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Saturday, January 29, 2011

PAULA-PAULA -- DVD review by porfle

For his 209th movie, prolific Spanish director Jesús "Jess" Franco has made what he calls "an audio-visual experience" entitled PAULA-PAULA (2010).  In literal terms I suppose that's an accurate way to describe it, but holy cats, is this thing boring.  You could probably have an equally rewarding audio-visual experience by putting an album on and watching a lava lamp for an hour.

The story begins with a distraught, disoriented Paula (Carmen Montes) being taken into custody, apparently for having killed her friend who was also named Paula (Paula Davis).  Under questioning by a female officer (a briefly-seen Lina Romay), Paula-1 claims not to have done it although she hated her.  Then she lets slip that she has tried to kill her numerous times without success.

Later, we see Paula-1 dancing naked in a room, aware that a young police sergeant is peeking through the door.  If I had to choose a favorite part of the movie it would be this scene, since Carmen Montes is beautiful, has a great body, and isn't moving in super slow-motion.

Intercut with this are flashbacks of Paula-2 dancing in an apartment.  She wears a belly-dancer's outfit and undulates in front of a silver mylar backdrop, moving ever-so-slowly as a mirrored split-screen effect turns her body into abstract shapes.  Sitting in a chair in a revealing dress, Paula-1 watches her with fascination.  From this point on, the pace becomes practically glacial.

About halfway through, Paula-1 relates a brief story which will come into play at the end.  Then the two Paulas finally get together for about twenty minutes of mild softcore sex, all in maddening slow-motion that had me struggling to stay awake.  (This is the first film I've seen in ages that literally put me to sleep.)  After some more split-screen effects, PAULA-PAULA mercifully ends pretty much the way we expect it to.

This is the sort of thing you might've stumbled onto a roomful of stoned hippies watching back in the 60s while muttering "wow, man..."  With much of the film's running time consisting of plotless, enervating visuals, I began to appreciate the hot freeform jazz score by Friederich Gulda which plays continuously with no direct connection with the actions onscreen.

The DVD from Intervision is in widescreen with Dolby 2.0 sound.  Language is Spanish with English subtitles.  Extras consist of three Franco featurettes--an introduction to the film, a more detailed discussion of it, and, most interesting, the venerable director's thoughts on the state of contemporary filmmaking.

According to the titles, this is based on Stevenson's Jekyll and Hyde story, but it might as well have been based on "Green Eggs and Ham" for all the relevance this has to the film.  Although PAULA-PAULA seemingly aspires to be a cinematic equivalent to its frenetic jazz score, what it basically amounts to is Jess Franco dicking around for 67 minutes.

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