Rainer Werner Fassbinder - Querelle (1982)

Fassbinder's Querelle is a film I'd been meaning to watch for a long time. It left me, however, vaguely disappointed. It's a gorgeous film, resplendent in dark smouldering colours, shot entirely on evocative sets with heavy-handedly metaphorical scenery. The music is also well done, with classical themes both accompanying and contrasting the stylised, dark and violent action; as well as Madame Lysiane's (an excellent Jeanne Moreau) Piaf-esque musical version of Wilde's Ballad of Reading Gaol, a haunting refrain which accompanies us throughout the film.

However, one is left asking what this book adds to Genet's masterful, erotic and bewildering Querelle de Brest (it is specifically noted that this is a film about Genet's novel, but for all intents and purposes it is an adaptation). Brad David is certainly attractive as Querelle; but to my mind he loses Querelle's vulnerability, and this could be a metaphor for the work overall. The strong presence of the abject in Genet's novel, of shit and stench and dirt, is transmuted into a Pierre et Giles vision in which dirt is only present when it highlights perfection. Genet's stylised dialogue sits oddly in (this) film, as do the highly stylised ritual fight scenes which stray into absurdity. Genet's heady fusion of the emotional, the erotic, the intellectual, the abject, of the slums and the ivory towers, becomes awkward; while any rendering of his unreliable and ever-shifting authorial voice, always a hallmark of his work, is not attempted. The decision to insert slabs of text between scenes (not, it should be added in fairness, in any way intended to further the plot) seems already an admission of failure to fully translate the work into its new medium.

Overall, then, I would class this work a failure, in that it transmutes Genet's complex work into little more than a piece of homoerotic kitsch; nonetheless, an interesting failure, when considered as a piece of more than usually complex, and visually arresting camp kitsch.

x-posted to cult_movie

Stephen O'Shea - The Perfect Heresy: The Life and Death of the Cathars (2000)

As someone whose field of study deals with the worst elements of human behaviour en masse, I often think that, much as I wouldn't want to be, I've become inured, at least to some degree, to the acts which people will perpetrate upon each other in the name not only of power, but of abstract ideology. This book was a reminder of how capable of being shocked and filled with incomprehension I remain.

TPH is perhaps one of the best-written works of popular history I've come across - by no means a doorstop, it reads easily and compulsively without losing its usefulness as a detailed historical account with useful academic references.

The narrative deals with the Cathars, a heretical Medieval Christian group, their ascendancy in Languedoc in what is now southern France in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the Crusades organised by the Pope to destroy them and, in the process, the region, and the aftermath of their destruction. This episode (now incorporated in works such as Eco's The Name of the Rose, and, lamentably, the mythology of works like The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail and The Da Vinci Code) is fascinating for its exploration of Catharism, something like a mix between Protestantism and Eastern religions. This was a more-or-less dualist belief holding that life on Earth was in fact Hell, and that the material world was a creation of a dark force, identified with the false God of the Old Testament; and that, therefore, the Catholic Church itself, in its materialism and power hungriness, was an extreme manifestation of evil. Reincarnation eventually allowed the person who lived a good life to escape this Hell-as-earth. Cathar 'perfects' could be female as well as male, and renounced the material, including monetary wealth, meat, and sexual relationships; while 'credentes', or believers, were free from the restrictions placed upon individuals by the Church (sex only within marriage, the paying of tithes, the threat of excommunication, and so forth).

Understandably, Catharism (similar believers included the Bogomils in Eastern Europe, from whom the term 'bugger' eventually derives due to Church descriptions of their proclivities) gained a growing following, strongest in the Languedoc area. And this is where the subject begins to shape the present. Successive Popes, (the first, ironically, Innocent III, followed by Gregory IX) organised Crusades from Northern Europe to crush the Cathars and their regional strongholds. This included hideous mass mutilations, burnings, and the mass murder of entire towns. The Cathar wars shaped the states of Europe as we know them today, defining Languedoc as a part of France as it fell under Northern control, rather than, as could otherwise have been, an area incorporating Languedoc and Aragon in Northern Spain. The aftermath of the ultimate victory of the Catholic Church played out in the establishment of the Inquisition, and of both the Franciscan and Dominican orders; and, argue some, instituted the same 'persecuting society' in which we live today.

The senselessness of the wanton destruction and murder, the crushing of a relatively benign and culturally flowering feudal troubadour culture as well as a decentralised system of governance, and the chillingly relentless persecution of a sect which seems, to modern eyes light years ahead of other belief systems at the time, brings one to ask how anyone could believe that this would be what the biblical Jesus wanted, and to meditate on the fact that the content of systems of belief is not particularly important; the nature of human society ensures that they will be used for the same ends, that is the violent establishment of domination. Nonetheless, despite not being much of a Francophile, this book incited in me the desire to visit the landscapes over which the narrative roams; and so, as a reading experience, horror is tempered with romance and fascination. Recommended for anyone interested in the medieval period, in organised religion and dissent, in French or Western European history... or simply for a work which is at the same time edifying, horrifying, and fascinating.

x-posted to talkbooks

Essays On Dolls - Heinrich von Kleist, Charles Baudelaire, Rainer Maria Rilke (1994)

This slim volume, in Penguin's Syrens series, collects three essays: von Kleist's On the Marionette Theatre (1810), Baudelaire's The Philosophy of Toys (1853), and Rilke's Dolls: On the wax dolls of Lotte Pritzel (1913/14). It's a remarkable collection, demonstrating the casual yet weighty essay style which in our age has become the realm of the polemicist alone.

von Kleist's conversational, but dense, essay, concerns a master dancer's discussion of marionettes, dolls which are attached to those who manipulate them only by one string placed at the centre of gravity. The joy of these dolls, says the dancer, is that they are unselfconscious, free from affectation, and weightless. Grace (and here we see a confluence of divine grace, and gracefulness), argues Kleist, exists in opposition to thought. In the human form, it can only be reconciled in the inanimate (the soulless), or the divine (the infinite soul).

Baudelaire takes us from a childhood experience in a rich woman's fantasyland of toys, to a discussion of the way in which playing with toys is the first expression of abstraction and imagination (though Baudelaire excludes from this those children who 'merely' recreate adult situations - and here there is a certain misogyny in evidence in his scorn for female children playing at childish women - and also excludes 'men-children' who collect, rather than play with, their toys - a problematic argument, to my mind, since this might be read as a symptom either of anxiety or of possessiveness, but not, certainly, as a lack of creativity). But the ultimate desire of a child is to see the soul of a toy, and for this reason, at some time or another, the child breaks the toy. Just as playing marks the beginning of abstraction and imagination, so the failure to find the soul gives the first sensation of stupor and melancholy. And so, we might conclude, imagination and creativity are inextricably linked with disappointment and melancholy...

Rilke takes us to darker places yet. He begins with an examination of the dolls, made for artistic exhibition to adults, of Lotte Pritzel - these, according to Idris Parry, the editor and translator, were elongated, emaciated figures dressed in weird gauzy costumes suggestive of dance, decadence, and a Beardsley-esque atmosphere of eroticism and melancholy.

This is Rilke's introduction to his argument on the way in which dolls, in contrast to other everyday objects which gain by their integration into human life, are 'gruesome foreign bodies' on which our affection is entirely squandered, dense repositories of forgetfulness, so devoid of imagination that, at an age in which it was impossible to truly interact with other humans but only to lose ourselves in them, they can be used to establish distance between the self and the external world, as they become repositories for split or opposing parts of that self as it expands. But we rage at these creatures, because they do not need us, and we have wasted our affection on them (and the doll's lack of response gives us the lovely thought that silence confers considerable importance in a world where both destiny and God 'have become famous mainly by not speaking to us'). The doll helps the child become used to things; but it also inspires the first bitterness of wasted tenderness. Of all toys, the doll is soulless, or rather the self is uncertain whether the doll's soul resides in the self or in the doll; dolls have a quality of not being present. They are thus kept in existence only by a monumental mental effort combining anxiety and magnanimity, but we can never entirely detach ourselves from this experience of the uncertainty of the other, our desire to create them, our rage at the fact that they will never return what we gave in the spirit of expectations with which we gave it. And these adult dolls of Pritzel's? They are are dolls who have 'entered into all the unrealities of their own lives', have become an unnerving symbol only of the permanent sensuality of the doll, 'into which nothing flows and from which nothing escapes'.

These reflections on creation in our own image essentially concern the constructed nature of the self and the sensual, the physical, the material and its relation to the soul or the spirit. They inform our understanding not only of their subject but of works from Coppelia to Hans Bellmer's Doll, and the perennial fear of dolls and mannequins expressed in films from House of Wax to Child's Play. It's no coincidence that that most of the earliest examples of works of creativity are human forms, or that man made god make man in his own image...

x-posted to againstnature, strange_tears, talkbooks
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Read (to) me... (http://www.kovideo.net/lyrics/Biftek-Read-To-Me-s774827.html)

Having determined to see a film in the German Film Festival, I went to see Grave Decisions (Wer Früher Stirbt, Ist Länger Tot), a cute and sometimes fantastic story about death and immortality, which follows Sebastian, a mischievous eleven year old boy whose discovery that he 'caused' his mother's death in childbirth kicks off a quest for immortality, with various misadventures along the way... while it was a fluffy comedy, it was beautifully made, well acted, funny, and, in the way that European comedies can be, lighthearted without being irritating or cliched (the tone, though not the subject matter, reminded me of The Closet and similar films).

And, since the pile of books I've read without having had the chance or the time to review is growing out of control, I thought I'd just do a quick roundup here.

John Lanchester - Mr. Phillips (2000)
I loved Lanchester's The Debt To Pleasure, so I approached MP apprehensively - but while it doesn't have the same refined nastiness which is one of my favourite things in a novel, it's still worthwhile. The story follows the eponymous accountant, who, rather than going to work, spends a day wandering around London, thinking about sex, and quantifying everything, while stumbling into various more and less dramatic situations. Lanchester has a gift for knifesharp observation of the minutiae of everyday reality which is apparent here - and the very English tone of the work, its workmanlike but Larkinesque language, the exploration of the bleak and sordid without being depressing, and of London as an environment - made it both an easy and an interesting read.

Maurice Gee - The Halfmen of O (1982)
Not, as you may think, a children's version of The Story of O - I seemed to remember this book from my childhood - but, sadly, it doesn't live up to the work of the New Zealand children's fantasy author who I most think of when I think of childhood reading, Margaret Mahy. It's not a bad work, but not entirely gripping - and the premise is problematic: that, in an alternate world, an act of power hungriness has divided human beings into those who are purely good and those who are purely evil. Not terrible, but disappointing.

Hilary Mantel - Vacant Possession (1986)
I love Bernice Rubens and Alice Thomas Ellis, so to complete the square of politely dark and nasty Thatcher-era English comedies of manners I needed Beryl Bainbridge, and Hilary Mantel. Vacant Possession is the story of Muriel Axon, unhinged and just released into society as part of the era of de-institutionalisation - with dangerous consequences for those with whom her former life had become entangled: Colin Sidney and Isabel Field. This novel is very much concerned with class, and no class avoids a satirical serve from Mantel's poison pen; its other concern is the nature of intimate relationships. I enjoyed the novel, though not as much as I do either Ellis or Rubens - and it gained momentum as the story unfolded and events folded together - my main criticism was the ending - I wasn't sure if it was intentionally ambiguous, or if my intellect wasn't up to understanding what had happened. Still, very much my kind of thing, and recommended to those who share my literary proclivities.

Catharine Arnold - Necropolis: London and its Dead (2006)
This work takes us through burial practice in London, from the earliest records to the present day. For the most part, however, we find ourselves in the pre-Victorian and Victorian eras, exploring a growing cultural obsession with death and burial and changes in discourse around these issues - and the gruesome consequences of the burgeoning field of medicine, and of the massive disparities in wealth which meant that the rich had a black couch and eight while the poor were thrown into huge, open mass graves to decay. Arnold's writing isn't perfect, which sometimes bogs down the narrative. However, her subject matter is easily interesting enough to hold the work, and to hold the reader's interest. A fascinating work of cultural history which not only explores the enthralling intricacies and historical trivia of death and dying, physically and culturally, but which also has a great deal to tell us about the more general nature of societies through its exploration of its subject.

Hubert Selby Jr. - Last Exit To Brooklyn (1964)
I hadn't read Selby, as I'd classed him, along with Bukowski and the Beats, as one of those substance-addled, masculinist chroniclers of alternative life who have little to offer anyone except the adolescent, or mentally adolescent, male. How wrong I was! While I often like my darkness with lashings of the fantastic, rather than grimy reality, that's been changing over the last few years with my growing interest in figures like Jean Genet, Lydia Lunch, and now Selby. The book is a series of connected stories, sometimes vignettes, treating the seamy sexual, narcotic, criminal underside of life in Brooklyn in the forties and fifties through a series of characters. The writing is absolutely gorgeous, spare but poetic, as is the dialogue and observation - and I must say, if it wasn't for this, the depressing and awful nature of the lives depicted would have had me closing the book long before. This is a work which in one sense is entirely located historically, but in another is still entirely relevant to and reflective of the dark underbelly of civil society - in particular, how its outcasts inflict their pain upon each other. It still reads like a paean, an indictment, and a slap in the face. I'll be reading more Selby - when I'm emotionally recovered.
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John Kennedy Toole - The Neon Bible (wr. 1953; pub. 1989)

Before being given this book, I hadn't realised that John Kennedy Toole, who killed himself at the age of thirty-two, had produced anything other than the wonderful, rollicking black satire A Confederacy of Dunces; and the story behind the publication of that work (due entirely to the persistent efforts of Toole's mother, Thelma, after his death) seemed astonishing enough. In some ways, the publication of The Neon Bible was even more unlikely. Written when the author was only sixteen and located after the wildly succesful publication of Confederacy, due to a complicated but somehow appropriate set of legal circumstances stemming from the oddities of Lousianan inheritance law, Thelma Toole attempted, succesfully during her lifetime, to stop the publication of the work. We have reason, however, to be grateful that she was ultimately unsuccesful.

This is an entirely different work to Confederacy, and one which will not appeal to everyone who enjoyed that novel. It is in a certain sense a classic example of the American outsider bildungsroman, following the development of its protagonist, David, in a small Louisiana town in the period preceding, during and after the Second World War.

In the first place, it's astonishing to consider that this is the work of a sixteen year old. While at times this is clearer than others (for example, in the hasty, out-of-character, and temporally overconvenient events leading to the end of the book and David's departure from the town), overall it displays an emotional maturity and a use of language which bely the author's youth. To me, the work didn't have the narrative pull of Confederacy; but it's more of an exploration than a story, a work in which the town itself is a character in the same way that New Orleans is in Confederacy, and in the classic American tradition of the centrality of geographical location in fiction. This may also be understood as one reason for the novel's sombre tone; as in Confederacy, we are concerned with outsiders, the way in which they deal with their status as such through complex and shifting alliances and acts of acceptance and rebellion - and to be an outsider in a small town is a very different question from being an outsider in a big city. The depiction of the torments and vicissitudes of this life are moving without becoming a litany of cruelties in the manner of more recent 'loser literature'.

In its exploration of small town hypocrisy and the stifling of the individual and the outsider, particularly as regards Christianity, and in its quasi-gothic sense of place and spare, stilted, yet still eloquent language, TNB reminded me of works from Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood to Nick Cave's And the Ass Saw The Angel. The other great strength of the work, to my mind, is the character of Aunt Mae who, like the central characters in Confederacy, is a creation who lives and breathes in the imagination of the reader beyond the confines of the novel itself.

Overall, while it is evident that this is the work of a writer in the process of formation, it is a better book than many written by succesful adult authors; and one which can be given interesting multiple readings, both in light of Toole's life and Confederacy, and in the tradition of the obsessions of the American novel.

x-posted to talkbooks


When people ask me what I do, I expect their faces to fall and a brief awkward silence when I tell them I study genocide.

I'll ignore, for a moment, the possible nature of the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the problematics of Elie Wiesel (as enumerated by Norman Finkelstein), and those of gendered language, to quote the following passage, which, selfish as it in some ways may seem (though I do believe that genuine care of the self, which is not the same as selfishness, is the best and only way to care for others), is to me the best summary of why I do what I do given the personal toll it extracts, and given my pessimism about the possibility of change:

One of the Just Men came to Sodom, determined to save its inhabitants from sin and punishment. Night and day he walked the streets and markets preaching against greed and theft, falsehood an indifference. In the beginning, people listened and smiled ironically. Then they stopped listening: he no longer even amused them. The killers went on killing, the wise kept silent, as if there were no Just Man in their midst.

One day a child, moved by compassion for the unfortunate preacher, approached him with these words: 'Poor stranger. You shout, you expend yourself body and soul; don't you see that it is hopeless?'
'Yes, I see,' answered the Just Man.
'Then why do you go on?'
'I'll tell you why. In the beginning, I thought I could change man. Today, I know I cannot. If I still shout today, if I still scream, it is to prevent man from ultimately changing me.'

Elie Wiesel, One Generation After.

Live through this... (Pet Shop Boys, Jarvis Cocker, The Pixies, V Festival)

It's been a gruelling two weeks of gigs, to which I have subjected myself in the name of edification and the pursuit of musical knowledge.

The unquestionable highlight was the Pet Shop Boys last night at the Hordern. I haven't been to the Hordern since my teens, but it's still more or less as I remember it - and since I was there with an absolute fanatic, I turned up at seven to get a place centre front, just behind the barrier. Now this, gentle reader, is something I don't usually do at gigs, because if there's one thing that makes me unable to concentrate on watching a band it's fear for my physical safety - but Pet Shop Boys didn't seem like it'd be that kind of environment, and it wasn't (now if only I could do something about all the people with cameras - whatever happened to good old fashioned memory?). They certainly know how to put on a show, complete with dancers, backup singers featuring the formidable diva Sylvia Mason-James, and even a giant dancing top hat to, ahem, top it all off. The thing the Pet Shop Boys do so well, and which few other bands manage, is the transition between the sublime and the ridiculous, between deep, heartfelt emotion, detached irony, self-reflexive as well as non-overtly-political satire, and silly hats.

Chris maintains his detached stance (despite a rather gorgeous yellow fluorescent hoodie - and I never though I'd call something fluorescent yellow gorgeous) behind the keyboards, while Neil, who gives off just the nicest vibe - you'd love to have high tea with him - is a still, anchoring presence, with a raised eyebrow and a half-smile, in the midst of the performance. The visuals also add a great deal to the work - I'm With Stupid, for example, which is not a favourite of mine, gains a new dimension with British and US flags splashed across a giant screen. And I got Flamboyant, my current favourite PSB track, which I'd been hoping for. But the absolute highlight was an understated, moving version of Rent.

The other solo shows I've been to, Jarvis Cocker and the Pixies, were both more mixed. Jarvis's new work is to my mind rather banal and forgettable - and seeing him live didn't do much to change my opinion on that score. On the other hand, it's Jarvis - you almost wish that he'd just abandon the music and do standup. His stylised dance moves have suffered not the slightest with age - and neither has his banter. Perhaps the most amusing moment was his interrogation as to the nature of Ipswich in Australia - which in one of his songs is used as an exemplar of a place you really, really wouldn't want to go (I don't think he quite realised the aptness of that in the Australian context...) Or, on the other hand, it could've been his interrogation of the pair of undies that was thrown on stage. And, dash it all, he's just so incredibly cute. Despite the musical blandness, I didn't for a moment regret going to the show (I would've liked some Pulp material, and could've done without the Springsteen cover - but I understand why he wouldn't want to play that, and cover-wise you can't win 'em all...)

If Jarvis was a larger-than-life personality but muscially bland, the Pixies were the obverse. Though the sound at the Big Top left a great deal to be desired, it was great to hear them - I was particularly excited that they opened with In Heaven, a cover of a song on the Eraserhead soundtrack, and I got the song I'd been hanging out for, Nimrod's Son, along with the majority of their other well-known work (although they've apparently disowned Bam Thwok, which I think is a shame, as I've decided that is actually a good song). But there just didn't seem to be much else happening - except for the dowdy Kim, who was a chain-smoking sweetheart, they simply stood on stage and played, which is something I don't like in a performance - and at times seemed fairly unrehearsed, as in the chaotic La La Love You. So, again, I wasn't sorry I'd gone - it's the Pixies, after all - but it did leave something to be desired.

And, finally, the V Festival, at which I saw all of the above and, well, the only other band I payed any attention to were Nouvelle Vague (even though they'd mistreated me by doing only a secret sideshow - but I hear they're coming back soon). Despite the utter inappropriateness of the venue for their loungey bossa nova covers of seventies and eighties alternative classics, they were a joy to watch, with their oh-so-French charm and a singer who was rather cute in that classically European, au naturelle way. The only thing I would've wished for is that they would've done some of the lesser known songs, which are my favourites of theirs - Sorry For Laughing, say, or Making Plans For Nigel - rather than a run through of the best-known songs they cover (Too Drunk To Fuck, Love Will Tear Us Apart, etc).

I haven't been to a festival for years, and though V had somewhat of an amateur-hour feel (you could tell that it's the first time it's been put on), it had a fairly laid back atmosphere - at least if, like me, you weren't drinking (the bar queues stretched halfway across the festival). But it reminded me why I dislike festivals - drunken yobbos in particular - and also of the way in which, for all my faults, I was raised with a communitarian consciousness. Doesn't the girl sitting on her boyfriend's shoulders ever think for a second that her pleasure is thirty other people's displeasure?

That aside, though, it was a fun and relaxed afternoon. Pet Shop Boys were spectacular, though I was glad I was going to the solo gig, as their set was essentially a best of; the Pixies (I only caught the end of their set) seemed to have it a lot more together, and with a lot better sound quality (which is saying something, given that it was outdoors); and Jarvis was, if anything, cuter than in his solo show, noting for example that Australian 'gobstoppers' wouldn't stop anything, except maybe a dog's arse - if it was cold enough...

So I now have, oh, two hours or so to breathe before I head out tonight to continue my unwonted live musical odyssey - not to mention what might be the last time I do the closing set at Ascension for some time... I was thinking of doing a 'greatest hits' of my closing sets, running through deathrock, oldschool industrial, and, of course, my signature eighties... but since I won't be drinking, don't expect Mickey or Belinda Carlisle. You've been warned that you don't need to be warned...
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All About My Mother ('Todo sobre mi madre', dir. Pedro Almodovar, 1999)

Ever since I've watched the wonderful Hable con ella ('Talk To Her'), the film which followed this one, I've been meaning to watch its predecessor, and I finally got around to it. While I didn't enjoy AAMM as much as TTH, I nonetheless enjoyed it a great deal.

The plot follows Manuela (Cecilia Roth), a single mother in Madrid. When her teenage son Esteban (Eloy Azorin) dies in a car accident, she heads to Barcelona to find his trans father (with whom she has had nothing to do in the intervening time), 'Lola' (Toni Canto). But in Barcelona, she becomes entangled with Agrado (Antonia San Juan), another trans and an old hooker friend; the actress Huma Rojo (Marisa Peredes), whose autograph Esteban was pursuing when he was killed; and Rosa (Penelope Cruz), a nun who works with prostitutes and the homeless.

Every major character in this film is either a woman, or is attempting to be one. Almodovar's take on women (in his later, more 'serious' films) is fascinating. His characters are rich and complex, light years from typical stereotypes of the female by the male; but at the same time, the cinematic gaze seems to objectify these bizarre and all-too-human creatures in an uncomfortable way. While there were moral ambiguities (as there should be), however, AAMM doesn't have the same level of sexual problematics as TTH (in which we sympathise with the rapist of a woman in a coma). But Almodovar forces the viewer, or at least this viewer, to forgive him his trespasses through the nuanced picture he represents, the compelling characters, and the sheer visual gorgeousness of his films.

The narrative of the film itself is bound up with two meta-narratives; All About Eve (which Manuela and Esteban watch together in the opening moments) and A Streetcar Named Desire (in which Huma Rojo performs on the fateful night of Esteban's death). And these reveal to us the theme of the story - that is, the nature of identity, as expressed in: the roles we play to hide the masks beneath and to recreate them in our own idealised image, and the role of narrative in doing so; the contorted nature of sexual/ity and gender identification; the inestimable and sometimes unexpected effects and affects of loss, whether past or anticipated; and the in/escapable ties of biology; honesty and trust, betrayal and bitterness, and the weird mixture they all form which we call a relationship (not necessarily of a sexual nature).

I had a few, relatively minor issues - particularly, I was almost disappointed to finally meet the mysterious, treacherous, gorgeous, insufferable Lola. And I didn't find the emotional impact hit me as deeply as it did in TTH (the only other of Almodovar's later work that I've seen); there was just a skerrick of the irreverent 'surface-ness', cartoonish or kitsch emotional tone, which suffuses his earlier films. But overall, the film was a joy (and a sorrow), a richly rewarding examination of the knowable-ness and the creation and destruction of identity, our own and that of the Other/s, and the relationship between the two.
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