Saturday, October 8, 2011

Movies We Saw in Spain

We recently discovered that not all of Spain actually stays out late every night. In San Sebastian, the party continues after 2 am on a Saturday, but the rest of the week it's just not that jumping of a place (not for Spain, anyway).

It was one of our nights of cruising the old town for 3 euro foie gras and chocolate ganache. Once we left the clatter and shouting of the pintxo bars behind us, there wasn't much of a scene happening in the streets, not like the throngs we'd rolled our baggage through on the night of our arrival. Plus, Jamie had presented her research earlier that day at the International Conference on the Image and was a little tired. So, we wound up back in the hotel room at a reasonable hour and flipped on the tube.

The "la Sexta" network affiliate was showing a double feature: Game of Death and Dragons Forever (both dubbed in Spanish, of course).

I hadn't seen a Bruce Lee movie since I was a kid. Enter the Dragon was a big deal for me because it was the first movie my parents let me watch that was rated R. I still remember how excited I was- and how disappointed I was that I wasn't shocked by it, that nothing much in it seemed to be out of the bounds of movies I had already seen. I had considered the R rating a pretty clear advertisement that something in the film was going to be too advanced for my tender psyche, but no.

I had no memory to prepare me for how ridiculous Game of Death was. The fight with Kareem Abdul-Jabaar could have been in an episode of Batman. Once again I feel hoodwinked. All this time I'd assumed that something with a title like Game of Death was going to be frightening or intense somehow. Yet it's silly, and in a way that could only have been intentional. It was nice, though, to finally see the yellow track suit that has such a legacy.

Then it was time for Jackie Chan.

When it comes to Jackie Chan, you know what you're going to get, but some of his films are better than others. Dragons Forever seems like it was one of his best. The acting is so broad that we were able to follow the story despite the Spanish dubbing. The situations are hilarious, and the action is thrilling; this clip only gives you a taste of what comes later, when the stunt work looks so dangerous I'd be surprised if nobody broke any bones. Maybe I just need to watch more Bruce Lee, but it seems like Jackie Chan's best material has Bruce Lee beat.

Later, in Barcelona, we saw a very late showing of Pina, and I'm afraid my eyes were drooping behind my 3D glasses. But it was a wonderful reminder of the time Jamie and I saw Full Moon at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Many of the dancers in that performance also appeared in the film, and after spending so much time watching them in that show and memorizing their faces, it was nice to see their 3D selves hovering in front of us. I value the memory of that show at BAM because it was a truly affecting performance. On at least one occasion I was surprised to be overwhelmed with understanding and emotion; a line that a dancer yelled out at the audience several times, while he performed a sweeping, spinning gesture, shook me to the bone. And I remember how tired the company was at the end of the performance. They were drenched with the cold water that had been raining down on the set, and they had leapt, kicked and writhed, sometimes with incredible athleticism, for two hours. They faced the audience for their bow and they looked simply brutalized. That might have been the most powerful moment of the show, because you could see so clearly what the art meant to them.