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.
IMDB says: “A fifty-year-old prostitute, no longer able to attract men, looks back on her sad life. Once a lady-in-waiting at the imperial court at Kyoto, Oharu fell in love with, and became the lover of, a man below her station. They were discovered, and Oharu and her family were exiled. For Oharu there followed a life filled with one sorrow and humiliation after another.”
That’s about right. Her dad is pretty crappy to her, and the whole “marry for love whatever the cost” message is lost pretty quickly when everyone’s social position ends up determining the rest of their shameful lives as usual. Didn’t see the big deal of this being one of the greatest movies ever made, actually got shamefully restless in my seat and hoped it would end soon. I guess Japanese period dramas were just not made for me. It’s a big deal that Toshiro Mifune is in this, but I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t recognize him and don’t know who he played (“Katsunosuke”).
Sissy Spacek is tormented daily (most memorably in a shower-room scene full of naked high-school girls), then just when she’s made to feel special (via rigged prom queen vote), down comes the pig’s blood and out pours the psychic rage (school fire), which later also takes out her tormentors (car crash) and her mother and herself (collapsing their house). A classic for obvious reasons. Spacek was memorably nude in Prime Cut also, and probably in Badlands but I don’t remember. She was 26 in this so it’s okay to get naked.
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.
Yay, a public screening, but boo, a DVD projection. The roller skating scene and the singing scene and the opening factory scenes will never cease to be funny and amazing. Charlie gets fired from his factory job after going completely mental from being treated like a machine, ends up in jail. Foils jailbreak high on coke that fellow inmate slips into salt shaker. Gets letter of commendation from the mayor, which gets him night watchman gig at department store. Meanwhile, orphan girl (dad died in workers’ protest) is stealing to eat and dreaming of a nice home and a nice husband, meets Charlie and they play at the store after hours. The store is robbed and Charlie and the girl are caught up in the plot. Then I forget a few things, but she ends up dancing at a restaurant and Charlie gets to be a singing waiter, then The Song…
edit 7/31/07: Katy finally watched last night. Liked it!
Same old gorgeous La Jetee. No longer makes me think of 12 Monkeys while watching it (a good thing). I spotted cats and a bird (below), but no owls. Watched out on the porch – Katy enjoyed it, but never mentioned the motion part. Thanks again for my poster.
One of my favorite movie stills ever:
Luke Wilson and Maya Rudolph are supposed to be frozen for a year, but it turns into 500. Dax Shepard is Frito, the dummy they meet who tries to help them get home. Luke goes from being a criminal to being president (taking over from a pro wrestler). Also there’s a monster truck gladiator match, a big clock in the middle of town that blinks 12:00, and some other stuff that’s too tiring to try to remember right now. A pretty okay movie with scattered funny + clever parts, not the cult classic the AV Club seems to think it has/will become.
2015 edit: I was wrong. Cult classic!
2017 edit: Watched this again, for the final time, now that it has mostly come true.
Was this a great movie, or just pretty good? Were Scarlett Johansson and Hilary Swank good in this or not? Was the movie full of style or very straightforwardly told? My answers keep changing, so I guess I’d better see it again sometime.
Josh “Bucky” Hartnett and Aaron “Lee” Eckhart are boxers (“Ice” and “Fire” respectively) turned detective-partners. Lee becomes obsessed with the Black Dahlia murder after the body is found while he’s on a stakeout shooting someone involved with the money he stole from somewhere else I forget, and abandons his wife who I think is a former prostitute who has a crush on Bucky and was disfigured by a guy who’s about to get out of jail and when he does Lee wants to kill him but ends up killed himself by shadowy rich Hilary Swank I forget why exactly while Bucky watches helpless like he so often does. At the end Bucky ends up with Scarlett of course, but still haunted by this Black Dahlia who actually doesn’t play a big part in this (and doesn’t look one bit like her lookalike Swank). There’s more to it I’m sure. Oh, and it’s all told through Bucky’s eyes so performances are actually colored by his memory of them – a cool touch.
Was fun to watch anyway, never dull, and was neat to look around the opening-night theater as the lights came up at the big WTF expression on everyone’s faces.
Showed to Jimmy. Hope he liked it. Tight 80-minute twisty little noir about pickpocket who accidentally steals secrets about to be traded to the russians. Cops were monitoring the switchoff to pounce on the head commie, so now cops, commies and the girl stuck in the middle are all after the pickpocket, who remains supercool in the face of danger. Richard Widmark and Jean Peters star, and Thelma Ritter plays Moe, the tie salesman / informant. Everyone in this is perfect. The girl gets shot, but she lives, and Widmark gets her in the end.