Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Cinema's Most Dubious Award Winner

Via GreenCine...apparently, Spain's Goya Awards committee has to scrape some pretty deep barrels to find Lifetime Achievement Award winners....

Picture, if you will, a lush and misty meadow; a grove of bare trees stand in the back blocking a hill. Chamber music softly swells through the air and, after a long look at this landscape, from the left comes a woman walking slowly among the trees, their shadows casting down on what appear to be flowing robes. She's far off, but turns to face the camera and, from that distance, her beauty is clear. Not speeding her pace, she glides toward the meadow. We see that the robes were not robes at all, but a sheer scarf that does little to cover her. She walks closer and closer, then still closer. So close that it seems unnatural, yet she's still coming. Now we can see her pores, and it's starting to ruin the fantasy. Then, she hits the fucking camera.

Such is the two minute opening sequence of Jess Franco's 1973 film Female Vampire or, if you please, Les Avaleuses, The Bare-Breasted Contessa, Erotic Kill, Insatiable Lust, Jacula, Sicarus: the Midnight Party, The Black Countess, The Last Thrill, The Loves of Irina, or Yacula, take your pick, starring Lena Romay. They have been married for many years and, as recently as 1998's Tender Flesh, casts her in films doing things like peeing into a bowl for use as a roast marinade.

There are things to say about Jesus Franco, though, that I suppose are positive. He was the man entrusted by the Orson Welles estate to finish the director's quixotically troubled version of Don Quixote; we know everybody's clamoring to see this. He's exceptionally prolific with 189 credits according to his always reliable IMDB page. He was tireless in his pursuit to make erotic films banned under General Franco's regime, though mostly right on the French or Portugeuse borders. I have been fooled countless times by his promises of the shocking and lurid, only to be bored beyond belief, and I think it says something that I continue to be fooled. Whether that actually says something about Franco or myself is a topic for another post.

Seriously, though, this is the 23rd Goya Awards. Are there really only 22 decent Spanish directors before having to settle for Franco? This must be a joke.