High Heels (Tacones lejanos) (Umbrella Ent) (1991)

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Released 6-Jul-2010

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama TV Spots
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1991
Running Time 109:24
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Pedro Almodóvar
Studio
Distributor
El Deseo S.A.
Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Victoria Abril
Marisa Paredes
Miguel Bosé
Anna Lizaran
Mayrata O'Wisiedo
Cristina Marcos
Féodor Atkine
Pedro Díez del Corral
Bibiana Fernández
Nacho Martínez
Miriam Díaz Aroca
Rocío Muñoz
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Ryûichi Sakamoto


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Rebeca (Victoria Abril) is a TV newsreader married to Manuel (Feodor Atkine), the head of the network. At the start of the film she is at Madrid Airport waiting to meet her mother Becky del Paramo (Marisa Paredes), the mother who abandoned her 15 years before to go to Mexico and pursue a successful singing career. Their reunion opens old memories and more recent revelations: Becky and Manuel had been lovers and this liaison is resumed although Manuel is also currently involved with Isabel (Miriam Diaz Aroca) who also works at the TV station. Soon after her mother’s arrival, they go to see the act of Letal (Miguel Bose), a female impersonator who imitates Becky; after the performance Rebeca and Letal have sex. When a month later Manuel is shot dead, the three women who visited him that night, Rebeca, Becky and Isabel, are suspects brought before Investigating Magistrate Dominguez, who has his own secrets and his own agenda. During a TV broadcast Rebeca confesses to killing Manuel and is arrested and gaoled. In prison she meets Paula (Cristina Marcos) and, in intersecting arcs, learns that Paula had been living with Letal (who she knows as Hugo) and believes that he was both a junky and a police informer. But is Rebeca really guilty of murder and why has Letal disappeared?

     High Heels (Tacones lejanos) may be early period Pedro Almodovar, but it explores many of the trademark themes: the female experience, communication between parents and children, loss and grief, identity and who you are. Key to the film is the relationship between Rebeca and her mother, the mother who had abandoned her daughter and whose career has blossomed as a result. As Rebeca, Victoria Abril is simply sublime and the scene where she confronts her mother and confesses to past sins and why she married Manuel is powerful cinema and beautiful to watch. Marisa Paredes is also very good but the two tend to overshadow the other actors.

     High Heels is also typical Almodovar with its use of vibrant, garish primary colours, especially red and blue, to tell the story. Every set, houses and rooms, is oversaturated with vertical and horizontal lines, ornaments, mirrors and colours. There are other quirks, such as the prison dance sequence, but in the main High Heels is an interesting murder mystery/ relationship drama that works well. It may be early Pedro Almodovar, but it is well worth a look.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     High Heels is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.77:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The original theatrical ratio was 1.85:1.

     This is a reasonable print. Sharpness is not too bad, clarity and brightness are good and the vibrant primary colour scheme is well presented. Many scenes have a very cluttered background with loud wallpaper or intentional garish primary colours, reds and blues predominating. As a result of the loud colours there is some colour bleed evident and edge enhancement. Blacks are solid and shadow detail fine. Close ups show natural skin tones. There is grain and frequent scratches and artefacts in some scenes; they are noticeable but seldom distracting.

     The English subtitles are in a clean white font without any obvious spelling or grammatical errors.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded at 192 Kbps that works fine for this kind of film drama. Dialogue is clear and the surrounds supplied music and some sound effects. The performance numbers came across well. My sub did give limited support to the music.

     Lip sync is fine.

     The music by Ryuichi Sakamoto is a mixture of Spanish guitars, horns and orchestral score and is a good accompaniment to the film.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

TV Spot (0:21)

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     I could not find a Region 1 version of High Heels. There are various Region 2 versions from the UK, Germany and the Netherlands but none contain as extras more than the TV spot we have, except for trailers for other films. The audio and video are similar (although some are reported to be in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio I cannot confirm this). A draw I think.

Summary

     High Heels from 1991 may be early period Almodovar but it explores many of his trademark themes. It is also an interesting murder mystery/ relationship drama. Video and audio are acceptable, extras negligible, although there is nothing available I can find that is better elsewhere. Worth a look for Almodovar fans or anyone interested in quality world cinema.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42inch Hi-Def LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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