World Melodrama Film Series Presents: What Have I Done to Deserve This? (1984)

[last one of the year, and a very fitting end, starting with one of the more apt melodrama titles out there.  A bisected we continues the series next fall - I will be in Napoli for a year and hence can only join in spirit/digital presence, but Erik will be taking things in a more interplanetary direction...  We're not done with melodrama, by a long-shot, as it is never done with us: that's the point.  It keeps coming back for more.]

Okay.  Tell me which authors are romantic and which realistic.  Ibsen?
Lord Byron?
He’s a realist.
A realist as well.
Romantic.  See how easy it is?

A grotesquely parodic amalgamation of melodrama and Spanish black comedies of the 1950s and ‘60s (which, as it happens, derived from Italian neo-realism), What Have I Done to Deserve This? was Pedro Almodóvar’s fifth feature-length film and the first to make a big splash on the international film festival and art house circuit.  Nothing seems to be going right in the life of the harassed working mother, Gloria (Carmen Maura): her taxi-driver husband is obsessed with Hitler and doesn’t mind sharing his admiration for the dead German dictator with his unfazed customers; one of her sons is a drug-dealer, while the other (younger) sibling seems to like older men . . . a lot; a prostitute neighbor (and friend) convinces Gloria that she should be a paid observer when one of her more exhibitionistic clients comes calling (see above); a little girl upstairs seems to have Carrie-like telekinetic powers; and Gloria herself can’t stop popping No-Doze pills.  Set in and around an immense housing project in Madrid, What Have I Done to Deserve This? memorably synthesizes many of the melodramatic tropes, plots, and characters we’ve been exploring this quarter into one giant mess.  As ever, not to be missed.

Tuesday, May 31st
Stevenson 150, 8 PM


Anonymous said...

napoli for a year? that's're not teaching 50s sci-fi with Marsh next winter quarter?

socialism and/or barbarism said...

exactly. Fortunately I'm living in Napoli, unfortunately I can't teach sci-fi as the three of us were envisioning. Maybe I'll Skype a lecture...