EL FRANCONOMICON / I'M IN A JESS FRANCO STATE OF MIND

Robert Monell & Alex Mendíbil Blog Alliance

LAS CHICAS DEL TANGA (1983)

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This is a wonderfully droll, multi-story mosaic, done in the signature style of Jess Franco at his most satiric and ironic. The subject is the tourist city of Benidorm, Spain. A group of tourists arrive and interact with some of the locals in amusing, touching and curious ways. One of Jess Franco’s love-hate letters to the city which he obviously finds crass and tastelessly designed. The city is cubism gone Las Vegas, a le courbusier nightmare. At least as photographed by Jess Franco.

It also illustrates how he uses his camera, music, montage and stock company for expressing his personal feelings about Spanish culture. Very mixed feelings. He finds it exuberant, rude and funny. Antonio Mayans, also the production manager, his wife and children play key roles in the film. IN a way, this film reminds me of Robert Altman’s Country & Western music epic, NASHVILLE (1975), only done on a no-budget scale and shot in a few days. The overall multi-story structure, the equal focus on many characters instead of one or two, the cynical tone, the aesthetics are very similar. A group portrait of numerous individuals intersecting in a certain place at a certain time, with bittersweet results.

Below is a translation by Nzoog from the opening narration:

The summer season’s nearing its end and the sun now rises much later. The city awakens, slowly and sleepily. The police cars are doing their last round while the cleaning women are hurrying up, as the first customers, those foreigners who rise along with the cocks, will be arriving very soon. A few madmen practice jogging, while some visitors, presumably from the furthermost northern countries, have the courage to bathe at dawn. The dawn is a misty one; we’re Benidorm. And it will not take long for the sun to assert itself in its daily struggle against the mist. The first children can be seen in the streets; the departure of a circus troupe has been announced; and the first Benidorm girl starts her frantic day’s work. Also, the first tourist, camera in hand, starts taking pictures of the city’s most unusual corners. Her name’s Ana and she’s a typical product of Benidorm: one of many girls who came here and decided to stay. His name’s Philippe and he seems particularly interested in the city’s chaotic architecture. Also, hovering around the town’s leading hotels, the first local playboys have begun their quest for female tourists.” [Thanks to Nzoog]
Hopefully this very personal essay on a topic unknown to those who don’t know Spain or Jess Franco, but somehow universal in its insight, really needs an HD release.

Below: The cinematographer (Juan Soler Cozar) and the production manager (Antonio Mayans) share a moment at a sidewalk cafe below the bizarre architecture of Benidorm. The shady capital of Costa Del Sol tourism is a favorite site  for cultural/aesthetic ridicule from Jess Franco.

Robert Monell's photo.
Robert Monell's photo.

The tourist towers of Benidorm are a Le Corbusier nightmare.

Robert Monell's photo.

The cinematographer of the film plays a photographer who snaps shots of the rude architecture of Benidorm.

Robert Monell's photo.
{C} Robert Monell & Nzoog 2015

Written by Robert Monell

5 junio 2015 a 8:18 PM

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