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Laramie Movie Scope:
The Academy of Muses
(La academia de las musas)

A literary sexual hustler

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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November 6, 2016 -- A university lecture hall is the setting for some high tone literary lechery in this talky, slow-moving art film about a professor and his pretty young female students, who get his special attention. The professor's wife feels left out, for some reason.

Raffaele Pinto plays a philology professor teaching a class about muses in literature, including “The Divine Comedy” and the story of Lancelot and Guinevere. This is not a stretch for Pinto, because he is, in fact, a philology professor in real life.

The feminists in his class don't like the professor's notions about women serving as muses because that puts the woman in a position of subservience to the artist. In the classroom scenes there are lengthy discussions about this and other aspects of muses in literature.

If this sounds a bit dull and pedantic, it is, but the film also has scenes outside the classroom, even some field studies by a student interested in the songs of farmers and the sounds in the forests. There is also one scene with partial nudity of a female student who apparently is having an affair with the professor.

Mostly, however, the professor does all the talking. He talks, and talks, and talks, using elaborate justifications for his behavior, and the shabby way he treats his wife. He spends a lot of time in class talking about women who have affairs with married men, seemingly to attract more students to have affairs with him. His wife is aware of her husband's infidelity with a long line of women, but puts up with it.

The professor gets away with his bad behavior, because he is in in position of power. However, this does seem like the kind of behavior that can get one fired. The fact that he is willing to risk his career and livelihood for these romantic liaisons calls his judgment into question. The film was made, by director José Luis Guerín, at the University of Barcelona. The spoken languages in the film are Italian, Spanish and Catalan.

Since I don't speak any of these languages, I assume I am losing a lot in translation (the film has English subtitles). The visual style, and editing of the film are unusual. There are moments when the screen goes black. This was by design. The director says, “As a filmmaker I subordinated all my resources to the staging of word: to that infinite space opened through the confrontation between two faces. No rhetorical or stylistic added: nor music, or cross-fade, neither gimmicks mounting or descriptive plans, not even a single transition shoot. When I do not have image, I leave the black screen. No insert comes to disguise. Nothing to hide: the film assumes its industrial insecurity condition, it admits its modest tools: there is nothing to hide or conceal.”

So, it's an art film. It is not bad as art films go, but I really didn't buy what the director is selling here. It has the same drawback that most Woody Allen films have, interesting, pretty, but relatively powerless, easily manipulated, emotionally volatile women characters who are victimized by men. This film rates a C.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2016 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)