Posts Tagged: Alberto Iglesias

Pedro & Filmic Anesthetia

If you happen to have read this blog in the past few months, you know that I’ve been chomping at the bits finally to see The Skin I Live In (La piel que habito), the newest feature by the great Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar.  So did I see it?  Yes, when it FINALLY opened a few weeks ago in ‘my part of the country’ after its May premiere in Europe.  So why have I remained mute about it?  Well, it’s like this: after I saw it, the only thing I could think was, “I need to see that again.”

La piel had a strange effect on me.  Though it runs for 117 minutes, when the credits rolled, I couldn’t believe that I had just finished watching an entire feature film.  I’m hard pressed to say why.  It’s not like the pace of the narrative was dizzying or frantic.  In fact, when it was over, I had the distinct sense that there were many fewer twists and turns than in a lot of Almodóvar’s plots.

But upon further reflection, I don’t think that’s quite right.  The central plot of the film resolves into one stupendous twist so spectacular that it obfuscates many smaller revelations and surprises along the way.  But that largest of revelations comes about late in the game, and it feels slow to arrive.  Maybe the issue is that the film’s tone is so austere that we aren’t as invested emotionally in the plot’s unraveling.

But this is where it gets really tricky, because I would never say that this movie is “cold”.  It’s not.  It’s got plenty of deep, complex emotions (though no humor to speak of, a major departure for Almodóvar.)  And yet, when the movie was over, I felt numb, like I was coming out of a haze.  There’s something about this film that anesthetizes the viewer to its own content, and I can’t pinpoint what it is.  Nor do I think this is a miscalculation.  Much to the contrary, I think this is exactly what Pedro was after.

And now I’m chomping at the bits to see it again, but it only played for one lousy week in Cincinnati.  Jehovah only knows when it’s coming out on DVD.

Thankfully, the score is out on iTunes, and, as we’ve come to expect from Alberto Iglesias, it’s a humdinger.  Iglesias’ talents are simply amazing.  I don’t know how he manages to match Almodóvar tone for tone in all of his movies, though, when I think about it, maybe it’s not that hard — Almodóvar might be the most “musical” of all film directors.  The emotional landscapes he chooses to explore are the very interstitial places that are usually accessible to harmony alone.

But no, Alberto Iglesias is really pretty amazing.

ps. I just found out that Dan Tepfer, who I’m mildly obsessed with because of his exquisite work on the new Bach Goldberg Variations/Variations album (which you should all buy and listen to immediately), wrote his second ever blog post on The Skin I Live In.  It may be time to change that ‘mildly’ to ‘intensely’.  I’ll try to keep it short of ‘unhealthily’.

Gear Up!

New Year’s Eve means one thing: The Vienna Phil doing what it does best:

I think one sort of has to wonder about a culture who’s greatest thrill comes from clapping along at the appointed time with an orchestral march.  “Ach ja, now is ze time vhen ve make viss ze clapping!” [Speaker proceeds to wet himself with excitement]

I love this article hyping the concert from China’s Xinhua news agency:

“Out of the respect and appreciation to his extremely rich experience in conducting of symphony orchestra,” the Orchestra chose Pretre as the conductor of the New Year Concert for the second time, according to Hellsberg.

One has to wonder just what translation path that went down to reach us Anglophones… German to Chinese to English? More stops along the way?

PS. Did you notice that Humphrey Burton, i.e. Lennyz assistant was the director of the ’87 NYE concert featured above?  Interesting…

In other news, I saw Avatar and Los Abrazos Rotos, the latter of which will stand out to regular readers of this blog as a film that I’ve been pining to see for months now.  More on the film later, but for the time being, will somebody please give Alberto Iglesias an Academy Award for Best Film Score?  I mean come on, this guy is so the natural heir to Bernard Herrmann, though he writes with tremendous originality:

“El Espía Atrapado” from Los Abrazos Rotos

Who the hell else is going to write this stuff in a movie?

“Valsetto” from La Mala Educación

I’ll tell you who’s not: James Horner, that’s for goddamn sure… ugh, “Avatar” was such an embarrassing pastiche of “Indian” music (and not the good kind, like Ethel’s below), quasi-Irish folk, a few classical quotations, and… well, James Horner (did anybody else hear a half quote of “My Heart Will Go On” at several points during the movie?)  Didn’t James Cameron say on Charlie Rose that he worked with a musicologist to create a native musical language for this alien planet?  What an opportunity for some crazy-ass microtonal debauchery, but I suppose things like that just don’t fly in a Hollywood Blockbuster.

Anyhoo, here’s hoping for a New Year replete with a Spanish-American Oscar feud, a microtonal Hollywood film score,  a restoration of the Vienna Phil, and all other manners of decade-opening marvels!