When the Esquire Theatre reopened a couple decades ago, many of us hoped it would show a healthy percentage of experimental or “art” movies from around the world, and fortunately it has. Because of the historic Clifton theatre, we have a place to see movies by directors like Spanish director Pedro Almodovar, whose Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is probably his most famous film. His 2011 film, The Skin I’m In, was a brilliant and spine-chilling study of gender and identity. For reasons that do not need explaining if you saw the film (and would spoil the film if you haven’t), I felt serious non-comfort while watching the film, but I walked away knowing that I had undergone a unique and intense film experience.
Almodovar’s new film, I’m So Excited, is night-and-day different from its predecessor, to the point where I wouldn’t have known it was the same director…except both films are miles from mainstream cinema. In fact, one of the intriguing things about I’m So Excited is how this silly, wacked-out and absurd flick references conventional movies and TV shows while turning them on their head.
The plot’s simple enough: shortly after an airplane leaves the ground the crew discovers technical glitches, and these folks are about as interested in getting to the bottom of the matter as the Marx Brothers would have been. The crew is too interested in having sex and taking drugs and sharing life stories that are about as plausible as accidentally dropping a cell phone from the top of a bridge into the purse of a passerby who happens to be a previous lover of the man who was talking to the person who dropped the phone…which also happens. Very little seems plausible; cause and effect go out the door, and the film has more coincidences than a Victorian novel. Somehow all the characters, including a dominatrix and a hit man, have happy endings, calling to mind fluff like Love Boat or Fantasy Island, where in the space of one episode characters are transformed in a manner that only be described as pat….Impressively, I’m So Excited outpats them all.
Both the critics and Almodovar have discussed potential metaphysical underpinnings to the movie, but don’t let that scare you away. Personally, I’m more interested in the surface. The opening credits include graphics and breezy bossa nova-ish jazz that seemed straight out of a sixties film, and partly I see the movie as the descendant of a decade that may always be looked upon as the strangest period in film history.
When I called The Esquire today to see if I’m So Excited was going to stick around for at least one more week (it is) I discovered that the new film by Danish director Thomas Vinterberg, The Hunt, starts Friday (August 2). Here’s the trailer for The Hunt: