Monday, February 13, 2017

FRANCO FEBRUARY! PAULA-PAULA (2010) (DVD Review)

PAULA-PAULA (2010)

Label: Intervision Picture Corp

Region Code: Region Free
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 76 Minutes 
Audio: Spanish Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Director: Jess Franco
Cast: Paula Davis, Carmen Montes, Lina Romay


Synopsis: Alma Pereira is a female police officer investigating the murder of an exotic dancer at a sleazy club in Malaga, Spain. Called to the Flamingo Club in a back alley of Antofagasta she confronts the prime suspect, Paula, a friend of the victim. After a brief Q+A the balance of the film shows what happened in the interval leading up to the killing, which turns out to be a crime of passion. Or is it all in the mind of Paula?

So what's Franco got for us this time? Well, first off you should realize this is not a usual narrative film with a linear narrative. It's being touted as an "An AudioVisual Experience" which it is - then again, isn't every film since the first talkie an audio-visual experience? I found the story hard to follow, but from what I've been able to glean from some close scrutiny and internet scouring we have Paula (Carmen Montes, Snakewoman) in the main role, Paula. She  is an erotic dancer who has been arrested for the murder of another dancer, also named Paula (Paula Davis). Paula only shares the same name but is not an visual twin/doppelganger ala The Double Life of Veronique (1991). Once taken-in for questioning she in interviewed by Alma Pereira (Lina Romay, Female Vampire). However, she's not forthcoming with the answers during the interview, she seems a few tacos short of a combination plate, you know? From there we see fragments of what may have transpired leading up to the point of the murder as seen through Paula's mind's eye. Maybe. This shit was confusing. What it basically boils down to is a fairly trippy and artsy striptease followed by  20 minute lesbian sex scene culminating in a baffling and anti-climactic murder with a loose-narrative prologue. Aside from the lurid appeal of a tasty striptease and some girl-on-girl action this was a bit of a slog for me, to be honest. 


Franco makes the assertion that the inspiration for Paula-Paula came from Robert Louis Stevenson's story Jekyll/Hyde. There's some tiny hint of such a things with some odd mirror and digital effects works but that's really stretching it. If I hadn't of read it in the press kit I don't think I would have made this connection. One thing I can say about this film is that the jazz score provided by the late Austrian composer Friedrich Gulda (who scored Franco's Succubus/Necronomicon) is fantastic. The films serves as merely an erotic visual backdrop to the very cool score. It should be noted that the music was not scored specifically for the film and was gifted to Franco by the children of Gulda after the composer's death - perhaps the films is a tribute to the composer's score. Now that's interesting. 

Audio/Video: Paula-Paula (2010) arrives on DVD from Intervision Picture Corp framed in anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) with a Spanish Dolby Digital stereo soundtrack with optional English subtitles. The transfer seems to accurately represent the digital video cinematography and is augmented by some artsy digital effects wizardry. The Spanish dialogue seems a bit buried in the mix throughout but the amazing jazz score from Friedrich Gulda (Succubus/Necronomicon)sounds mighty fine indeed. 


Special features on the disc include an introduction and two interviews with Franco. The introduction to the film was recorded mere moments after the initial filming of Paula-Paula and Franco seems quite excited about the project. The other interviews have Franco discussing the state of filmmaking, the music and cast of Paula-Paula all of which I found more intriguing than the film. 

Special Features: 

- Introduction by Jess Franco (1 min)
- Jess Franco on Contemporary Filmmaking (18 min)
- Jess Franco on Paula-Paula (9 min)

Paula-Paula (2010) works better as an odd extended music video or video art piece than an narrative film in my opinion, not a recommend unless you're a true Jess Franco completest. During the interviews Franco suggests this may be one of 2 or 3 of his weirdest films. Agreed, but sadly not in a good way, if this happens to be your first Franco watch it would probably leave you cold, but trust me, dive deeper, there's some true Eurocult gems from Franco waiting for you to discover them. 1.5/5


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