Wednesday, May 11, 2011

"Nunca había visto a nadie tan feliz/I've never seen anyone so happy" - Matador and Law of Desire

This is part of the series Hit Me With Your Best Shot at The Film Experience.

The title of this entry is the last line of spoken dialogue in the movie Matador, which summarizes some of its themes.  Curiously, it is almost a contrast to the ending of Law of Desire/La ley del deseo, in which that final death is not so happy.

I did not find Law of Desire/Ley del deseo as rich as Matador in its shots and images, although Law of Desire/Ley del deseo in my opinion is the better movie.  But two shots got my attention.   The first one is after the "showdown"  between Bibi Andersen (playing the mother) and Carmen Maura's character (Tina) during the play.  Tina, Pablo (Eusebio Poncela) and the girl are walking home, and they come upon some people washing the street.  Tina decides to be bathed in the water.

Maybe some gay things are waiting on the other side of this rainbow.
The water almost looks like a blue rainbow.   After the showdown with Bibi Andersen, Tina needed to cleanse herself.  But my favorite shot is one earlier in the movie, in which Pablo goes home with a male model who really wants to be an actor.  There, the model/actor asks if there is any cocaine available.  Pablo gives him some and we see the cocaine falling on the book La voz humana/Human Voice. This is the book that Pablo adapted in a play for Tina.

You can also see Juan (Pablo's lover) juxtaposed in this shot, going to Pablo's house for a last night before going away (and as it turns out, it is literally their last night together).  Tina washes herself in water while Juan is washed in drugs.

Now to Matador.

Since Matador explores some of the more extreme sexual practices, it is only natural that one of the best shots is Maria's first killing (that is shown in the movie).

The shot is after the jump.  Be advised that it contains some nudity and sexual content, and you should be over 18 years old to click away.

Killer hair, killer outfit, killer attitude

Is she the bullfighter or the bull?  This sequence is exceptionally edited, with Diego (the teacher, played by Nacho Martinez) explaining to his class how to kill a bull; the students practicing; and Maria out to saciate her needs (sexual, physical and many more).  I love her hair (how it looks like a peineta española) and how beneath her cape she has the bare minimum of clothing.  Beware of lawyers.  This shot plays superbly with another shot (and sequence) later in the movie, which is my favorite shot.

Here, the model/Diego's girlfriend, in all her Carmen Carrera glory, is also trying to play in the big leagues.  She is dressed all in red, the traditional color for a bullfighter's cape (actually her dress has a cape).  But she is way out of her league.  I love how Almodovar photographed this shot.  She almost looks like a bull herself, with the ironwork looking like horns (although she really wants to be a bullfighter).  It is interesting to note that in most Spanish speaking countries, when your partner/lover/spouse is unfaithful to you, it is said that he or she "te pegó cuernos", "te puso los cuernos", "te metió los cuernos", or literally translated, he or she gave you horns, or he/she attached or put horns on you.  I believe this is also a coyness/play from Almodovar on the themes of the movie and the plot's development.

Finally, I also loved the homage to Hitchcock, and specially to Psycho, thorughout the movie.  The most evident one:  Banderas been a Peeping Tom.

Just beware of retired bullfighters, lawyers and Girlfiends.

Almodovar really pushes boundaries in these movies, including transsexualism, religion (loved the altar to the Virgin Mary, which included a little statute of Marilyn Monroe and what I think is a photograph of Elizabeth Taylor), S&M, among others.


Robert said...

I love that shot of Eva and your commentary on "putting horns on your lover" gave it a whole new dimension. Great writeup!

Pedro said...

Robert: thank you. I always try to think outside the box when doing this write-ups. Further, being from a Spanish speaking country helps me to understand some of the nuances of this movie.


Really appreciated the contextual bits about Spanish sayings -- I never would have thought of that and it was also my favorite shot.

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