Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Summer re-views: Pedro's Bad Education

Pedro Almodovar's latest JULIETA is getting good reviews, after the underwhelming I'M SO EXCITED a few years ago. So we are having another look at one of his most complex, exhilirating works, BAD EDUCATION, from 2004. I was also stunned by THE SKIN I LIVE IN (see review, Almodovar label) and of course we love ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER, LAW OF DESIRE, VOLVER etc. Spain's greatest film-maker scores again .... London's BFI is also having a current retrospective on him. This is my 2013 review of BAD EDUCATION:

Pedro Almodovar takes a look at his own adolescence as well as confronting the issue of sexual misconduct in the Catholic Church in this stylish thriller, which was chosen to open the 2004 Cannes Film Festival. 
In 1980s Madrid two young men, filmmaker Enrique and aspiring actor Ignacio, now calling himself Angel, open up dark secrets as they revisit their earlier years together at a Catholic school. As they try to uncover the truth about themselves, each other and the diverse characters in their story, they realise that things and people are not as they first seem ...
Well, that's what the dvd blurb says, though it mixes up the two leads' characters, but then it is a very confusing narrative .... Gael Garcia Bernal is at different times Ignacio/Angel, his brother Juan and Ignacio's alter ego the sensational drag queen Zahara - who does that sizzling musical tribute to Spanish star Sara Montiel, and also gets it on with another Enrique - a hilarious and sexy scene where she/he is aided and abetted by his ditzy pal Paquito. Then the first version we see of Father Manolo is soon replaced by another .... and then there is another Ignacio - confused? you could be, but one can hardly spell out the plot in more detail without giving too much away.

I had not seen BAD EDUCATION since 2004 and it played like I was seeing it for the first time, mesmerised by the crazy plot's twists and turns. It looks marvellous too of course, very Spanish in design, lots of vivid reds, with some stunning setpieces: the whole Zahara sequence, the two boys hiding from Fr Manolo - which played brilliantly in the cinema; someone falling face first into a typewriter ... Gael Garcia Bernal is stunning here, and joins those great performers in Almodovar movies: Carmen Maura, Antonio Banderas, Rossy de Palma, Marisa Paredes and Penelope Cruz.  
The marvellous script consists of three stories which have been interwoven in a brilliant way. Story one: film director Enrique (Fele Martinez) is being paid a visit by a long lost friend. who has written a script about their schooldays and the priest who abused them. This is the story we see as the director imagines it, with the two boys and the drag queen Zahara and her Enrique. 
Then the reality is the third story when everything becomes clear, a story of blackmail and murder. In all, a dazzling experience and one to revisit more than once ... the notes at the end which tell us what happens to the characters says "Enrique Goded is still making films with the same passion". The same applies obviously to Almodovar. The dvd 'deleted scenes' for once are interesting too, continuing what happens when Pequito (Javier Camara) and Zahara's pick-up Enrique (Alberto Ferreira) go to the school with the police, after Zahara unwisely confronted the priests ...

1 comment:

  1. BAD EDUCATION is one of his masterpieces, up there with ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER and VOLVER. Your excellent review has made me want to see it, (and indeed several other great Almodovar films), again especially having seen JULIETA which isn't quite in the same class but is a massive improvement over the truly awful I'M SO EXCITED.