Just pretty good. Some really nice shots here and there. Male-centric mostly. Flat-nose girl plays interviewer – Almodovar himself as a shopkeeper. Opens with people doing voice-over for a film! Just like Women on the Verge. All About My Mother and Flower of My Secret open with hospital training videos. A play (Jean Cocteau’s “The Human Voice”) in Desire. Talk To Her opens and closes with a play. In Desire the lead is a filmmaker, and his transsexual sister is an actress. Lots of connections here… that’s why it’s hard to keep them all straight.

Pablo (Eusebio Poncela) loves Juan (Miguel Molina), who won’t admit he loves Pablo back. Juan goes away and Antonio (Banderas, who has been stalking Pablo, a la Tie Me Up) hooks up with Pablo. Pablo has transsex sister Tina (Carmen Maura, star of Women on the Verge) whose daughter’s mother has moved to Milan. After his latest film, Pablo directs a play of The Human Voice starring his sister and her daughter. Then it gets goofy, as Antonio kills Juan, Pablo gets amnesia, and Antonio takes the sister hostage, eventually killing himself. Great final shot as typewriter hurled from apartment window inexplicably ignites a dumpster and all cops and family in street scramble up the fire escape – shot freezes, roll credits.

Movie feels like it’s going somewhere, has interesting characters (Pablo being the least interesting), then the Antonio murder turns it into standard police-investigation fare.

The police inspector is Fernando Guillen (the elusive Ivan from Women on the Verge). Nacho Martinez was a doctor but I already don’t remember him, and Augustin Almodovar was in there somewhere.

Pepa’s (Carmen Maura) lover Ivan (an older Fernando Guillen) is leaving her. She just found out she’s pregnant and tries unsuccessfully to contact him for two days to tell him so. She tries contacting Ivan’s former lover Lucia (Julieta Serrano) to find Ivan, but no luck. Lucia and Pepa are each convinced that Ivan is about to go on a trip with the other, but he’s off to Stockholm with a third woman, a feminist lawyer named Paulina Morales (Kiti Manver) whom Lucia and Pepa have each tried to hire.

Lucia has a son by Ivan named Carlos (Antonio Banderas with poofy hair) who shows up coincidentally to rent Pepa’s apartment with his fiancee Marisa (big-nosed Rossy de Palma). But not before Pepa’s suicidally upset friend Candela (cute, short-haired Maria Barranco) comes along to hide out after she was forced to harbor Shiite terrorists who planned to blow up tonight’s flight to Stockholm (but are now safely in police custody). Also involved are a mambo cabbie (dyed-blonde Guillermo Montesinos), a couple policemen, neighbor Ana (Ana Leza) with a motorcyclist boyfriend, and an uncredited speaking part for Javier Bardem as the messenger at the lawyer’s office who convinces her receptionist to let Pepa in for a few minutes.

In between, the bed is set on fire, the phone and answering machine both get tossed through a window, drugged gazpacho knocks everyone out, Banderas gets frisky with Candela, and Lucia gets crazy and hijacks a motorcycle.

That should be sufficient to remember plot. Movie is colorful and fun and moving and hilarious… completely awesome. Worth seeing again. A Danish movie called Pelle the Conqueror beat this and Salaam Bombay out for best foreign oscar in 1989.

Hooray! Angie Dickinson decides to have an affair after walking around a museum forever, gets killed in an elevator 30 minutes into the movie in an obvious and great shower-scene homage. The killer is psychiatrist Michael Caine’s transsexual alter-ego, and it’s up to witness Nancy Allen and Angie’s son Keith Gordon (the director!) to bring Caine to justice (using KG’s high-tech toys like a bicycle-mounted time-lapse camera), since crappy detective Dennis Franz won’t help. Must’ve made transsexuals angry. Neat movie.

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Amphetamine (1966)
Where Did Our Love Go? (1966)

Warren Sonbert started his career just like Stan Brakhage (Desistfilm) – sitting around his apartment, shooting his friends doing daily stuff. But where Brakhage used camera tricks and crazy editing, Sonbert (12 years later) relied on his friends’ outrageous antics (drug use, homosexuality, knowing Andy Warhol) to make his movies interesting. It didn’t work for me, but the mid-60’s pop songs he strung together on the soundtrack made for good listening.

Honor and Obey (1988)
Friendly Witness (1989)

Then Sonbert travelled the world for a number of years, reviewing operas and shooting everything he came across with his portable Bolex. And like the dude who did “Ashes & Snow”, he one day sat down and edited all his stuff through the years into some movies. Unlike “Ashes” though, it’s quickly and intuitively edited, the shot order making sense only to the director, if anybody. “Honor and Obey” is completely Brakhage-silent, and Friendly Witness starts with the same 60’s pop songs from before, then uses opera over the second half. Slightly more excitingly edited than “Honor” and would’ve been preferable anyway if only for the pop songs. Completely wonderful films, great color, great framing, lots of animal shots, shots from planes, on water, on children. Loved ’em. Didn’t understand ’em, of course, but didn’t have to.

When this typical 80’s couple…

Crimes 1

meets THIS typical 80’s couple…

Crimes 2

… only a big ol’ Psycho-referencing ending can ensue:

Crimes 3

Fantastically fun, over-the-top movie, with crazy crazy acting by Kathleen Turner and Anthony Perkins. Normal guy with frigid wife falls for fantasy-fulfillment prostitute (who’s a clothing designer I think by day) who is being stalked by creepy bible-quoting porn addict (Perkins, on break between Psychos 2 and 3). There’s nothing here to dislike. Ken Russell audio commentary is a treat to save for later.

EDIT JUNE 2018: This is a lousy overview of an interesting series, and I need to redo it some day. Two years ago I got to see Phantasm in theaters, which I briefly mentioned here, and now I’ve seen a 35mm screening of Phantasm II at the Alamo. The guy introducing the film made some sense, saying this was the cheapest Universal picture of the 1980’s and that the studio mandated a casting change, love interest, explanatory VO, and linear plot with no dream sequences. So it’s the most anti-Phantasm of Phantasm movies, but it still pretty much works, advancing the mythology while throwing in a couple of real nice explosions and the most horrible sphere-death of the series.

Best horror series ever? Maybe not, but let me hyperbolize. Totally consistent and original movies with a really interesting conclusion, even if I still think Don is being vague just so we’ll think he’s way deep. Might find out later on the commentary. This weekend, listened to Don talk about parts 1 & 2, and watched 3 & 4 for the first time since they came out.

Phantasm 1a

Phantasm 1b

Part one gets better every time. Obviously so low budget but you can see ’em putting their heart into it. Love how Don waits until Mike is struggling with the rubber fly monster wrapped in a jacket to talk about the excellent acting in this series… I laugh at first, but dude’s got a point in general. Weird how Reggie & Jody’s song on the porch is one of my favorite scenes. The British tagline for this movie was “Where The Dead Are No Longer That Way”. Too bad I missed this at the drive-in.

Phantasm 2a

Phantasm 2b

“The Ball is Back”. I used to think this was the best Phantasm movie, but now I see it’s just the slickest and most expensive (and not coincidentally, the one that was always on cable in 1988-90). James LeGros of Drugstore Cowboy and Living In Oblivion takes over the Mike role cuz Michael Baldwin was busy that week. Still might be the best Phantasm movie, I’m just not positive about it anymore. Best Tall Man death (exploding eyeballs!) and Balls and effects and stuff. Not much left to write about, since I’ve watched it a hundred times now. Don says the fans used to complain about this one a lot… until part 3 came out.

Phantasm 3a

Phantasm 3b

“Lord of the Dead”. I used to complain about part 3 a lot… thought it was silly, what with the kid with the killer frisbee and the feminist/lesbian with nunchucks. Watching all the movies together puts it in better perspective. They’re ALL kinda silly. Nobody ever really bought the rubber fly in the jacket scene, and you can almost see the stagehands lobbing metal canisters at Reggie at the end of part 2. It’s just fun with bursts of horror and some good storytelling underneath. The repeated bits in each movie (especially the mirror endings) are fun, too. Anyway, the kid and the drifters and the nunchuck lesbian aren’t bad, and it’s nice to see Mike back, and this is where the whole thing gets weird, what with Jody’s return from the dead and the Tall Man implanting a Ball in Mike’s head, then spending part four trying to get it back, I think.

Phantasm 4a

Phantasm 4b

“OblIVion”, or, The One Composed Largely Of Deleted Scenes From Part One Used As Flashbacks. Given about a third the budget of the last one, Don found a way to create a new story around old leftover footage rather than give up or sell out the characters. Hardly any peripheral actors/characters, lot of final-standoff Mike vs. Tall Man stuff and of course an origin story. No horror series makes it to part four without an origin story. The Tall Man gets a name (Jebediah Morningside, a funeral home director who builds portals to other dimensions at home in his spare time), Mike tries to control the Ball in his head (or something), Jody keeps popping up but I still don’t know why, and Reggie gets in some good bits. Watch these movies enough times and they start to seem like real people. I’m sad to see the story finally end.

Wonderful movie, maybe the best of the Taisho trilogy. Starts and ends very free-flowing, dreamlike… little bit of storyline in the middle there. Suzuki shifts to different scenes and characters within the same shot. Lots of color, flowers, unexplained images. Beautiful.

Man with mustache and large hands apparently likes a girl who’s afraid of old women and cherries. He also likes a german girl with her “hair in the japanese style”. Or maybe they like him, or nobody likes anybody – I was mostly gazing at the flower petals, really. A meddling mustachioed man with a hat and cane threatens everyone with his gun. Maybe some or all of them die by the end of the movie.

Katy didn’t like it and is mad that I made her watch it. Guess I won’t try showing her Yumeji next week.

giving away the ending