There’s nothing so comforting as the florid straightforwardness of an Almodovar movie. “All About My Mother,” the Spanish director’s latest, is unapologetically passionate in the manner of his early movies like “Matador” and “Law of Desire,” and willfully unhinged like “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.”
But “All About My Mother” cuts deeper than any of those movies. Like classic women’s pictures of the ’40s, it’s staunchly committed to the spirit of melodrama: There are tragic accidents that tear lives apart, impossible love affairs with dire consequences, people whose seemingly cold hearts reveal surprisingly warm recesses and, at the movie’s center, a man whose natural charisma spells trouble with a capital T.
And mostly, of course, “All About My Mother” is about the essential nature of motherhood — not the soft suburban American momhood in movies like “The Story of Us,” pictures where frazzled women are constantly dropping their kids off at soccer practice, their commitment to life’s chores like merit badges proving their love. In “All About My Mother,” a 38-year-old woman (Cecilia Roth) watches as her teenage son is hit by a car; when she runs to him and crouches over him in the rain, we see her sideways, tilted and blurry, from his fading point of view. Her red raincoat, which had seemed monumentally cheerful just moments before, is already a reproach, a useless remnant of what her life used to be. Continue reading
Synopsis: “Estrella, a girl of ten, has lived alone with her mother Angela since her father died when she was very small. She is a lively and sociable child, but she spends a lot of time alone at home. Too much. Estrella enjoys fantasy and horror stories and, in order to exorcise the fear that the ‘big monsters’ cause her, she makes friends with them: she gives them a body, talks to them, they go to school with her, they protect her…. One day, Estrella makes friends with a new companion, a vampire. But could it be that this ‘friend’ is not merely a product of the girl’s imagination?” Continue reading
In a tenement, men and women fight in the same trench of a gray battle. Their dreams, their passions, their problems and hopes are the same for hundreds of millions of people who are struggling to make their way to happiness. Continue reading
Illegal immigration is one of the most challenging problems facing Spain over these
last few years. From among the thousands of immigrants entering the country by
various means, there are hundreds and hundreds trying to reach Spanish territory on
rudimentary open-decked vessels, most of them setting out from along the African
coast. Many of these African immigrants fail to reach Spain and find their death in the
sea. Others reach the coast exhausted and dehydrated from days on the open sea and
yet still hoping to find a new future. For many, there is no future as they are promptly
returned to their land of origin and even those who are allowed remain for whatever
reason, find that things are much more difficult for them than they had ever expected. Continue reading
Plot (From the DVD jacket):
In a small town close to the capital lives a family with three siblings: the serious and dominating Ignacia and her timid and withdrawn brother and sister, Paquita and Venancio. The monotonous life of the town is only shattered on Saturdays, when a band from Madrid comes to play their songs for the weekend dance. One stormy Saturday, Paquita and Venancio, frightened by noises, enter their sister’s room. There they think they see a mysterious fourth person. But their sister Ignacia denies it..
In a futuristic Spain, someone is murdering beauty queens.
If you’ve never heard of this wildly original and adventurous flick from 1999 Spain, then this is further proof of one of the best things about being in love with movies: you will never hear of, let alone see so many great films being made around the world. There are just too many. But you can certainly try, and this is an excellent place to continue your journey. Continue reading
NB: there is no audio track: Maenza’s films were never mastered or fitted with sound. This rip comes from a digitized work print. His films were sometimes screened with live voice performance commenting on and/or enacting what unrolls visually. The text that was read by performers during the few screenings this had at the time it was made can be read HERE (or via googletranslate)
In December 1968 I participated in the film Orpheus Shot on the Battlefield, which originated as a collective work, a movie without an author, but which would ultimately be attributed to Antonio Maenza in the end even though he only played the role of the director in the film. The film, which was never provided a soundtrack, was screened on several occasions with a soundtrack performed live consisting of a text for three voices and a number of musical pieces, among which were the “descent into hell” from the opera L’Orfeo by Monteverdi in the version by Edward H. Tarr, released in 1968 by Erato, “New York 1963 – America 1968” from Every One of Us by Eric Burdon and the Animals; and “The Return of the Son of the Monster Magnet” from Freak Out by [Frank Zappa and] The Mothers of Invention. After the “state of emergency” in January 1969, an epilogue was shot but it was never developed. Continue reading