Wednesday, April 16, 2008

8th Line in Volver

Every 8 days in 2008 we celebrate the 8th Something of Something. Woot!

Spanish living legend Pedro Almodóvar is known as a world great director but he's also a world great writer. He won a well-deserved Oscar in February 2003 for his screnplay to Talk to Her. Subsequent efforts Bad Education (2004) and Volver (2006) haven't won as many statues but their screenplays are terrifically layered; filled with both abundant dark humor and character detail.

Here's the 8th line of dialogue spoken in...Volver

"Burned to death! That's the worst way to die"
-Sole (Lola Dueñas)

Many movies trip all over themselves as they screech to a halt for exposition. Not the films of Almodóvar. Volver collects exposition like bees collect pollen, buzzing quickly from gorgeous flower to gorgeous flower. It's doing a lot of work all the time but it plays beautifully --like you're eavesdropping on casual if stylized conversations. Until, that is, you watch the films a second or third time. It's then you realize how much you already knew but didn't know you knew as the new chapters unfurl. That cemetery sequence in Volver is just great, great stuff.

The 8th line of dialogue in Bad Education isn't as emphatic or expressive, just a quick exchange in a doorway but how about that title sequence that precedes it? It's nearly as enthralling as Volver's end credits... those delicious florals. Here's the 8th cleverly illustrated title card in the previous film.

Almodóvar sure does love the hot mess trannies. If you haven't seen either of these fine pictures, time is a wastin'. Get on that, will you? Before you know it it'll be a year from now and everyone will be talking about the reunion of most of the Volver cast for Los Abrazos Rotos (2009).

previously on "o8th"
Costumes in Marie Antoinette, Descriptof for Elizabeth, Carrie's hands, murders in No Country For Old Men, Magic in Harry Potter and more....


adam k. said...

I'm just gonna say "nice post", cause it is.

I really hate how we have to sign into blogger now every time we want to make a comment. It makes me not wanna leave inconsequential comments like this. But what would the internet be without them?

ryansumera said...

thank you, pedro for giving us lola duenas.

Anonymous said...

Actually, it wasn't until my second viewing of Volver that the understated, gorgeously modulated, subtly mindblowing brilliance of Lola Duenas registered with me (I had a similar experience with the leads in Talk to Her). That movie is stuffed with revelatory acting. Everybody knows Cruz rocked, but I was even more impressed by Duenas, Maura and Blanca Portillo (who, I was ecstatic to hear, has a role in Broken Embraces).

Boyd said...

Blanca Portillo is one of the great acting talents of Spain, but since she only does movies "on the side" (she is a theatre actress), we don't get to see a lot of her, which is a shame because she can do anything (she even played a man who outdid Viggo Mortensen on every count in the swashbuckler Alatriste).

I'm ecstatic that she'll be in Abrazos rotos as well. I hope she has more hair, though, than in Volver... even if a shaved head might be exactly the right thing opposite a red-head (!!!) Pénelope in the new film.

Anonymous said...

Blanca Portillo blew me away - she was my favorite thing about Volver in a movie stuffed with fine performances. But Portillo was the revelation to me and I wondered why her perf didn't get more attention stateside. I'm thrilled that she's in Broken Embrace.



adam --you do? than how am i still getting anonymous comments?

i love how everyone has different takes on who is best in Volver ... and you can all be right because the acting is phenomenal throughout. One thing I love about Pedro and other filmmakers too who understand the concept (fewer and fewer) is that you can sometimes see multiple performances at once because he doesn't shoot entirely in close-ups.

that is making me crazy in american movies.

Sam said...

Fantastic, clever post.

Anonymous said...

//adam --you do? than how am i still getting anonymous comments?//

Erm, I just click the "anonymous" option. (I do have a gmail account and could use it but I kind of prefer the anonymity thing. Except I use the same darn pseudonym all over the place, so I'm probably just fooling myself.)

Good point Nat about the layers of acting in Volver; one could say the same about All About My Mother or...any Almodovar project, really. One could also say the same regarding long shots about Baz Luhrmann (oh, wait, you already did. Sorry.)


Catherine said...

I have incredibly fond feelings for both "Talk To Her" and "Volver", but neither can come close to "All About My Mother". I saw it for the first time when I was fourteen and it just blew me away, but there was never anywhere I could enthuse about it with other people. It wasn't until I started frequenting sites like this that I found other like-minded people, so thanks Nathaniel. :)

Anonymous said...

As much as I love Volver (and la Cruz since the film), I'll always kinda loathe Almodovar for his animal cruelty in Talk to Her.

Noelle said...

I watched this for the 1st time last night and liked it, but after reading your post I feel like I missed something. I will have to watch it a 2nd time. I thought Lola Duenas was great too - I love the scenes where she interacts with Aunt Paula.