriend Em, who left him for the wrong side of the tracks. A lot of this is hard to swallow: a seventeen- or eighteen-year-old boy cold to the world, with inside connections to this seedy world he's trying to break into, but one has to accept the rules of Brick to really continue with it. We're in a Californian suburb, where high school kids are involved in drug-trafficking (not wholly unbelievable), but this is a world where only one character owns a cellular phone and where you never hear kids using the words "fuck" or "shit" or any other expletive really (there's a clever joke about it in the final moments of the film). The language lends itself to this faithful homage to film noir, where words like "fuck" wouldn't have passed the censor, but the lack of cell phones don't. One could view the film as a left-over script from the 40s, cleverly revamped to change the police detective into the high school vice principal and the spider-woman into the high school rich-bitch cheerleader. But our lack of modern technology in a modern universe (the Internet also doesn't make an appearance) comes off more false than it does effective, as if Johnson realized his film wouldn't work with it. That Brick is never stylized or hip is to its credit. With the exception of the opening shot, Johnson paints his film in washed-out colors, blues and grays that never bounce offscreen, but fade into the picture. But that Johnson felt the need to include awkward scenes where the drug dealer's mother serves his goons Kool-aid and apple juice screams of bad idea.

I may be speaking negatively about Brick, but I'm not giving it the credit it certainly deserves. Brick does so many things right, that you can't help but applaud it. It's probably one of the more faithful neo-noirs since L.A. Confidential, which may be one of the reasons why it never achieved the "indie" fame it seemed destined for. The final scene of the film, where Brendan solves our crime in the presence of the spiderwoman, Laura (Nora Zehetner, looking like an anorexic Rose McGowan), our mystery is cracked in long description through Brendan's mouth. It's strange that an audience that appreciated a preach-fest like Crash would reject something like Brick for pulling the wool from our eyes. The ending is not meant to clue in the confused viewer to what has transpired; it's the faithfulness to the film noir genre that necessitates this ending. This is how film noirs ended. Brick may suffer from a few first-film kinks, but a first feature this strong should not go unnoticed.

07 August 2006

Hatin', Crimin', Racin', Gayin', Raisin', Grossin'

Here are just a few titles being released on DVD tomorrow you may want to check out:

Manderlay - dir. Lars von Trier. With Bryce Dallas Howard, Danny Glover, Lauren Bacall, Willem Dafoe. Reviewed here.

Brick - dir. Rian Johnson. Neo-noir of the high school set, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Mysterious Skin) and Lukas Haas (Last Days). Not yet reviwed.

Sorry, Haters - dir. Jeff Stanzler. Stupid title, interesting premise about post-9/11 racism, which is sure to be better than Crash. With Robin Wright Penn, Sandra Oh (Sideways), Élodie Bouchez (The Dreamlife of Angels), and Fred Durst (um, don't ask). Not yet reviewed.

Adam & Steve - dir. Craig Chester. With Craig Chester, Parker Posey, Malcolm Gets, Chris Kattan. Reviewed here.

Hellraiser 3: Hell on Earth - dir. Anthony Hickox. Pinhead and crew are back for the first time on DVD, though only available in the edited version for some reason. Not yet (and probably never) reviewed.

Tromeo & Juliet: 11th Anniversary Edition - dir. Lloyd Kaufman, James Gunn. A beloved Troma favorite released in a special edition. I always found this film humorless and obnoxiously vile. Maybe I'll see it again someday. From the director of Slither. Not yet reviewed.

06 August 2006

Necessary Double Feature

Adam & Steve - dir. Craig Chester - 2005 - USA

Normally, something like Adam & Steve would not be a film I'd even think about watching, but I'd threatened that I might, if only for the fact that I'd probably watch Parker Posey reading from the phone book. But, after watching The Descent, I needed a diversion. And, I guess Adam & Steve was it. I sound like I'm groaning about the whole experience, but it really isn't that bad. Adam (writer/director Craig Chester) and Steve (Malcolm Gets) have a disasterous one-night-stand in the late-80s, only to begin dating in 2005 and not recognize one another. This makes things a bit more interesting than your average romantic comedy.

At one point during the film, Steve exclaims, "I don't want an open relationship like the other gay couples, nor do I want a gay version of my straight friends," and this comes after both men admit their love for Meg Ryan/Julia Roberts flicks. Essentially, this is what the film is trying to do at first. It's a romantic, slapstick comedy that works (at first). Adam has a fear of public displays of affection, because every time he does, "some asshole from Jersey throws a beer bottle at my head." And this joke runs through most of the film. Eventually, after an unnecessary dance-off, the film brings us back to the ho-hum Roberts/Ryan films we thought Adam & Steve wouldn't become. But, really, after The Descent, I didn't really care. How can you really dislike a film where Parker Posey wears a fat suit and dresses like a goth girl, who eats chicken wings out of her purse and mutters lines like, "I'm sweatin' like Whitney Huston going through customs?"

03 August 2006

Film for Music

Sebastiane - dir. Derek Jarman, Paul Humfress - 1976 - UK

File this in between Claire Denis' Beau travail and Nagisa Oshima's Gohatto (Taboo) in the category of homoerotic mood poems set on female-less military grounds where authority and desire are synonymous. Derek Jarman's first feature, Sebastiane, reinterprets the story of St. Sebastiane, one of the first recognizable Christian martyrs of the Roman Empire with a visual cue from one of Mantegna's famous Renaissance paintings of the saint. Visuals are really all that matter here. Despite this, I would guess saying that I highly doubt Sebastiane appeals to any sect of Christians would be a grave understatement.

Instead of a historical reenactment of the events, Jarman offers us a fantasy, beginning in a Ken Russell-style decadence and ending in the remote Italian wasteland (the Russell comparison is not an overstatement, as Jarman began his career as an art director for Russell on The Devils and Savage Messiah). Though spoken in vulgar Latin, historical inaccuracies don't matter (St. Sebastian actually met his maker by stones, not arrows). Aided with a score by Brian Eno, Sebastiane focuses instead on mood, a dream piece of power, desire, and strangely-interpreted faith. Though a favorite in the palace, Sebastiane (Leonardo Trevilglio) was sent into exile after disagreeing with the king with his Christian beliefs. It's in exile, where his beauty attracts the interests of the Roman soldier Severus (Barney James), heading the troup, and where Sebastiane eventually meets his death. It is here, in exile, where the film shifts from a Ken Russell film to a Pasolini one, in which religious figures become feitishized sexual figures. More than simply a sexual figure, Sebastiane represents the deviation of order, and it's in this deviation that he is both desirable and rejecting.

Though co-directed by Paul Humfress, Sebastiane establishes some of Jarman's signature motifs. Sebastiane is Brian Eno's first music for film (he would later go on to score both Jubilee and Blue). The film would also mark our first encounter with Jarman's sexual fetish. Like the existence of contrary light and dark women in Lynch or 50s period dress and high heels for Wong Kar-wai, Jarman's sexual fetish would be the slow-motion love-making of immaculately-sculpted, anonymous men. The fetish would present itself fully in The Angelic Conversation and best during a scene in The Last of England, where two terrorist-masked men would fuck on top of a British flag. More importantly, we first encounter the character of opposition in Jarman's films. After a discussion with Bradford, we came to realize that this character exists in most every of Jarman's films, the cunning provocateur, sort of like a Neanderthal Iago from Othello. This character is featured in both The Garden and Edward II as the instigator of humiliation or destruction of the central figure. He exists as Maximus (Neil Kennedy) in Sebastiane, a man of vulgar speech and carnal nature. In one particular scene (pictured above), he takes black chalk and rubs it across his lips and eyebrows like a sinister application of make-up designed not to be a beauty product, but the very opposite.

Though Jarman is known for his more "traditionally" experimental works, Sebastiane is no less of a cinematic experiment. He replaces narrative with mood and feelings, and while this replacement may be the driving force behind some of Antonioni's best work, it's altogether different here. Above all, Sebastiane is a gorgeous mood poem set in a fantasy land that's half homoerotic wet dream (I hate that term) and nightmare. There are two opposing worlds: the world of royal decadence and of isolated peasantry. Both diverge, but exist within the same film world. In this world, "faith," especially of the Christian leaning, doesn't exist as we know it. When Sebastiane tells Justin (Richard Warwick) of why he chooses to endure such torture for this God of his, he speaks of God's beauty, "more beautiful than Adonis," and we can't help but take that statement literally. God is quite the "other man" that Sebastiane will not betray for the lust of Severus. This sounds a bit porny, but this is the fantasy world that Jarman and Humpfress have artfully (not pornographically) created, a world where men speak in vulgar Latin, barely wear clothes, and where even something as pure as "faith" can be sexual.

02 August 2006

Ghost of Love II

For those of you who've been holding out, on Halloween this year, HBO will be releasing the complete Six Feet Under series in a collectable grave-plot box. This box will include some new interviews, as well as 2 CDs worth of music from the show, which includes PJ Harvey, Radiohead, and Sia. And if you haven't gotten around to watching the show, get on it; Six Feet Under is easily one of the greatest television dramas: addictive, poignant, funny, and (mostly) heartbreaking. If anyone was looking for suggestions for my Christmas present this year...

Light Showers

Cold Showers (Douches froides) - dir. Antony Cordier - 2005 - France

Alternately banal and curiously pervy, Douches froides examines a teenage love triangle (we love those, don't we?) between a poor judo champion Clément (Pierre Perrier), his edgy, tattooed girlfriend Vanessa (Salomé Stévenin), and a richboy Mickael (Johan Libéreau). Teenage jealousy and classism expose themselves as the film progresses, but not without numerous naked boy locker room shots and a sleazy threesome on the gym floor. First-time director Cordier strives for truth through realism, but are we to really buy this when accompanied by ripped abs, attractive faces, arty sex scenes, fluffed dicks, and a bizarre classroom scene where Vanessa analyzes the lyrics of PJ Harvey's "Meet Ze Monsta" as the class assignment? I'm gunna say no.

01 August 2006

¡Viva Pedro!

Thanks to Brad for the info. Sony Pictures are planning a series of travelling Pedro Almodóvar films across the US, likely timed just before their release of his latest, Cannes-winning Volver. The films will include All About My Mother (Todo sobre mi madre), Talk to Her (Hable con ella), Bad Education (La mala educación), Live Flesh (Carne trémula), The Flower of My Secret (La flor de mi secreto), Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios), Law of Desire (La ley del deseo), and Matador. Though a subsequent DVD box set release will probably be store, I would strongly suggest that you check out, at the very least, Law of Desire and Matador, both of which terribly difficult to find on VHS and likely remastered, cleaned up, and resubtitled. Sadly missing from the list is one of his more uproarious and underappreciated comedies, Kika. You can find What Have I Done to Deserve This? (¿Qué he hecho yo para merecer esto!!) and Dark Habits (Entre tinieblas) on DVD from Wellspring and Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (¡Átame!), though out of print, from Anchor Bay. Labyrinth of Passion (Laberinto de pasiones) and Pepi, Luci, Bom (Pepi, Luci, Bom y otras chicas del montón) remain to be the unreleased of his filmography. Pedro also has taken the title of director with the most NC-17 rated films (as both Matador and Law of Desire have been rated for the rerelease, along with Kika, Bad Education, and Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!, sorry John Waters). For more information, visit the Sony Pictures website here. And if you just can't get enough Pedro, Regent Releasing will be releasing Queens (Reinas) in theatres next month, starring three iconic Almodóvar actresses: Carmen Maura, Marisa Paredes, and Verónica Forqué.