Last Images of the Shipwreck ('89) and The Dark Side of the Heart ('92) still rank amongst my favourite films in the Spanish language, even if their idiosyncratic magical realist poetics are a bit hit and miss at times. He'd always periodically dazzle you with one of those singular conceits, such as the character who has been deliberately learning to expunge a new word from his vocabulary every morning.
And I always felt it was an injustice that the writers of K-Pax had ripped off Hombre Mirando al Sudeste ('86) apparently without so much as crediting Subiela.
The location of this narrative in left-field kook-land is quickly established. Eloy is a young man who walks around on stilts as a hobby, but earns his keep by dressing up as an empanada and by delivering tomb-stones within the citradel-like cemetery La Recoleta in Buenos Aires.
Shortly after the death of his father Eloy starts sleep-walking and accidentally falls through a skylight, landing on the bed of a designer called Elvira who is on holiday visiting her grand-mother from Barcelona.
Elvira is played by the lovely Italian-born actress Antonella Costa. The role calls for her to be completely uninhibited about her nakedness; it also calls for her to bring an erotic (but largely un-pornographic) charge to her tantric didactics, something she only really manages in small bursts. The rest of the time - and there's quite a lot of it, given that about 70% of this film takes place in Elvira's bedroom - you just feel like rolling over and falling asleep.
Claiming to be something of a sexual savant, Elvira explains to the callow pibe how she wants him to become the best lover in BA, setting him the seemingly unrealistic goal of 81 impulsos before 'eshaculashon'.
As he approaches this target Eloy inexplicably begins to experience brief mental vacations in the far-flung places that Elvira has visited on her travels. This, she informs him, is the oracular moment of 'ejaculation without orgasm', a phrase which in many ways encapsulates the imaginative compass of this movie.
It is all preceded by a quotation from André Breton, which is no doubt intended to provide a profounder context for the frolics which follow:
"Como ocurre siempre en las epocas en que socialmente la vida no vale nada, es preciso saber ver por medios de los ojos de Eros. En el tiempo que está por llegar, a Eros le incumbe reestablecer el equilibrio roto en provecho de la muerte."Grade: B(-)
(Winner of Best Picture at the 2008 Latin American Film Festival, Best Latin American Film at the 2008 Montreal World Film Festival.)