Monday, July 8, 2013
WHAT: You may have heard films referred to as "Grand Hotel on a boat" (Ship of Fools or the 1953 Titanic) or "Grand Hotel on a train" (Shanghai Express") or "Grand Hotel on a stagecoach" (uh, Stagecoach.) The idea is that the multi-character melodrama can be transposed to any location imaginable. So here''s "Grand Hotel on a plane circling over Spain because of landing gear trouble". It's Pedro Almodóvar's second film in a row that takes 1930s film genres and fully updates them with his trademark color palette, getting extra mileage from his reputation as one of the world's foremost gay auteurs. The Skin I Live In took cues from mad scientist movies like Frankenstein and Mad Love while I'm So Excited goes back to the melodramas and musicals of (especially) the pre-code era. I'm thinking especially of a film like the bizarre and frothy but completely unforgettable International House. A seemingly weightless plot but one that does have room for the embedding of political satire in between its musical numbers. I'm So Excitedi's cabaret revue lip-synch sequence can't hold a candle to Cab Calloway singing "Reefer Man" but it doesn't disrupt narrative as much as it integrates into it.
I'm not going to turn this into a longer piece as this has already been reviewed extensively elsewhere, but two of my favorite takes come from diehard Almodóvar fan Nathaniel Rogers and from the more analytical Richard Brody. Read those; I essentially agree with both.
WHERE/WHEN: Multiple showtimes daily through at least Wednesday at the Century 9 here in San Francisco, though at least Thursday at the Elmwood in Berkeley, and through at least July 18th at the CinéArts in Palo Alto.
WHY: Perhaps this is the wrong week for a farce about an airplane malfunction and an emergency landing, especially in San Francisco. On the other hand, perhaps it's just the right one.
HOW: Digital projections at each venue. I believe I'm So Excited is Almodóvar's first feature shot entirely with a digital camera.