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PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2008 11:48 pm 
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I just watched this on hulu and was very impressed, especially with the ending which reaches this perfect state of melancholic hope for another life. Eduardo Noriega did very well with the main role, especially after the disfigurement, and Penelope Cruz was great, and especially gorgeous at the end in that white dress.

The film's constant questioning of what is real and what isn't, along with the changing Sofia/Nuria identities, created an increasingly surreal film, and I think Nuria's appearing in his "dream life" was not simply a disruptive catalyst that launches his questioning of those around him, but also an evocation of his past lothario and fear of monogamy, that he still feared a one-woman relationship and Nubia's sudden appearance was his mind straying from Sofia.

I loved the whole sci-fi feel of the last half and psychological drama throughout, especially how César was downright unlikeable some of the time, yet I was always rooting for him despite his behavior.

I did have some problems with the film, such as Pelayo being highly unnecessary and not really serving any role outside of the jealous best friend. Also, I felt that the middle (right after César's car crash and before his meeting with Duvernois at the bar where everyone goes silent) dragged a little, but it was saved for me by a glorious ending. That shot of César and Sofia kissing on the rooftop right before he jumps put me into Stendhal syndrome for a few seconds.

Any thoughts on the film, dissenting opinions perhaps? I really would like to discuss this film. One question about the ending: Whose voice was that?


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2008 2:55 am 
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Infinitely superior to the vile Cruise remake.

This whole Phillip K. Dick vein was in vogue around then. It produced a couple of other interesting films (Cronennerg's eXistenZ and The Thirteenth Floor), as well.

Quote:
[...]perfect state of melancholic hope for another life

Well put.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2008 8:16 am 
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I liked it a lot, and I also think it's much better than the US remake (Vanilla Sky). Abre los ojos has a mystic quality not unlike Hitchcock's Vertigo, which it references heavily. Although many takes are "stolen" directly from Vertigo, I don't think Abre los ojos is a rip-off or even a pastiche, and I wouldn't call it an hommage either.

Abre los ojos seems to be built around the scene scene in Vertigo where Madeleine points at the sequoia tree telling Scottie when she was born and when she died (ie. 100 years ago!), and the two films have this "blurring" of the past, present, and future in common.

Here are some scenes visually referencing Vertigo. Left: Abre los ojos; right: Vertigo.

The first scene is a very striking camera-tilt upwards to the treetops and to the sky. When we see this shot a second time in Vertigo , Judy says, she's been here before. The shot has a similar function in Abre los ojos, when Cesar says the same thing at the occurence of this shot in the park.

Image Image

The appearance of Madeleine in the green room in Vertigo. She appears almost as a ghost, exactly as Sofia (Cruz) in Abre los ojos:

Image Image

This scene is followed by a kiss in both films. Although the scene in Abre los ojos is not filmed in the same famous circular motion as in Vertigo, the resemblance is striking.

Image Image

There are other similar scenes in the two films: The end scene on top of a building; the main charachter feeling dizzy; the psychologist in Abre los ojos saying that César confuses reality and fatasy (the same thing Elster says about Madeleine in Vertigo); the fact that Sofia is an actress in Abre los ojos, and that Scottie calls Judy an actress in Vertigo ("Did you rehearse everything?", he asks in the final scene in the tower); etc.

But still, even though Abre los ojos seems to quote Vertigo heavily, it is a fine film on its own, and I certainly don't think it's necessary to know Hitchcock's film to appreciate Amenábar's.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2008 10:04 am 
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Not sure what you-all are talking about.
This is an awful movie.
Excrutiatingly mainstream in its style and plotting with no redeeming subtlety of theme or nuanced insight into characters or humanity.
It's the worst kind of foreign movie-- one that aspires to gain entree into the slick dominant Hollywood style. Been a while since I saw it (when it came out), but I thought it had a Spielbergian level of sensory overload hammering you over the head with its obviousness and "I want to be an awesome movie".


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2008 5:50 pm 
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Donald Trampoline wrote:
no redeeming subtlety of theme or nuanced insight into characters or humanity.

I think that there was insight into Cesar, however the other characters didn't possess much nuance because they were fabrications in Cesar's mind and merely reflections of reality as his mind viewed it. Cesar himself I thought was very well-developed and he was never out of character, he never really stopped being a possessive womanizer, even with his injury. While I think Cesar's fall from grace was a bit heavy-handed, the rest of the movie would've unfolded completely differently it the accident hadn't had such a devastating effect on him. But I'm sure it could be viewed differently.

In terms of the Vertigo comparisons I never noticed that during the film, but it seems so blatantly obvious how much Ojos was influenced by Vertigo, especially in terms of its aesthetics. Very interesting, martin, I'm glad you posted that or I probably would have never noticed.

Speaking of the remake, I only saw the very end but the flashback sequence where Cruise flashes through his life I kind of liked because it wasn't just the standard memories, but also put in scenes from films I'm guessing the character was familiar with. Makes me wonder why when people's lives flash before them in movies there's never a song they remember or a film. Otherwise, though, I haven't heard anything good about the remake, and I'm not a fan of Cruise.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 17, 2008 2:28 am 
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The remake is better! I saw it first, liked it, then saw the original, and it didn't appeal to me, they are both similar though.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 17, 2008 3:21 am 
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Murdoch wrote:
Otherwise, though, I haven't heard anything good about the remake, and I'm not a fan of Cruise.

It features the worst, most cringe-inducing performance of Cameron Diaz's career.

Yeah.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 17, 2008 8:16 pm 
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Polybius wrote:
Murdoch wrote:
Otherwise, though, I haven't heard anything good about the remake, and I'm not a fan of Cruise.

It features the worst, most cringe-inducing performance of Cameron Diaz's career.

Yeah.

She might have not been good, but I loved Vanilla Sky.

Cruise was awesome in it and I loved the music.

Crowe at his best imo.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2008 1:57 pm 
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I might also add Body Double to martin's comparison with Vertigo. That film is also about following, projecting onto and then losing a fantastical woman and the way that loss throws the lead character off balance in his relationship with the whole world. The main difference between Vertigo/Body Double and Abre Los Ojos/Vanilla Sky is the class one - the hired private investigator or jobbing actor turned luxury apartment-sitter lusting over the married or out of their league women being used as patsys versus the idle rich playboys who are used to getting anything they want and are frustrated by the losses they suffer and who are both the pawns and the architects of their nightmare world.

What I felt made Vanilla Sky seem a good companion to the original was the way it could play off of the Cruise and Diaz superstar personas (whether consciously or not) - turning Cruise into another Magnolia styled self-centred guy and at the same time destroying many an audience member's fantasy about whether they'd like having Diaz as a 'fuck buddy' once they see her psycho performance! Having Penelope Cruz replay her role from the earlier film also adds an interesting chance for comparison, making her even more of a muse figure for the story material as much as for the main character himself. The baggage the actors brought to the material seemed to work in favour of the film in this case, since one of the major themes is of masks (of politeness, of manners, of not showing neediness, of beauty) slipping and revealing things that would normally be a wonderful revalation that would deepen a relationship between people, but which in a world based only on surfaces can be an embarrassing insight that show weaknesses that can be used against you.

It seemed a logical extrapolation to take the Spanish playboy and turn him into the trust-funded Cruise character in a even more cinematic and already a little off-kilter city. Both versions of the films may be difficult to like since they boil down to rich characters in (seemingly) idyllic worlds destroying themselves through dilemmas any one of us would kill to have over the day to day troubles of just keeping our heads above water. However I like the way the film is all about the main character trying to cushion himself from having to make difficult choices - whether that is complaining about the injustice but never simply leaving the hated board of directors who control his trust fund or creating a 'perfect' fantasy world when the real one becomes too much to bear. It is about the process of at least taking control of your own life rather than letting others control or decide for you that the character comes to by the end of the film - however the real struggle for individuality is going to begin after the film ends once he has woken up.

It has been a while since I've seen either film but doesn't the main character shoots a couple of security guards in the lobby of the building once he realises his world is not real in Abre Los Ojos, before he goes to the roof? In Vanillia Sky Cruise similarly goes down to the lobby but then the film moves straight to his noticing the doors to the lift to the roof opening. I often wonder whether the remake had a shooting spree scene or whether that was never an intention of Crowe's film.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2008 8:53 pm 
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colinr0380 wrote:
It has been a while since I've seen either film but doesn't the main character shoots a couple of security guards in the lobby of the building once he realises his world is not real in Abre Los Ojos, before he goes to the roof?

Yes, this does occur, Cesar kills the two policemen that accompanied him to the company building, which I think represents him at his breaking point and the part where his whole fantasy world falls apart, since right after the policemen shoot back everyone disappears, Cesar and his psychologist remain and it leads to the great reveal on the building roof.

Very interesting insights into the film, and I will be checking out Vanilla Sky since you make credible points about the use of Cruise and Diaz, both of whom I've never been fans of but did like Cruise in Magnolia. Also, Body Double will also be put into my netflix queue since I'm a sucker for films where a man loses his idealistic woman and is catapulted into another world of sorrow.

colinr0380 wrote:
However I like the way the film is all about the main character trying to cushion himself from having to make difficult choices - whether that is complaining about the injustice but never simply leaving the hated board of directors who control his trust fund or creating a 'perfect' fantasy world when the real one becomes too much to bear. It is about the process of at least taking control of your own life rather than letting others control or decide for you that the character comes to by the end of the film - however the real struggle for individuality is going to begin after the film ends once he has woken up.

I noticed this as well in the film, and I felt that Cesar leaping and waking up into the current reality was his acceptance of his loss of Sofia, with that final kiss being his farewell not only to her, but also to all that he left behind in his old life, including the psychologist who was really just a figment of his imagination.

Which leads me to the character of the psychologist as a reflection of Cesar himself and how he viewed his father. Cesar notices how much the doctor looks like his father, and the doctor's guidance of him despite others' objections represents Cesar's close relationship with his father and how he viewed his father as his shield when he was younger, his father protected him and once he died along with his mother that represented his break with reality, leading to him becoming a womanizer and living in this care-free world. Cesar's image of his father and how he remembers him creates the image of the doctor in his head, and enables him to finally solve his mind's puzzle, to allow him to overcome the obstacles Cesar has put in front of himself. His meeting again with his father - as a figment in the imaginary world - causes Cesar to not only be able to leave the world he has created in his mind, but also that which he became after his father's death; someone using women as objects to dispense his love for fear of a close relationship. It could be argued that Sofia represents this break with his womanizing ways, but when Sofia and Nuria become interchangeable to Cesar it demonstrates his continuing possessive view of women and a further disconnection with life, neither of which he is able to leave until after the leap, hopefully.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2008 11:18 pm 
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colinr0380 wrote:
In Vanillia Sky Cruise similarly goes down to the lobby but then the film moves straight to his noticing the doors to the lift to the roof opening. I often wonder whether the remake had a shooting spree scene or whether that was never an intention of Crowe's film.

In the trailer there's a clip of Cruise shooting at guards storming the lobby, so it looks as though the sequence was removed.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2015 7:40 pm 
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An 'alternate ending' (apparently including the shootout scene similar to that in Abre los ojos we had speculated about earlier) edition of Vanilla Sky has been released on Blu-ray.


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