Friday, February 26, 2016

ma ma

UPDATE June 2016: UK release on June 24th! I'll just have to watch it again ...

Julio Medem’s eighth full length (fiction) film features an unexpected megastar in Penelope Cruz who did some of her best work with Pedro Almodóvar (Volver). Maybe they did a swap, as Medem’s early muse Emma Suarez stars in Almodóvar’s latest, Julieta.

Cruz plays a cancer patient who only has months to live and makes the most of it. Most of the time her character, still very much alive and lively, contrasts sharply with the sterile white background of hospital wards etc., and she has life to spare for the male characters surrounding her (too many blokes for my taste, perhaps), and even to create a new life.

If I don’t sound quite as jubilant as I did after Medem’s previous films, it’s probably due to the subject matter, which I’m not all that keen on, even though I admit that I’m getting to the age where one has to take mortality seriously, and Medem, who is a few years older than me, is probably right in addressing it at this point. But why oh why does the gynaecologist, master over life and death, have to look like David Cameron? That’s just a bridge too far.

Sweetening the bitter pill of mortality for the fans of his work are numerous allusions to his earlier films, including the use of white spaces (Los amantes del circulo polar), swimmers filmed from below (Lucia y el sexo), hypnotic countdowns (Caótica Ana), “Natasha” (Room in Rome), and more. There is even a plug for his book “Aspasia”, which in the film is credited to Alberto Lafont (Lafont being the surname of his mother, which is his second surname in the Spanish tradition). I know how satisfying it is to find that everything you do connects to everything else somehow, so I can’t blame him.

The title plays with the words for mum and breast, showing how the life affirmation and the death threat are both connected to the same gland.

I ordered the DVD from

cover of the Spanish DVD (it does have the option of English subtitles)

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