Volver (2006) (Spain)

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Re: Volver (2006) (Spain)

Postby madhuban » Wed May 24, 2006 10:50 am

@ arsaib

Didn't you feel that the issue of rape (real or imagined) was handled with kid gloves, sentimentalised and kind of settled through an emotional compromise when it began to spin out of control?

Per se, I like crossovers. For instance, I think Wong's films are essentially potboilers that are consciously overreaching the limits of the genre, with sterling results. My problem with Almodovar, perhaps, has been that I can't quite locate his films either as self-conscious soap that attempts to crossover to the other side, or "arthouse" that heavily borrows from soap! Even if I let go of the notion of location (given that we are all displaced in some way or the other), all I am left with is an extremely uneven pastiche that is unsure of its own objectives. I am willing to be convinced that there's more

@ A

I could also go on listening to him inventing these bizarre stories about tango being exported to Argentina from Finland or saying that he overlays dialogue with music to destroy the film, and all this without batting an eyelid! His articulations are like extensions of his films. His actors have begun talking like him too!


Re: Volver (2006) (Spain)

Postby arsaib4 » Thu May 25, 2006 2:40 am

Madhuban, I probably would've agreed with you if, say, Beningo, who, as A pointed out, could be inferred as a guiding angel, somehow was allowed to escape the consequences of his act. (A said it wasn't rape, which I'd probably disagree with, even though in hindsight it was what enabled Alicia to recover.) I think in Talk to Her, Almodvarian "universe" met the one we live in, with his characters having to deal with reality, whether it was injury or death caused by their profession, or simply the emotional anguish, which unlike his other films, wasn't substituted with a lesser pain. (I apologize if i didn't read your point correctly.)

Perhaps there's an emotional wavelength which is required in order to relate to his work, I'm not sure. Also, it's possible that one could read his films too seriously. (I must say that I'm a little surprised by your reaction considering that you're a big Kusturica fan.) To be honest, I don't care much for Almodovar's early films; I saw flashes of brilliance in Live Flesh, and then All About of Mother was just masterful.

Re: Volver (2006) (Spain)

Postby madhuban » Thu May 25, 2006 6:51 am

How did I miss A's response! It certainly wasn't there when I replied to arsaib! Perhaps, it was being edited!

Thanks to this great debate, I am trying to think through my problems with Almodovar. I do believe that all films, however exciting or disappointing, deserve reflection. I'm keen to revisit "Talk To Her" in the light of your arguments. It has been wonderful to have such engaged responses from you guys as food for thought.

@ A and arsaib

He is like in a fairy-tale the catalyst for most of what happens, and his death might be not only the death of a character that is not needed anymore (plot-wise), but also the aknowledgment of Almodvar, that he is in fact too good for the "real" life that sets in again after the "comatose interplay".

A, I like your reading of Benigno, but the trouble is that having one's sympathies with this ethereal character (and I feel Pedro does side with him inspite of himself) means that his role as a benign caregiver (inspite of the violence/rape) is reinforced. However, he is such a wreck of a person (complicated by the fact that one cannot gauge what the problem really is except that he thinks he is gay!), that it is difficult to sustain the force of this argument. At one level, the film seems to be saying that he does these things almost unconsciously/subconsciously (at least, he isn't aware in the same way that "normal" humans are), and on the other, gestures at the strength that even a "subnormal" person has the power to bestow in a comatose woman through his love and care!

One can, perhaps, read this tension as an exploration of ambiguity, of what it means to be "normal", but I felt that it was a structural confusion because he creates this fairy-tale-like character, makes him the benign caregiver with shades of the monster, humanises the monster through the resurrection of Alicia, and then leaves him to face the consequences of his monstrosity! If "Talk To Her" is a tale of the magic wand of the fairy being burnt up by the touch of the "real", where does this break happen in the film? And are we saying that in the world of the good fairy, rape is an act of love as long as it gives the comatose the gift of life? I'd have been happier if Pedro pushed it that far, but he shrinks away from putting forward this outrageous statement and dealing with its consequences. His mostly realistic treatment throughout the rest of the film, would have made such a statement horribly incorrect politically. Benigno hovers between the fairy tale-ish and the realistic, and in the process becomes reduced to a half-articulated idea whose contours the film fails to explore.

And, its best not to speak of why Lydia is there in the film at all, except indulging Pedro's fancy for bullfights, stereotypes (the film has one androgynous woman as a foil to the "feminine" one, and an effeminate man against the somewhat rugged, designer-beard sporting Marco) and arranging, in terms of the plot, for the coincidental meeting of his two male characters. What bugged me about the ending is that bloody dance sequence (much as I admire Pina Bausch's work) called "Miracle of Life" that hints at how Marco and Alicia will come together, after the monsters have been exorcised. Oh! what an utterly middle class resolution to have your least problematic man and woman come together to live happily ever after!

On a tangent...I'm suddenly thinking of "3-Iron" at this point because it explores this moral grey zone, the act of breaking into without consent. Though Kim's task is a shade easier because he is not looking at violence perpetrated to the body (though the film is full of sexual imagery and in a sense the houses are treated like bodies), the fairy tale is so elegantly worked out that the films can dare to end by reinforcing the ambiguities rather than having to effect a resolution. Moreover, the sheer economy of the film adds to its power, and I think the scenes with the golf clubs are, perhaps, the most quietly violent (can't help the oxymoron!) sequences ever, requiring no raging bulls in a riot of colour or aestheticised B & W rape sequences. This is not to say at all that bulls and rapes are inherently offensive and, therefore, hurt my prudish sensibilities, but that it is important to consider what these images of violence bring to the film. I would like to believe that they are there for a purpose slightly more rigourous than their exotic, aesthetic or camp value. If one chooses an over-the-top vocabulary, one needs to match it with the necessary daring to carry it through, without suddenly pandering to middle class taste. Let me qualify that I have nothing against middle class cinema, but I do have a problem if it is made out to be cutting edge and radical.

arsaib, I admire Kusturica because he has consistently dared to be outrageous, and his work self-consciously lurks around the dangerous edges of the exotic without ever falling into that trap (though Zizek would claim that it does). Pedro, from what i've seen so far, hasn't made me feel that way ever, and much of my chagrin emerges from the fact that there are these momentary flashes when he comes close to it, before lapsing back into an annoying, though somewhat lovable naivete.

p.s. Giving dear Pedro a break, Sorrentino's film sounds damn interesting! www.cineuropa.org/newsdet...ntID=64756


Re: Volver (2006) (Spain)

Postby A » Thu May 25, 2006 1:30 pm

Maybe I was expressing myself too much "in favor" of Benigno'd character. I must say that the first time I saw "Hable con ella" (as much as i already liked it) I was very disappointed with the ending, for most of the reasons madhuban mentioned. I thought the death of Benigno was an eays escape, the coming together of Marco (for me a totally unsypathetic guy, and the least interesting of them all) and Alicia in the end a pondering to middle class morale (the two most "normal" characters), etc. I would have liked to have seen everybody confronted with the facts of what has happened (mainly Alicia and Benigno meet face to face after all has happened, and see both react to it!).
But I failed to realize what the film was really about. The film is imo (after several viewings) essentially about Marco. Everything that is added is "merely" there to illuminate this person. He is given shape and insight through all the other people and his action with them. What takes in fact place is a transformation of Marco from beginning to end, parenthesized through the same situation in the theatre. Benigno is a kind of mirror of himself, showing him the opposites/possibilities of his own personality (that's also why the two get along, because imo they are very alike, but responding to their situations through differing acts of enclosure). Both are a-social characters who are not able to communicate to their environment properly, but Marco in the end is offered some hope (through everything that has happened). The ending imo is open, with bringing Alicia and Marco together not as a happy end, but as two people who have gone through a lot, but are not as much dislocated because of this, but have found a firmer place and sense of themselves.
Also i didn't want to excuse Benigno's rape, just wanted to say that imo it doesn't fit into the classical theme, as a) it isn't actually enforced on the victim (who is not merely unconscious, but clinically dead) thus making it more an act of necrophilia. But for Benigno she is alive, thus bringing it again "closer" to rape. The gay aspect is also very interesting, as Benigno is clearly shown in the b&w silent sequence (which is btw. my favorite of the film) to want to not only merge with Alicia, but through his definite entering into her body BECOME her. At once this can be seen as the ultimate expression of love or the ultimate expression of a person who is maybe not gay, but to be more precise who would like to be a woman (when we see him watching her at the beginning - she the opposite of him as self-assured, fulfillling her desires and wishes- she is somebody who may have led a life that Benigno would have wanted (to me there were overtones of Hitchcock as in all of Almodvar I've seen).
Also Benigno is in fact faced with some consequences, when the staff finds out his doings. Loss of respect as a person, imprisonment, etc. In fact only Marco is in some ways supportive of him (not his act), not because he feels indebted to him as a friend, but because he can understand his motivations and his love for Alicia (as i said, both are very alive). Also in the end through the death of Benigno, it could be said that he has in fact become a part of Alicia, (because she is in a way all that is left of him, making Marco's newfound (?) fascination with her also something of a "gay" thing (but maybe I'm overinterpreting here, as Marco hints at the fact that he wants to talk about everything with her!).

Will check your link for Sorrentino later as it took all the time I have right now answering to your post .

Re: Volver (2006) (Spain)

Postby arsaib4 » Thu May 25, 2006 8:43 pm

I hope hengcs didn't mind us taking over his Volver thread.

Re: Volver (2006) (Spain)

Postby hengcs » Fri May 26, 2006 1:21 am

i am a very easy going person

Re: Volver (2006) (Spain)

Postby arsaib4 » Fri May 26, 2006 8:13 pm

So you're not like Kim Shunpei from Blood and Bones?! Just kidding, hengcs. (I watched the movie earlier today. )

Re: Volver (2006) (Spain)

Postby trevor826 » Fri Sep 01, 2006 11:05 am

I have seen Volver, and unfortunately due to problems noted elsewhere I am not able to give it the time it deserves for a decent review.

In some ways it's like a step backwards for him especially in terms of cast, Penlope Cruz, Carmen Maura & Lola Dueas have all been regular cast members in previous films.

In terms of story, it's a film that revolves around itself, history repeating between generations though with varying outcomes, I don't think Volver will alter anyones opinion but it is very enjoyable and at times a touch melodramatic. The one thing it does do is make you think the story is going in one direction then switch to another, during one part it looks like it's building up to some form of romance, but that's just left by the wayside.

The performances are as good as you would expect with such an ensemble and Penlope Cruz holds the attention throughout. There are a couple of beautifully composed scenes and very artistic shots, colour as usual is used to great effect and to be honest it's the sort of film that leaves you wanting more, I was surprised how quickly and easily the 2 hour running time slipped by.

Having read through the previous comments on this thread I must admit that there are some good points raised especially from the detractors, one thing I must say though, I have never seen Almodvar's films as "art-house", to me they are very typically Spanish with everything that entails. I do feel that Volver is somewhat subdued, particularly compared with some of his earlier films, it is lightweight considering several elements of the plotline but it is a well made and at times touching film.

I give it my recommendation (for what that's worth), it may not convert people to his films but it will hopefully transport you away for a while and will certainly entertain you.

No doubt I'll write more once everything is sorted out with the P.C. and particularly when others have seen the film.

Cheers Trev.

Re: Volver (2006) (Spain)

Postby trevor826 » Sat Sep 02, 2006 6:21 pm

I have to mention one scene in particular that has stuck in my mind, one of the sisters enters a room where a lot of female mourners are sitting dressed in black from head to toe, an aerial shot shows them swooping in on the sister like a murder of crows. The shot then switches to a side view and again, they are like scavengers feeding off carrion, swooping in and out in quick succession offering their commiserations.

It's only later on that the sisters find out that they have lived up to this depiction as crows, while putting on their mourning gowns and lamenting the dearly departed they have also been busy scavenging whatever they could from the house of the deceased.

An excellent use of symbolism from Almodvar and just one of many memorable moments from Volver.

Cheers Trev

Re: Volver (2006) (Spain)

Postby wpqx » Sun Nov 19, 2006 11:44 am

originally posted by Howard Schumann


Directed by Pedro Almosovar (2006)

If you are up for fart jokes, implausible plots, and convoluted melodrama, Pedro Almodovar's latest film Volver might be for you. Volver is lively entertainment with attractive songs, blazingly rich colors, and highly credible performances, but it is mostly style without substance and its worldview is limited to an idealization of women as eternal towers of strength, and men who are irrelevant pests. The film stars Penelope Cruz as Raimunda, a cleaner at Madrid airport, whose posterior properties are artificially enhanced to appeal, I guess, to a wider range of horny viewers.

The family has more secrets than the de Winters of Manderley. Raimunda's mother Irene (Carmen Maura) was burned to death in a house fire along with her husband but now she's baaaack to tie up some loose ends, looking like the friendliest ghost this side of Caspar. Irene returns ostensibly to care for her elderly sister Tia Paula (Chus Lampreave) and their neighbor Augustina (Blanco Portillo) whose mother also disappeared the day of the fire, but also wants to square things with Raimunda and her sister Sole (Lola Duenas), a hairdresser. It is uncertain, however, whether Irene is a playful corpse or a very much living mother who simply deserted her family four years ago.

If the circumstances of her parents' death aren't dicey enough, there's more. Raimunda's ne'er do well husband Paco (Antonio de la Torre) lusts for teenage daughter Paula (Yohana Cabo) who sticks the knife into him after he becomes overly friendly one afternoon. Raimunda, of course, does not report the incident to the police but says she'll take the blame and sticks hubby in the deep freeze while everyone just accepts the fact that he ran away for good (do not expect any investigation or justice, murders are quietly forgotten).

Paula doesn't seem to be too troubled when told that Paco wasn't her real father anyway so why stew about it? She begs her mother to tell her the truth about her real father but Mom makes up a lame story and Paula buys it. Paula is a lovely girl but her character is as undeveloped as a packet of rice sticks and she fades from the picture before it is half way through. Tangential subplots like Raimunda launching a restaurant business with a series of lunches to a movie crew, and Augustina dying of cancer going on a reality television talk show all come to nothing and, as the plot becomes more and more unfocused, it is hard to care about any of it. While avoiding the self-indulgent outrages of La Mala Education, Volver offers few truly engaging moments.



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