I’ve relished reading Miguel Bosé’s El hijo del Capitán Trueno. Bosé has been a music superstar in the Spanish-speaking world for over four decades. Elsewhere, he’s probably best known for starring in Almodóvar’s High Heels. But he’s worth getting to know better. His father, the most famous and glamorous bullfighter of his day, left Ava Gardner to chase his mother, Lucia Bosé, whose extraordinary beauty brought luminosity to the cinema of Antonioni, Bardem, Fellini, and so many other greats. Picasso and Visconti were his godparents. His first sexual experience with a man was Helmut Berger. Dalí was handmaiden to his teenage affair with Amanda Lear. He has anecdotes about all the greats from all over Europe and elsewhere. He’s worth reading too. It’s perceptive book, well-evoking the smells, textures, structures and feels of different ways of life; rural Spain, a Madrid awakening from its 50s provincialism but still in the yoke of Fascism; the social-cultural see-saws of the Transition to Democracy; even early 70s London. It’s a well-written book, precise and poetic. He devotes four pages of description to the ‘matanza,’ that time of year – and accompanying processes – when the pig is slaughtered, chorizos are made, other parts of the pig are preserved etc; and his memories evoked and jived with mine, probably the only thing that jet-setting son of international stars and I have in common. I hope the book gets an English translation.
We explore Dario Argento’s Suspiria, his 1977 horror classic, and its loose remake by Luca Guadagnino, from 2018. We’ve never seen either, although Argento’s film casts a long shadow – those who’ve seen it never forget it, and it’s easy to see why. Its visual design is bold, imaginative and beautiful, the images it creates extraordinary, its violence heightened and wild. José loves it, literally wowed by it, captivated by its cinematic flair and interesting casting. But, Mike argues, it’s a film that offers nothing beyond the aesthetic, uninterested in its own characters or story, which leaves him cold.
Our responses to Guadagnino’s remake are reversed entirely. For Mike, it’s superior: ambitious, keen to mine the threadbare original for thematic depth, and laudably attempting to weave together generational guilt, dance, institutional corruption and women’s bodies into a complex tapestry, although one which requires too much audience participation to complete. José thinks he’s giving a pretentious work of ego far too much credit, is turned off by the dance scenes, annoyed at the lack of connection he finds between its wider themes and central coven, angered by its grey, wintry colour palette and dry cinematography… in fact, he’s angered by all of it! Now he knows how his friends felt as he valiantly tried to argue them into appreciating Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name, which he loved, but which many of them greeted with similar hostility.
The original a cult classic, its remake a very different take on the core premise – both are worth watching. But if our responses are anything to go by, your mileage may vary considerably.
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