An overbearing mother prepares her son for life in her absence, and makes him promise to keep wearing the mask. This short is a precursor to the new La Pietà.feature
366 Weird Movies may earn commissions from purchases made through product links.
DIRECTED BY: Eduardo Casanova
FEATURING: , Manel Llunell
PLOT: Young Mateo is diagnosed with cancer, much to the maternal delight of his uncommonly protective mother, Libertad.
COMMENTS: Nestled between the Venn diagram data sets for “Sledgehammer” and “Soft” lies La Pietà, Eduardo Casanova’s sophomore feature. If you’ll permit the flowery language, as the film’s leads would, there is, verily, a great deal of “nestling” here in general. The title card’s image, the climax’s mise en scene—and regularly throughout, one character is seen in the arms of another, especially young Mateo embraced by his suffocatingly loving mother. Libertad, for ’tis her name, loves her son to a degree so monumental it risks crushing him under the weight.
Within the confines of a sepulchral home wrought of soft-black marble and pink curtains, Mateo lives under the protective wing of the omnipresent Libertad. They dine together, watch television together, and occasionally sleep together. On the occasions they leave the home they (both) attend rehearsals for Libertad’s dance ensemble; later, when it is revealed one or both of them suffers a malady, they (both) spend time at hospital. Libertad is forever fretful her dear boy may wander off if he is not at her heels. Meanwhile, dear boy does often hear the siren’s call Outside That Door; a foray there triggers his downfall into complete dependency.
A parallel story concerns the family of a military official attempting to flee North Korea (the film is set just prior to the passing of Kim Jong-il), adding further to this obvious treatise on dictatorial behavior and the reliance cultivated in the subjected. Mother grills Mateo about the quality of his bowel movement over dinner; she offers to help him bathe, and insists on trimming his toenails (which becomes an unlikely plot point); and, when the lad is weakened by chemotherapy, Libertad finds his helplessness far too alluring. Mateo is vaguely aware of how this behavior is damaging him. As he navigates his world of soft-black stone and pink fabric, he has augurs and guides: his estranged father (who has mommy issues of his own), his therapist (trying to pry apart the symbiotic pair), and Consuelo, a mysterious hospital patient who desires her own freedom.
Nestled in the heavy-handedness (of both the mother and the director) are those subtleties I mentioned. Beneath the situational cringe humor lies a subtler vein of comedy. Libertad’s conversation with a hospital receptionist about pink ribbons for breast cancer is an honest-to-goodness chuckler (“There’s no color for brain cancer?”) Casanova references his debut, Skins, with a brief shot of “Poopie Loops”, whose box features the ass-faced woman. Mateo’s pregnant step mother’s insistence (yes, there is a lot of maternity going on) that she is not smoking when she demonstrably is makes for a bleakly amusing counterpoint to Libertad’s obsessive need for control.
Her control, in turn, reflects the director’s control of his sets, costumes, scenes, and choreography. La Pietà kicks off with a baroque dance number, which ticks along perfectly right until the singer collapses in a fit of helpless tears. But even in his overblown metaphors, Eduardo Casanova softens the edges with chiffony, pastel-pink.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:
“A Freudian field day, the campy-dark humor blends softly into surreal depictions of simulated birth, shared baths, full frontal bits on display and savage scenes of Mateo’s declining will to reject his mother’s authority.”–Holly Jones, Variety (festival screening)
Chicly sprawled over a chair or two, film director La Pietà [review], with the able assistance of his translator, Marta Calderon. Join 366 as we discover the influences on his visual style, his favorite hometown place to eat (of course),and just how great Giles’ mustache is.kindly answered our questions about his latest (and most personal) film,
(Keep an eye and ear out for a cameo by Madison Brek, Fantasia Press Relations Representative extraordinaire!)
You can listen to the interview’s raw audio here.
366: [handing over business card] This is who I am…
EC: “…Weird Movies”, okay!
366: ..and I guess that explains itself. My name is Giles Edwards and I am sitting here with Eduardo Casanova, and I managed to see La Pieta in the press screening the other day, and was very pleased with what I saw. So I am hoping to ask just a little about that in the brief time we have.
EC: I can understand you when you talk, but sometimes it is difficult for me to explain in English back, but when you talk I can understand.
366: Great. I’d like to start…
EC: I like your mustache! It is like‘ mustache. Some people say my movies are like John Waters’, too.
366: Yes, it’s a partial inspiration for it. I like to be as distinguished-looking as possible.
EC: Ahhh, you got it, bitch.
366: Uhh, …there is a strong visual feel to your films, I was curious about your visual arts background, because you have a setup for your images that is painterly or photographical–a lot of specific composition–and I was curious about your educational or experience background in that, what that might have been.
EC: I am obsessed with the [panalack?]. I really like aesthetics dictatorship regimes, like the Soviet Union and communist dictatorships, where the buildings are all looking the same. I think in the countries that have totalitarian regimes, everything around you is really big and makes you feel that you are small, and… part of something. I remember when walking through Berlin through Karl-Max Avenue, how small I felt walking amongst those buildings.
I try to recreate this with one of the most important aspects of the Continue reading THE MAESTRO FROM MADRID: AN INTERVIEW WITH EDUARDO CASANOVA
“I do not attribute to nature either beauty or deformity, order or confusion. Only in relation to our imagination can things be called beautiful or ugly, well-ordered or confused.”–Baruch Spinoza
DIRECTED BY: Eduardo Casanova
FEATURING: Ana Polvorosa, Candela Peña, Macarena Gómez, Carmen Machi, Jon Kortajarena, Secun de la Rosa, Itziar Castro, Antonio Durán ‘Morris’, Ana María Ayala,
PLOT: Unable to control his impulses, a tormented pedophile visits a madam who specializes in “unusual” tastes. From the catalog she offers, he selects a girl born with no eyes, and brings her a gift of two jewels. The lives of these two, along with other internally and externally deformed people including a woman with an anus for a mouth and a boy who wishes he was a mermaid, intersect in surprising ways seventeen years later.
- Eduardo Casanova was a child star on Spanish television. Starting in 2009, he used the money and connections he made acting to make a series of short films. Many of the eventual cast members of Skins appear in these shorts. One, 2015’s “Eat My Shit,” features Ana Polvorosa in an incident that later made it into Skins (although the tone of the short is more juvenile and jokey than the feature film).
- and actress (who starred in one of Casanova’s earlier shorts and appears in a small role as a psychiatrist here) served as producers.
INDELIBLE IMAGE: This pink and purple freak fantasia provides many possibilities, both disturbing and beautiful. The obvious choice would be Samantha, the girl with the inverted digestive system. If at all possible, it’s best that her appearance be left as a surprise, although that may be hard to do given her prominence in the trailer and the fact that she’s the character everyone describes when describing the movie to their friends. We’ll go in a different, but equally memorable, direction by selecting Cristian’s mermaid-boy fantasy, which features the lavender-headed outcast seated on a rock crusted by pink seashells in a purple-walled heaven while fish rain around him.
THREE WEIRD THINGS: Pink merkin; the prettiest eyes in the world; freak fetish
WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: From the opening scene of a reluctant pedophile crying as he makes his selection in a highly specialized brothel, decorated all in pink and run by an elderly madame who works in the nude, Skins‘s crazy credentials are never in doubt. Perhaps the most shocking things aren’t the deformities and perversions but the compassion and intricate plotting, which suggest depths beyond Skins‘ freak show surface.
Promotional video for Skins (Imagine Film Festival Screening)
COMMENTS: A weird, glittering pink gem lies hidden deep in the Continue reading 290. SKINS (2017)