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Dark Habits

Movie Information

In Brief: Pedro Almodóvar's first professional film, Dark Habits is pretty thoroughly what you expect from the filmmaker. It's an outrageous soap opera-esque story full of dysfunctional characters — in this case, mostly nuns, many addicted to drugs — presented with humor and nonjudgmental humanity. It's not as slick as his later works, but there's much to be said for it.
Score:

Genre: Black Comedy Drama
Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Starring: Cristina Sánchez Pascual, Julieta Serrano, Carmen Maura, Chus Lampreave
Rated: R

It’s always nice to see Almodóvar on local screenings — and maybe even nicer to see one of his less frequently shown titles. The last time this was screened, I wrote: “Dark Habits (1983) marks Pedro Almodóvar’s first fully professionally made (read: studio-backed) film. While the filmmaker himself has somewhat distanced himself from it on that basis—feeling that there were too many concessions to the corporate powers—it’s hard to imagine how it could be any more Almodóvar-esque than it is. It certainly doesn’t want for the casual outrageousness of Almodóvar’s films. Let’s face it, it’s a movie about a junkie pop singer, Yolanda (Cristina Sanchez Pascual, Labyrinth of Passion), whose boyfriend (Will More) dies from a dose of strychnine-laced heroin, prompting her to seek sanctuary with an order of extremely strange nuns, ‘The Humiliated Redeemers.’ The Mother Superior (Julieta Serrano) is a not very repressed lesbian and a fan of Yolanda—and herself a junkie. The rest of the convent isn’t exactly a hotbed of nun-like decorum either. Sister Damned (Carmen Maura) is a bongo-playing animal lover with a pet tiger. Sister Sewer Rat (Chus Lampreave) is in reality the author of a popular series of trashy novels with titles like Get Out of Here, You Swine, Lost in the Big City, Call of the Flesh and Secretaries Cry, Too. There’s also a chain-smoking, movie-fanatic priest (Manuel Zarzo), who waxes rhapsodic about Cecil Beaton’s costumes for My Fair Lady and harbors a secret. And there’s a mystery surrounding the fate of a previous obsession of the Mother Superior—not to mention a fleeting appearance by Almodóvar himself as a bus passenger. In other words, it sounds like vintage Almodóvar—and it pretty much is.”

Full review here: http://avl.mx/mk

Classic World Cinema by Courtyard Gallery will present Dark Habits Friday, Nov. 2 at 8 p.m. at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District, upstairs in the Railroad Library).  Info: 273-3332, www.ashevillecourtyard.com

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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