The Spanish translation of "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" is organically different from the English, explained local comedienne wonder of the world Marga Gomezto spectators at the Vogue Theatre in San Francisco. As part of a week long program of local standup comics introducing films at this vintage cinema house, LOL SF , (July 8-15) Gomez said that "Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios" is something quite different from the stereotype of women just losing it. She emphasizes that nervous breakdowns in Spanish are called "nervous attacks". She reported that these attacks involve a loss of emotional control that is often religious where women rip off their clothes and go into esoteric frenzy. The attacks can also be observed in Hispanic enthusiasm for the Spanish squad in the World Cup, and such frenzy is "not unlike life on the MUNI", quipped Gomez.
Gomez of Cuban-Puerto Rican descent admitted she has a bone or two to pick with the Spanish colonizers of the country where this film originates. But she does not take it out on Pedro Almodóvar'sWomen on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdownfrom 1988 ("remember the 80's?", asks Gomez), a superbly fascinating study of women in love with a womanizer who has something positive to say about every woman and any woman.Carmen Maura plays Pepa, a TV actress who plays the role of a mother whose son is a homicidal maniac. Though she is able to clean all the blood stains from his clothes with a miracle laundry detergent she cheerfully promotes when the cops knock at the door. She is hopelessly in love with Ivan but teetering on the verge of collapse. So she sets fire to her bed and packs his suitcase.
Carmen Maura worked together with Almodóvar in seven of his films and certainly was one of his more sophisticated and commanding leading ladies, followed by Victoria Abril and later Penélope Cruz, all equally captivating.
In this colorful farce, an entourage of characters descend on Pepa's apartment, which she once shared with Ivan (Fernando Guillén) until he decides to take up with feminist lawyer, Paulina Morales (Kiti Manverx). Wife numero una, Lucia, (Julieta Serrano) is out to get him, having recently been released from the mental asylum, which she longs to return to. Son Carlos, a young Antonio Banderas and virgin girlfriend Marisa (Rossy de Palma) show up, and later two cops and a telephone repairman to fix the red phone Pepa constantly throws out the window. Meanwhile Candela (María Barranco) is hiding from the police so that she is not implicated with Shiite terrorists for hijacking a plane to Stockholm. And Billy Idol drives Pepa around town pursuing Ivan. All this is washed down with some serious spiked Gazpacho.
The ingenious idea of having comics introduce films is clearly in step with how San Francisco keeps its historic movie houses flourishing. Marga Gomez helped to embellish this comic masterpiece with a dimension that increased its viewing pleasure "exponencialmente". An added bonus was the appearance of ¡GARZA, delivering a melodramatic weepy from the film.
Noomi Rapace as ace hacker Lisbeth Salander and Michael Nyqvist as investigative journalist Mikael Blomqvist are back in the second part of the Millennium series written by the late Stieg Larsson: The Girl Who Played with Fire. Published last July, this trilogy is the first translated novel(s) to be on the New York Times Bestseller list in a quarter of a century. This time the translation of the title of this new film and novel is true to the original Swedish. ("The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" the first part of the trilogy in Swedish is Män som Hatar Kvinnor- Men Who Hate Women).
We last left Lisbeth somewhere in southern Europe where she had made a fortune through hacking. Now back in Sweden she has bought an expensive apartment overlooking the Stockholm Harbor. On the mail slot is the name "V. Kulla" that stands for Villekulla, none other than the home of Pippi Longstockings. The book by Astrid Lindgren about a young girl who lived on her own and could lift a horse was inspirational to Stieg Larsson.
The "Millennium" journal that Mikael works for has taken on an assignment to investigate trafficking among teenage girls between Sweden and Eastern Europe. Two young journalists are murdered and then another murder takes place and Lisbeth is falsely accused of doing them, forcing her to go underground. But she is hard on the trail again as is Mikael to find out who is behind the murders. The trail leads to men in high places.
Noomi Rapace steals every scene she is in. Realize that she is NOT a girl, but a young woman. For her role, she studied martial arts and learned to ride a motorcycle. Her timing and physical presence is powerful and she amazingly bites back so Zen like that it is hard to realize how a young hacker can bring so many men in high positions to their downfall.
Lisbeth set her abusive stepfather on fire as a child and was institutionalized as a 12-year-old girl. Her past bears on her current predicament and she is forced to confront it. Everyone is out to shut her down, and yet she quietly and effectively works to solve the murders she is falsely accused of, and Mikael works alongside her, unbeknownst to her, to get the bad guys.
There has to be a lull in the middle part of a trilogy, and there is in this one, adequately directed by Daniel Alfredson, but watch for the finale in The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (In Swedish "The Air Castle That Was Blown Up" - Luftslottet som Sprängdes).
All three films have been out in Sweden for a year and were originally made for Swedish TV. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was 180 minutes compared to the theatrical version of 152 minutes (US) and The Girl Who Played with Fire is 129 minutes (US) and 180 minutes for the TV production.