Saturday, February 16, 2013

Blessings #12

Oh Land - Oh Land (2012)

She lived as a cloud for about three centuries and that informed much of her perspective when she took this form down here on earth. She was flighty, a dreamer, people said, but she also carried herself with a dignity that could overcome any obstacle that hurtled toward her. It was as if she was aware of a bigger truth and when she spoke, her words came down from a higher place, a higher self. She couldn't remember any part of her experience as a heavenly body, of course, but there were moments when an essence of something would trigger an overwhelming desire in her. For what? She didn't know, but this urge to connect came from deep within her, in the marrow of her soul. When the rain began to fall, light with mist that covered everything in a sheen of gloom, she desperately stumbled out the door in a daze and wandered along the coast where she lived. When the day turned dark from the heavy choking turmoil above her head, she couldn't sit still, had to scream, to beat at the air until her shuddering form was found curled in the corner of the room. When a ray of sun broke through and fell upon her face, she stopped and waited for the enlightened air to provide its beautiful message, her feet lifting off the ground and floating through the rest of the day. She fell in love easily and broke away from intimacy without notice. She could live anywhere and often moved wherever the whim led. Through it all, there was a fulfillment that surrounded her, an aura that refracted light in a strange way and many people wondered if she was truly an angel that had descended to earth.

Broken Embraces/The Skin I Live In - Pedro Almodovar (2009/2011)

If you were ever concerned that there are no more original filmmakers in the world, that the stories on the screen are simply something old retold, that the imaginative creative force of humanity is waning terribly when it comes to this medium, then you need to watch more Almodovar films. These two are his latest. "Broken Embraces" traces the tale of a blind screenwriter named Harry Caine as many events that occur in the present bring up seminal events from his past. Many of the mundane situations that inform who he is today are caught up in this twisting story told through flashbacks connecting a film that Almodovar made years ago to this alternative universe. Almodovar mastery often comes from these crooked avenues that transform events that seem so ordinary into a magical story full of intrigue and delight. The fact that he used one of his most successful works into this film just shows how much joy Almodovar has for the process of filmmaking. "The Skin I Live In" is one of the most twisted films I have ever seen but I was enraptured. A doctor, played by Almodovar veteran Antonio Banderas, conducts secret surgeries in a clandestine clinic that he built in his house. Many of these operations are simply to earn some money through this underground network that he's created but he also uses it for his own personal experiments and research. When the film starts, he is developing a new artificial skin to help burn victims, but he is conducting his trials by experimenting on a young woman locked in a room of his house. The real story is found in the reason this woman came to his home to begin with and what will come of her. It is incredible and one of the most unique visions I've ever seen on film. Almodovar has been making films since 1980 and he is universally loved in Spain. We are fortunate that they aren't keeping him for themselves because when you have access to a director of this magnitude, you should take every opportunity to experience his art while you can.

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