Spanish Fly

Sexy kitsch and stylish excess keep the films of Pedro Almodovar sizzling on the arthouse ciruit. Colette Maude talks to the Spanish director about

his latest offering, Kika.

ix years ago. the international success of Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown introduced many who would never dream of watching Spanish cinema to the wild world of director Pedro Almodovar. To those already converted, that film’s polished blend of high emotion and striking design merely confirmed his premier status. But from the kinky antics of his first feature. Pepi, Luci, Bom . . . to the murderous passions of his latest comedy. Kika. there has always been an edge to the laughter.

ln Kika. the eponymous heroine is sorely tested by crazed, selfish friends and lovers. She’s a cheerful make-up artist (Ve’ronica Forque’) whose relationship with fashion photographer Ramon is complicated by her affair with his mysterious author stepfather, played by Peter Coyote. ‘He looks like a writer. Not all actors have the face of writers.’ chuckles Almodovar, contemplating his American star. Ramén’s mother has apparently committed suicide and, adding to her problems, Kika has a mortal enemy in roving reporter Andrea Scarface (Victoria Abril, sporting amazing combat gear designed by Jean-Paul Gaultier), whose television show Today’s Worst features lurid, sensational, true-life stories. So when Kika is subjected to a prolonged rape, her

secretly taped ordeal ends up on the box.

Certainly the film is bleaker than Women On The Verge. Almodovar is commenting on the intrusive nature of so-called ‘reality’ television, but the film also appears to reflect the mood of a people caught in a worsening economy. ‘Four years ago. Spain was much better than now,’ he reckons. ‘We were all more optimistic, and now the country is much more depressed. We have an incredible economic crisis. The film is a comedy, but I decided to give it a twist. A movie that looks very funny becomes something very dark, really tragic.‘

He speaks in heavily accented English, leaning forward from the sofa in his hotel suite. With his mop of black hair and lively manner, he seems considerably younger than his 42 years. Born in La Mancha. Almodévar was a teenager when he fled the family home for Madrid, where he initially worked for the national telephone company. He became involved in theatre before starting on a series of short films, which led to Pepi, Luci, 80m . . . and the first of six collaborations with actress Carmen Maura, including Law Of Desire (in which she played a male transsexual) and Dark Habits (set in an unholy convent). There was a parting of ways after Women On The Verge and, although they have since reconciled. there have been no subsequent teamings.


Bigas Luna’s latest, Golden Balls, features hot ’n’ horny Spaniards obsessed with sex and building tower-blocks. He tells Trevor Johnston about those Costa del Sol erections.

arcelona-born Bigas Luna has been around. He started out as a concep- tual artist in the early 70$, moved on to the fringes of the Spanish film industry soon after, then went to and returned from Hollywood after a couple of movies in the early 805. lntemational recognition arrived, however, when his 1990 movie Jamon, Jamon an extremely Hispanic concoction of sex, macho attitudes and overheated dramatics became a substantial arthouse hit, largely on the strength of its signif- icantly high hide-the-chon’zo content.

His newest movie is, if anything, even more outrageous, with hunky male lead Javier Bardem this time strutting his well-filled tanga briefs as 3 Costa del Sol builder obsessed with eggs, women and, ehm, erections (if you see what I mean, and I think you do). The film’s Spanish

title, Huevos De Ora, translates directly as ‘golden eggs’, but the UK distributors, mindful of the packet that was made from the saucy Jamon Jamon, have gone for something a little more metaphorical. Ladies and gentlemen, we give you . . . Golden Balls.

‘I make films when I see something that fascinates me, and I’m fascinated by these macho guys,’ reflects the 48-year-old Catalan, a well-nourished and rather rotund figure clad all in black. ‘Every Spaniard has in his interior a little demon like Benito Gonzalez, the central character in Golden Balls. He’s a symbol of machismo and you also see so many guys like him in Madrid, in Alicante, all over Spain. On

‘Most of all, my intentions are to retransmit life. The need to eat, to dream, to travel, to make love. That is life in all its variety.’

the negative side, there’s also something in the soul of this individual that goes beyond virility. beyond what it means to be a man. He’s like a criminal with the women he uses. On the positive side, he’s got so much energy, like a little kid whojust wants to play with the biggest train set he can get his hands on. In the end, he’s

B The List 1—14 July 1994