Bigas Luna (born March 1946) is a well respected, multitalented,
Spanish writer, actor, painter and director. This remastered
box set contains the first four of his major movie releases...
well respected, a lot of Bigas Luna's films did not travel
well. Partly, this was due to the sexual imagery in his films,
some of which boarders on the hardcore, but mostly I believe
it was because of his fascination with Spanish male machismo
- which tends to depict the majority of his male characters
as self obsessed and emotionally stunted. It's up to the audience
to decide whether their own sensibilities view the films as
bordering on exploitation or an honest attempt to depict a
particular form of sexuality.
first film, The Ages of Lulu (Las Edades de Lulu
1990), most probably ranks as one of the most sexually explicit
film on general release and certainly one of Luna's most explicit
to date. As an exploration of the darker side of female sexuality
it has much in common with Luis Bunuel's Belle de Jour
(1967) or Just Jaeckin's Histoire d'O (1975), though
in the case of Lulu, far from becoming sexually submissive,
she quickly transforms from enthusiastic amateur to a sexual
predator, trawling the late night bars looking for men to
have a threesome with. The film was based on an erotic novel
by Almudena Grandes.
film won a Goya award for best supporting actress and was
nominated for a further two. The film is presented in what
appears to be, for the first time, an uncut version. Previous
versions had a lot of the more extreme sexual images excised
prior to release. The film is an uncompromising look at the
evolution of one woman's sexuality.
When we first meet Lulu (Francesca Neri) she is an innocent
who looses her virginity to her brother's best friend. Following
her first sexual encounter Lulu completely transforms, and
after her and Pablo (Oscar Ladoire) are married, they whip
out an A to Z of sexual experiences and work their way through.
Along the way Lulu and Pablo make friends with Ely (Maria
Barranco) a transvestite prostitute, who quickly becomes a
close friend and sexual partner.
Unfortunately, for Lulu, she discovers that her husband has
absolutely no boundaries when, following a party, he arranges
for her to be blindfolded and have sex with her own brother.
Appalled, Lulu leaves him, determining never to be a sexual
object ever again - and so begins her journey to a much darker
such as this, tend to polarise audiences. Some will view the
movie as an honest work charting Lulu's fall from grace, where
as others will see it as an arty porn flick. The film was
well received in his native Spain, where there may have been
a greater understanding of what Luna was trying to do.
The print on the DVD is excellent, with a rich colour pallet
and nice skin tones. Sound is stereo, but that works well
for this dialogue heavy film, which is in Spanish with optional
English subtitles. The DVD has the original Theatrical
Trailer as an extra, which is set to Lou Reed's Walk on
the Wild Side, a track which also appears in the film.
The second film in the collection is Jamon Jamon (1992),
now famous for featuring Penelope Cruz's breasts, one of which
apparently tastes like eggs, whereas the other tastes like
ham - now there's a trick you don't see everyday. The film
won four awards, mostly for Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz,
and was nominated for a further nine.
This is an altogether darker game of sexual consequences,
if that was possible. Penelope Cruz plays Silvi, the daughter
of the local brothel owner, Carmen (Anna Galiena). When the
wealthy Jose (Jordi Molla) falls for Silvi's obvious charms
his mother, Conchita (Stefania Sandrelli), is appalled. In
an effort to break the couple up Jose's mother hires a local
hunk, Raul (Javier Bardem) to seduce and sleep with Silvi.
However, not only does Raul start a sexual affair with Conchita,
but also falls in love with Silvi. You can already tell that
this isn't going to end well.
If nothing else you've got to love a film with the surreal
sight of two men trying to brain each other with legs of ham.
In fact this film has pig references all the way through,
and honest to god I have no idea why. There is always the
idea of food and sex both being sensual pleasures which has
been used before, though Jamon Jamon lends itself much
more to the absurdist humour of Monty Python. The factory
which Conchita owns makes underpants and has the proud quote
"Inside every mans pants is a salmon". It's the sort of thing
that you feel must be deep and meaningful but for the most
part just comes over as funny.
As a film, this little domestic tragedy has a better constructive
narrative to Lulu, though the cast play their parts
The DVD has a good print, although there is some noticeable
damage towards the end. Audio is Spanish stereo with optional
subtitles. Extras are once again the original Theatrical
Golden Balls (Huevos de oro 1993) won four awards
and was nominated for a further three. The film is an exploration
of machismo which is enshrined in the famous quote "I have
two balls, two Rolex's, why can't I have two women?" What
Gordon Geko was to Wall Street, Javier Bardem's character
Benito Gonzalez is to architecture, his desire to have a skyscraper
erected in his honour is the most blatant and ridiculous use
of a phallic symbol.
But then that's the point. The story of a man who is so wrapped
up in himself that he would marry a woman he does not love,
whilst trying to hold on to his true love, just to get a monument
to his manhood erected, surely shows just how much Luna obviously
despises this part of male sexuality. Thematically, it also
explains the extremes of The Ages of Lulu, though Luna
continues to move away from the grittiness of Lulu
to more overt comedies as Benito's quest for the ultimate
male monument comes to nothing, as he gradually loses everything.
This being a Luna film there is the odd smattering of sex,
well a lot of it really intermixed with some bafflingly funny
Like the other films the DVD comes with a nice stereo soundtrack,
though this time there is a piece by Luna himself as an extra,
which discusses the film.
For the film buffs amongst you look out for an early role
by Benicio Del Toro as Bob.
Tit and the Moon
(Teta I la Lluna, La 1994) finished off Luna's trilogy of
comedies, which included Golden Balls and Jamon
Jamon and without a doubt is the most surreal of the three
films. The film won a Golden Osella at the Venice film Festival.
Tete (Bien Duran) is the apple of his parents' eye, unfortunately
Tete has some confidence issues, and these finally come to
a head when the family has a new baby. Convinced, by his mother's
constant breast feeding, that there is not enough love to
go round, he journeys off to find a breast of his own. Finds
one too, clever little chap. An absurd premise gives birth
to an absurdly funny film.
Although this could be viewed as another sex comedy, there
is something innocently endearing about Tete's quest for a
breast of his own. At nine years of age Tete still equates
breasts with comfort and love, rather than an odd way of tuning
The film apparently will be released with a 5.1, stereo and
DTS track, though the review disc only came as a fine and
clear stereo track. Extras continue to be better than expected
with another piece by Luna about the film. For good measure,
Tartan has thrown in the original Theatrical Trailer
and a Trailer Reel.
If you're a fan of Luna's work, then this box set is a must.
The prints are better than any previous release and a lot
of the cuts have been returned to the films. As a casual viewer,
you may find Lulu shocking, but placed in the context of Luna's
dislike for machismo it makes a little more sense.