Movie poster of the week: The Headless WomanSeptember 20, 2008
The New York Film Festival starts next Friday, opening with Laurent Cantet’s Cannes winner The Class and closing with Darren Aronofsky’s Venice winner (and Mickey Rourke resurrection) The Wrestler. On the auteur front there are new films by Mike Leigh, Arnaud Desplechin, Olivier Assayas, Agnes Jaoui, Jerzy Skolimowski, Joao Botelho, Jia Zhangke, Hong Sang-soo, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Steven Soderbergh, Clint Eastwood and Kelly Reichardt, as well as a near-complete restrospective of Nagisa Oshima, and restorations, playing on the same day no less, of two of the most rhapsodic films ever made: Max Ophuls’ Lola Montes (1955) and Wong Kar-wai’s Ashes of Time (1994).
But the film I was looking forward to perhaps more than any other was Lucrecia Martel’s The Headless Woman (La Mujer Sin Cabeza). With La Ciénaga (2001) and The Holy Girl (2004) Martel has established herself as one of the most important filmmakers of the decade, a director with an amazing eye (and ear) who is constantly nudging at the corners of the envelope. I saw The Headless Woman at a press screening this week and it is a stunning piece of work, as visually assured and challenging as anything I have seen this year. Yet it is also an aggravating experience: Martel withholds so much information from the viewer that one is quickly as disorientated as her protagonist, a hit-and-run bourgeoise named Vero who looks like Glynis Johns and moves like the living dead. In Vero’s world the indigenous underclass of Argentina are phantoms that hover and bustle, out of focus, in the background and while that is beautifully conveyed by Martel it also feels a little glib.
The poster, while maybe too poppy and glam for this film, is fabulous. This is after all a film in which hair is regularly mentioned and assumes an iconic importance. I love the font too. Thanks to D-kaz for finding this; as ever he writes far more intelligently on the film than I ever could.
You can watch the trailer (in Spanish) here.