Tag Archives: Bigas Luna


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Teté and the Moon, The Tit and the Moon


FEATURING: Mathilda May, Biel Durán, Gérard Darmon, Miguel Poveda

PLOT: Frustrated at losing access to his mother’s chest following the birth of his baby brother, young Teté becomes enraptured with Estrellita, a dancer who comes to town as part of a traveling show; he competes for her attentions with her husband as well as a lovestruck young man.

Still from Teta y La Launa (1994)

COMMENTS: Part of the charm – and also the frustration – of the coming-of-age film is that it relies on the point of view of someone too young to fully understand the world around them. An innocent, unburdened by years of maturity and perspective. We watch them with a combination of longing for their ignorance and sympathy for their embarrassment.

La Teta y La Luna doubles down on this by handing over the narration to its central character, Teté. Not a grown-up Teté looking back at his youthful folly with rueful hindsight, mind you, but the boy himself, speaking in the past tense but still deep in the thrall of his adolescent, unearned bravado. When he confidently tells us that he “devastated” a foe’s motorcycle, we can see for ourselves that he’s lamely kicking it to no effect. So he would seem to be an extremely unreliable narrator indeed. Except when it’s surely our eyes that deceive us. For when Teté informs us that every woman in a bodega is offering her breasts to him, what we see is exactly that. How could this possibly be? Surely this is wishful thinking to the greatest extreme.

For you see – to paraphrase Loudon Wainwright III –  Teté is a “tit man.” Ever since his newborn brother arrived, the pleasure of suckling at his mother’s teat has been denied to him, and he has been in search of a replacement. (The title pulls off a neat double meaning, referencing both the main character and his overriding obsession.) So the one thing we can trust absolutely is that he immediately settles upon Estrellita, the beautiful dancer who has just come to Teté’s small oceanfront village.

He’s hardly alone in being drawn to the comely ballerina, which complicates our understanding of the film’s point of view. Teté’s teenage rival, Miguel, is nearly sick with longing from the moment he encounters Estrellita and begins to sing to her with a voice that should earn him a gig fronting the Gipsy Kings. There’s nothing ironic or misleading about his pain. Meanwhile, Estrellita’s husband Maurice is given all the hallmarks of parody: despite looking like a grizzled and silver-maned biker, Maurice’s talent is as a modern-day successor to Le Petomane, and Estrellita makes love to him on their trailer waterbed and collects his tears in a jar while he makes her eat a baguette which he wields in place of his manhood. He’s ridiculous even as he cuts a dashing figure, but again we don’t doubt what we see. If we can take Miguel and Maurice at face value, who’s to say that Teté isn’t exactly what he presents to us?

So let us now turn to the object of all their affections. Mathilda May has already distinguished herself in these hallowed halls as a beautiful actress who is willing to put her full and uncovered beauty on display, and that reputation is certainly burnished here. If we are to believe Teté, she is ready and willing to provide him with access to a veritable firehose of milk from her bared breast. Luna’s camera is as in love with Estrellita’s chest as most of the male characters. But this objectification becomes extremely awkward in the face of Estrellita’s increasing discomfort. She dotes on her husband, and he responds with jealousy and resentment. She shows her unease with Miguel’s repeated declarations of love, but loses agency in the face of his increasing threats of self-harm. And we never even get to see what would logically be her concerns with Teté’s blunt and inappropriate requests. (For Teté, none of this appears to be sexual, but it surely is for her.) For the princess at the heart of this fairy tale, there’s a worrisome ignorance of her needs and fears. La Teta y La Luna is obsessed with Estrellita’s chest, but not much with the heart that beats underneath.

The film wraps up with a happy ending for everyone, most significantly for Teté, who gets to feed from both Estrellita and his own mother, a conclusion that bears no resemblance to anything approaching reality. The tone throughout is bright and charming, but it’s a strange and selfish lesson this tale delivers: “Persist and you’ll get what you want, fellas.” It’s a tale as old as time, but maybe it’s time for a rethink.


“Completely perverted, totally surreal, but irresistibly charming.”– Henrik Sylow, DVD Beaver (DVD)\

(This movie was nominated for review by Wormhead, who called it “a surrealistic spanish/french film by Bigas Luna.” Suggest a weird movie of your own here.)





FEATURING: Zelda Rubinstein, , Talia Paul

PLOT: An audience watches a movie about a serial killer under hypnotic control by his mother killing off patrons of a movie theater, while themselves being victims of an obsessed killer prowling their own theater.

Still from Anguish (1987)

WHY IT MIGHT MAKE THE LIST: You are getting very sleepy, back and forth, watch the metronome. Once you were like a snail, hiding in your shell. Now you’re on an elevator, going down to the twentieth floor, the nineteenth, the eighteenth… when you land, you will become one with us in nominating this unique thriller onto the List as one of the weirdest film experiences to be fooouuunnnd.

COMMENTS: As you read this review, if at any time you feel your mind leaving your body, you should cease reading immediately. Your humble author didn’t follow this warning, and look how I turned out. No really, we’re just passing along the William Castle-like warnings from the beginning of the film. But it’s good advice anyway, because this horror flick starts out invoking standard slasher fare, but ends up reminding you more of The Cabin in the Woods. We meet the creepy old lady Alice (Zelda Rubinstein) and her grown adult son John (Michael Lerner, also in Barton Fink) who live together in a house otherwise occupied by pet snails and pigeons. John is an eye doctor who is ironically going blind as a result of untreated diabetes, and his mother hypnotizes him into murdering people so he can harvest their eyes for her. Not that she’s motivated to cure his ailing vision; oh no, the eyes are just to increase her witchy powers. Among her many talents is the ability to remotely hear conversations by listening to a seashell, and project her own consciousness into her son’s mind when he’s out and about. And for a man losing his vision, John throws a pretty mean scalpel anyway.

But did you think that was the whole movie? Ha, just kidding, this is actually a movie about a theater audience watching the above movie, and getting melodramatically distressed at it. As the hypnotic scenes commence, the audience falls under the spell, variously swaying into a trance, or squirming uncomfortably as if they were held against their will to watch. Ah, but we go back to the movie they’re watching, and now John, in a quest for fresh victims at his mother’s behest, invades yet another movie theater showing The Lost World. Even this black-and-white dinosaur adventure holds its audience enthralled enough to provide great cover for John to quietly off the victims and collect the eyeballs, in between dinosaur roars. A young lady leaves what is revealed to be the theater showing The Mommy, where we’re now starting to get lost as to which layer of of movie we’re in. As we follow the distressed girl getting her bearings in the theater bathroom, we realize that she wasn’t watching The Lost World, but The Mommy, the movie we’ve been mostly concerned with up until now.

Just when we’re begging not to get anymore confused, a new murder plot forms around the people watching The Mommy. As the events of The Mommy continue, the movie theater staff and eventually the audience watching it are preyed upon by a new killer, even as John in The Mommy scalpels victims in his own theater while this new killer prefers a trusty gun. From here on out, events blur between the two theaters, as the film practically dares you to keep up. The new killer huddles in the bathroom and also babbles “mother”; it turns out he’s a fan obsessed with The Mommy. Both killers barricade the doors of their respective theaters, the better to trap victims for an all-out rampage. At times you’re watching an audience watching an audience, at other times you’re asking which bathroom we’re in, and at times even The Lost World’s events blend with the various audiences’ experiences. And guess what? We’re not done shifting points of reality yet, because it turns out we were watching a movie in a movie in a movie… or something. And you thought Inception was hard to follow!

If you’re a big fan of Zelda Rubinstein, who also plays the spooky psychic from the Poltergeist series, then this is your party. Rubinstein dominates the earliest film, her dulciloquent baby-doll voice rasping away and chanting hypnotic spells as her face fills the screen in between shots of whirling spirals, ticking metronomes, rocking lights, and sometimes shots filmed with a spinning camera—bring your barf bag. This goes on for most of the inner movie (and the movie’s movie, and the movie’s movie’s movie…), and when it’s not, the visuals establish artistic motifs around eyes and spirals until it switches to the stacked-movie premise, which invites us to ponder the thin wall between violent movies and obsessed fans (which gets uncomfortably close to later real-life events, even). Anguish does everything it can to drill itself into your conscious. It’s a corkscrew roller-coaster ride through a hall of mirrors, smartly setting you up for an expectation and then veering off into a new curve. While it has some flaws, such as the secondary cast at times giving  performances so wooden they smells like lemony furniture polish, Anguish works its ass off to end up giving you several movies in one.


“Well, after seeing it in an actual movie theatre (one eerily similar to the two featured in the film), I can safely say that this deeply weird endeavour definitely needs to be seen at a proper movie theatre.”–Yum-Yum, House of Self-Indulgence