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El Calentito

By Bret McCabe | Posted 5/23/2007

THE MOVIE This 2005 Spanish movie just now coming out on DVD brings you something you didn't even know was missing from your life until you meet them: punk rock Spanish women. In 1981 Madrid, in the week leading up to the failed fascist military coup, the all-female punk outfit Las Siux--think part X-Ray Spex, part Nina Hagen--tries to score a record deal. Carmen (Ruth Díaz) is the out lesbian lead singer; Leo (Macarena Gómez, looking like Lori Petty if she were a Mondo New York extra) is the bleach-blond firebrand. They both live in a flat with Leo's Lefty boyfriend Ferdy (Jordi Vilches) and, until recently, Carmen's girlfriend Chus (Lluvia Rojo), the third Siux singer. Except Chus and Carmen have different musical and relationship needs, so Chus leaves both band and girlfriend behind after a particularly rocking set at El Calentito, the hallway-sized club owned by transgendered beauty Antonia (Nuria González).

University student Sara (the criminally adorable Verónica Sánchez) has two problems. One, she lives at home with an overbearing mother. Two, she wants to lose her virginity, but every time she's thinking about getting with a guy he turns out to be a real piece of shit. Take the dirtbag who takes her to El Calentito the night Las Siux play: Sara doesn't want him to feel up her tits while they're watching the band, so he sulks off and hooks up with some other, easier broad. A dejected Sara ends up getting sloshed and passing out in the bathroom, where Carmen finds her and gives her a place to stay. When she wakes up, she feels like a fish out of water in this happy, anything-goes home, and soon she's recruited to be the new Siux singer

Writer/director Chus Gutiérrez is nowhere near as flagrantly anarchistic as early Almodóvar (e.g., Pepi, Luci, Bom), but her sensibility is undoubtedly informed by his themes of female friendship, women's sidelined roles in Spanish culture, and the La Movida Madrileña that supported Madrid artists at the time. Gutiérrez merely squeezes it all into a silly, girly, comic good time. Really now, the world needs more movies that end with three women discarding latexlike nuns' habits to reveal freedom punk-scrawled across their naked backs.

THE DISC Very, very modest in the way of extras. The El Calentito DVD includes the original Spanish trailer for the movie and a music video coddled together out of movie clips. No idea what the song is called--in the movie it's the band's theme song--but it's lyrics go something along the lines of "We can't sing, we can't dance, we can't speak" and turns them into defiant rallying cries. Ridiculous? Yes. Incorrigibly hummable? Absolutely.

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