Saturday, August 17, 2013

I'm So Excited (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

I'm So Excited

With a puff of brilliant color here is "I'm So Excited" the latest picaresque episode by the surreal Spanish master Pedro Almodovar. Forget that the plot has no logical content whatsoever. The director, as steady and unabashed as he is, almost turns fluff into flair.

Here we have an airplane that is without landing gear because the passengers or crew  unwittingly ingested (or misplaced) some minute components. How this came to pass is beyond comprehension. At any rate, the plane bound for Mexico, is reduced to existentially turning in circles while the enclosed passengers gossip about sexual peccadilloes.

Ulloa (Raúl Arévalo) Joserra (Javier Cámara) and Fajas (Carlos Areces) are gay male flight attendants who try to liven up the group preoccupied with their precarious lives, especially since they are about to plunge downward in a few hours time.

There is a mature  model and dominatrix Norma (Cecelia Roth ) who has many political ties. There is a crooked investor, Sr. Mas (Jose Luis Torrijo), the actor Ricardo Galan (Guillermo Toledo) and a psychic Portera (Carmen Machi). Throw in Antonio Banderas as a vexed operator and Penelope Cruz as his partner and the gang's all here.

The passengers get increasingly agitated  and worked up as they constantly barge into the cockpit.

Ulloa, Joserra and Fajas take a Three Stooges kind of persona as they talk and wave about frantically and perpetually pour drinks. The best way to stop all anxiety, they reason, is to keep the passengers asleep. Carlos Areces is entertaining as the bumbling and baby-faced Fajas, but there just isn't much for the flight crew to do. There is much chatter and histrionics and a few non sequiturs. Suffice to say most of the action is polka dotted with a light carbonation.

More interesting are the sex scenes under the sterile fog of a slumbering plane cabin which recall some of the dreamlike passages of the sci-fi writer J.G. Ballard in which a closeup of a plasticine vent may lead into a carnal episode or the way in which a first class cloth partition brushes up against some bright skin as polished as the plane's interior. The very concept of the passengers being permanently  asleep, only half rousing themselves for a bit of soporific sex, echo the cinematic situations of Luis Bunuel, albeit thin.

Narrative vacancy aside, there is a strange glee infused throughout. The airplane's jet engines are shown in closeup to look like spirals while the wheel armatures hint at the thrust of male power. This is a plane made for a carnival of sex, at home within the 70s party films of  "Shampoo" and "Barbarella."

Lastly, there is also a pop of menace. Near the end of the film as we hear many shrieks and screams, there is a lonely montage of an empty airport.

But with such masterful and thoughtful touches, "I'm So Excited" is decidedly mild. The best sleight of all, though, might be that Almodovar keeps us watching even through all the airy angst.

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