Monday, August 27, 2007

I, The Worst of All ('90)

[costume stills coming]

Director & country: Bemberg, Maria Luisa: Spain

Genre: Drama

Produced/distributed by: First Run Films

Recommended: Maybe

Rate as history: ?

Rate as cimena: 4

Time: 17th century

Location: Mexico

Ethnicity: Spanish

Religion: Catholic

Class: Aristocracy and middle

Occupation: Nuns, Archbishop, Viceroy

Best actors: Many

Writing: Very good

Costume: By Graciela Galan

Music: By Luis Maria Serra

Strenths: Cinematography, like a stageplay

Favorite lines:

50:45 Juana: “Tell the Archbishop I will study in the stars, in the grass, in the kitchen.”

_____: “I do no penance to reach heaven, I am not very pious either. But I am here, doing the only work I can offer to God, without shame: my poetry.”

1:02:20 Juana to girl novices on their last day of elementary school in the convent: “I would like you always to rememebr, that God did not give you perception and curiosity in vain.”

1:23 Archbishop to Juana: ‘Will you never stop scribbling?’

Favorite shots:

4:25 – Convent library, the books are covered with black gauze, suggesting dead knowledge

Favorite scene:

12:50 – after nuns leave the bishop’s entrance, his secretary fumigates with frankincense, where the entered!

Other comments: I almost didn’t review this film: ‘Oh, it’s about nuns, there will be too few men. Oh, it’s a feminist film. Since it’s advertised as erotic too, it’ll be lesbian.’ So, I dismissed it. Glad I didn’t. Based on a book by Octavio Paz

Story: Mexico’s archbishop and viceroy meet. Nuns told recent economic hard times must be overcome for the sake of the convent’s survival. Accountant nun produces play for assembled dignitaries. Ab is not pleased and considers the convent a ‘bordello’ [for allowing erudition and culture?] / AB meets two conservative nuns, and expressing his disatisfaction with the Abbess, gets their co-operation should the bishoriphic help the convent financially. / Nuns meet with Abbess to discuss situation. They are aware of the intrigues of the nun, and the Abbess asks Juana to run in the election to become the next Abbess. They know that since the viceroy likes their ways, they have to carefully resist the alliance of a few nuns with the ab. Juana replies that she cannot give up her writing. / Juana meets with the Viceroy’s wife and the VW explains that she too lives a very restricted wife in her position. / Entertainment: VC and VW plus a bishop discuss AB hatred of women. / Confession: Juana and her confessor discuss how she entered the convent in order to read. VW points out convent’s library, while the largest in America, has banned books. VW warns her of Inquisition. J shows her her scientific, intellectual, and musical treasures. / VW reads J’s poems while being painted / Five intellectual men and Juanes, separated by bars, together drink coffee and discuss classic literature. VW visits and prsents bird feather tiara to J / Abbess position vote. Conservative nun ‘wins’. Toys, pets and luxuries taken away. / VW visits J in her library. Nun suggests J give up a treasure. VW tells her to leave / Boy born to VW. / J tells WV about her testing in order to be admitted to university, when a 17 year-old lady-in-waiting. Then her kissing by a courtier. / V reads J’s erotic poetry prsented by VW / Nuns secretly doctor J’s poems / Bishops meet to discuss J’s poetry that might be lesbian – is it obscene? She has only one defender. / Clergy seal the library. Her confessor advises her to be less amorous. / V and ArchB have it out. V tells archb to let her back in library immediately. / VW kisses J erotically. J goes to hidden watch memento. / J’s confessor censors books of printer. Printer annoyed that ArchB sent him more Portuguese theological books that won’t sell. Intellectual Siquenza slips in a with his purchase the banned religious book, of chapter of which, explains Protestantism. The confessor catches him and discards it. / VW and her bot play ball. V arrives and explains he has been replaced. / J gives her last class to the child-novices. She is told by another nun, that on orders from the abbess she should continue her music lesson. / V comes and asks j if VW can publish her poems in Spain. They are picked up. / [I stopped writing down every scene – what’s the point?] The gist of the rest of the film is this… Her work is published. Natural and political calamaties ruin the convent. The wrath of God is blamed. She confesses her sins of pride and dies of the plague.

Comments, more: That the convent had preteen novices. What the hell? Hector Alterio, who plays the viceroy plays the adult male in the excellent drama about winter-spring romantic relationships, titled ‘The Nest' ('80).

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