Monday, 20 June 2011

Almodóvarthon: Part One


As I’ve already said, August is going to be Almodóvar month here at Nobody Knows Anybody. I’m probably going to write about ten of Almodóvar’s films (my ten favourites), with other posts on different aspects of his work as well, so I’ve started rewatching the films in order to work out which ones I want to write about. I’ve decided to watch them in chronological order: my first mini Almodóvarthon this weekend was made up of Pepi, Luci, Bom y otras chicas del monton / Pepi, Luci, Bom & other girls on the heap (1980), Laberinto de pasiones / Labyrinth of Passion (1982), Entre tinieblas / Dark Habits (1983), and ¿Qué he hecho yo para merecer esto? / What Have I Done to Deserve This? (1984). It’s quite a long time since I last watched his early films, so it was interesting to see them again and pick out the start of Almodóvar’s cinematic style and sense of humour (as well as recurring themes and motifs). My favourite of the four, by a long chalk, is Dark Habits –I’d actually forgotten just how much I liked it the first time I saw it. It will definitely be one of the ten films, so I’ll say no more about it at the moment.

On a related note: the British Film Institute is currently playing a season of Spanish films from the late-1970s and 1980s under the title ‘Good Morning Freedom! Spanish Cinema after Franco', which includes the Almodóvar films mentioned above. Paul Julian Smith’s article from the current issue of Sight & Sound, about films from the period, has been put online (here).

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Update

Ok, so clearly my aim of posting something last week didn't happen. I've been taking part in the 30 Days of Creativity challenge (you pledge to create something for 30 days in a row in June), and that has been taking up most of my spare time. But I am thinking about things for Nobody Knows Anybody!
The next three films I'm planning to write about (admittedly whenever I reveal this in advance I seem to go off the idea, but nevermind) are: Biutiful, Agnosia, and Nadie hablará de nosotras cuando hayamos muerto / Nobody Will Speak of Us When We Are Dead. I don't know in what order as yet -I'll see what takes my fancy (I need to rewatch the latter and watch the first two for the first time).
Plus: It seems that La piel que habito is being released in the UK at the end of August, so August is going to be 'Almodóvar month' here. That means that I effectively need to do a 30 Days of Almodóvar challenge and start watching the films (and writing about them) now, because I think we've already established that it takes me a while to write anything! So expect Almodóvar films to start showing up in my 'Random Viewing' posts (but actual posts about the films will be saved until August).
So, hopefully there will be a bit more activity over the coming weeks.

More articles added to the Spanish cinema reading list


All of these articles come from issue 39 of Archivos de la filmoteca, the search for a copy of which became something of an unresolved Holy Grail-type quest during my PhD –the articles in this specific issue are repeatedly referenced in books and articles on Spanish cinema of the 1990s but it is really difficult to track down. I found this copy a few months ago through Abe Books but only bought it last month after deciding that my quest would not be complete until I actually had a copy (I’d been dithering because I no longer ‘need’ it). These are just the articles that look at some general issues in Spanish cinema of the period (although taking specific films as examples) –there are others in the issue that take specific films or filmmakers as the basis for the article, but I’m not adding those at the moment because I will eventually do a filmmaker / specific film list. The articles listed below have been added to Books on Spanish cinema, Parts One and Two

Benet, V.J. (2001) –‘El malestar del entretenimiento’, Archivos de la filmoteca, no.39, October, pp.40-53.
[Taken from the official abstract] This article looks at various film adaptations of Spanish novels, specifically those of Ray Loriga and José Ángel Mañas. The analysis examines the values and symbols reflected in these films, which differ significantly from films made during the Spanish transition to democracy. The article situates the relationship between these films and their literary sources within an economic perspective, taking leisure and entertainment as key cultural concepts.

Gámez Fuentes, M.J. (2001) –‘No todo sobre las madres: cine español y género de los noventa’, Archivos de la filmoteca, no.39, October, pp.68-85.
[Taken from the official abstract] This paper analyses the various images of motherhood through their configuration in ‘90s films such as El pájaro de la felicidad (1993), Nadie hablará de nosotras cuando hayamos muerto (1995), Solas (1999) and Todo sobre mi madre (1999). The different figures are considered as cultural products which articulate tensions contextualized at a particular historical moment: the consolidation of democracy in Spain. Through a detailed study of the maternal, such issues as job access, geographical origin and sexual identity are discussed within the framework of the private and public negotiations women are to be faced with in the new welfare state. The legacy of the dictatorial past is, undoubtedly, a question that also permeates the construction of female narratives -unfolded here in personal and historical complexity.

Quintana, Á. (2001) –‘El cine como realidad y el mundo como representación: algunos síntomas de los noventa’, Archivos de la filmoteca, no.39, October, pp.8-25.
[Taken from the official abstract] In contrast to traditional discussions of film and history, the author takes the concept of historicity to examine the relationship between thought, culture, and art at a specific moment in the history of cinema. As point of departure, the article takes the commonly cited crisis of reality in Spanish cinema of the 1990s, in particular three significant cultural phenomena: the identity crisis, excessive images of violence, and the transformation of the world into a gigantic Platonic cave. These phenomena are observed in the various models of Spanish film of the 1990s, where a new generation of filmmakers aim to situate their films within the cultural logic of postmodernity. The author affirms that representative figures in Spanish film are a symptom of the global crisis of the real that is affecting the world, dominated by a loss of faith in the media and the creation of new spatial and temporal dimensions in a virtual sphere.