OBJECTIVE: Give Bill twenty bucks every month. Watch the foreign film he brings back without any subtitles. Figure out what the hell is going on.

BAD EDUCATION (2004, Spain)

REMAINING CHANGE: $12. 10 +1+1=12. There’s some good education for you.

THE CHARACTERS AS I UNDERSTAND THEM:
Hola, amigos! I was going to include the upside-down exclamation point at the beginning of that sentence for accuracy, but Spanish punctuation is superfluous and dumb¡ Our film brings us to the magical land of Spain, or as my dad calls it, Mexico. I will confess that I took a semester of Spanish in the seventh grade, but I only learned enough to say, “I would like five bananas.” For those of you who are curious how to say that, you simply hold up five fingers and point to bananas. This Spanish movie is actually a movie-within-a-movie: ForeIGNCEPTION! To help you (me, really) keep track of the characters, I’ve included this handy guide with pictures.

The Screenplay

You’ll grow to hate this.

“La Visita” is the movie-within-the-movie. I have no idea who Ignacio Rodriguez is, sorry. Well, it might be Ángel’s roommate, but I don’t understand the significance. I never promised this would be helpful.

Ángel/Zahara/(maybe) Matthew?/Juan?

Please excuse your boner.”

Ángel presents “La Visita” to Enrique, and he may or may not be the most important person on whom the entire movie is centered; however, I’m positive that his buttonhole is the focal point for every male character’s penis.  He also plays the the lead role of the cross-dressing  Zahara in “La Visita.” Oh, and Zahara might be Matthew.

Enrique

 Spanish Sam Rockwell.

Director of “La Visita” and donor/recipient of a handjob to/from Matthew inside a movie theater while they were boys at school. That fact is, creepily, relevant. Has sex with Ángel.

This Guy

Spanish Sir Kelsey Grammer from the front, Spanish Sir Jorah from the side.

This guy definitely has sex with Ángel. He might be a movie producer. My dark horse theory is that he’s actually the priest that is being portrayed in “La Visita.” So, my unmatched skills of deduction have limited the field to either a movie producer or priest, and there’s a slight possibility he could be anything else, as well.

Fucked If I Know

Cheetara fell on hard times.

I want to say this is Ignacio, but this may also be Matthew. I’m avoiding using a pronoun because the LGBT community has more identifications than the DSM-V and I’m even less versed in that than in Spanish. Ignacio/Matthew is definitely Ángel’s roommate, and might be the writer of “La Visita.” Shockingly, does not have sex with Ángel.

THE PLOT AS I UNDERSTOOD IT:
Here goes nothing. Bad Education begins with Ángel meeting old friend Enrique and pitching him a movie, “La Visita.” “La Visita” sounds like it’s a musical about a visitor set in New England, but it’s really a story about the life of Matthew, and his road to… well, his uh–

8-bit dick sucking?

You see, Matthew, now a transvestite named Zahara, masquerades around Madrid sucking dick like a tractor beam. That gentleman in the picture above is Enrique’s portrayal in “La Visita,” and he serves no purpose to the plot of either movie whatsoever.

After cashing in on his chance to play cowboy on a sleeping Enrique, Zahara and her repulsive buddy go to a church to steal candleholders and other expensive baubles. Not understanding Spanish, or their preferred gender identity, I concluded that this scene helped Bad Education pass the Bechdel Test.

“This passes.” – Dr. Bechdel

In the course of pinching God’s knickknacks, Zahara discovers that the priest running the mass is none other than Padre Pedo, a priest who pinched Matthew’s knickknacks when he was a boy. Zahara sneaks into Padre Pedo’s office, sits down, lights a smoke, and takes us back to his bad education.

Uh oh.

Matthew’s history is related to us, the horrified audience, through the shooting of “La Visita.” We learn that as a boy, Matthew was a sweet, sweet piece of ass. I’m talking irresistible to every priest and 9-year-old boy in the whole town. He sang like a bird, and with that radiant smile and those adorably large ears, it’s no wonder that his milkshake brought all the boys and old men sworn to uphold and teach the virtues of God to the yard. Just ask our buddy Enrique, who went to the theater with Matthew and ended up in what looked like a contest to see who could rip the other’s penis off from their groin.

Alas, Padre Pedo cockblocks young love. One day, all the boys go down to the river to swim and it is there that a rape– FOR FUCK’S SAKE, BILL. I’VE HAD IT UP TO HERE WITH SAMURAI PRINCESS BULLSHIT IN EVERY MOVIE I WATCH! Okay, sorry. You see, while all the other boys go for a swim and do fun boy stuff, Matthew sings “Moon River” and Padre Pedo plays guitar behind a large, conveniently-good-for-concealing-attempted-rapes bush. If you are having trouble with this, like I am, just imagine it’s that scene from Fletch when Chevy Chase gets his prostate examined and sings “Moon River.” It’s basically the same thing.

“No rape here!”

Padre Pedo catches Enrique and Matthew hiding in the bathroom one night when he went stalking into the bedroom as the boys slept, and he makes sure the school gives Enrique the boot because he’s super jealous. Bad Education then cuts back to current events outside of “La Visita,” which is basically Enrique fighting with Ángel, then going to Ángel’s/(Matthew’s?) childhood home, then patching up the relationship by having sex with Ángel. According to the rules of gay sex, Jesus sends a hurricane to destroy a poor island nation somewhere offscreen after this.

The movie then goes back to the scene in “La Visita” with Zahara sitting in Padre Pedo’s office, at which point a fat priest comes in and snaps Zahara’s neck, then Enrique yells “cut” and Ángel starts crying. That is the last scene we see from “La Visita,” and then shit gets real weird.

Señor Kelsey Grammer makes his appearance and proceeds to fuck shit up. He seems to relish in telling Enrique how he went to Ángel’s apartment and, you guessed it, boned him. Well, he was going to bone him, but Ángel’s roommate comes in and interrupts them. This is precisely why roommates everywhere need to agree on a system to avoid this sort of thing.

And maybe if they didn’t waste 20 minutes trying to get the right shot…

Señor Kelsey Grammer is the man who ruined my understanding of the movie. I don’t know who he is, I don’t know why he gives drugs and favors to Ángel’s roommate, and I don’t understand why a nice, young guy like Ángel would waste his time with him when WE WERE MEANT TO BE TOGETHER. LET ME MAKE YOU FEEL LOVE, ÁNGEL!

Señor Kelsey and Ángel go on a couple of dates, they say goodbye to each other for good in a downpour, Ángel comes home to find Ignacio dead at her typewriter, and he brings the letter she was writing to Enrique and the movie ends.

Even I know that isn’t right.

Well, the movie doesn’t quite end, because there is an epilogue that explains everything. FUCK YOU, BILL. FUCK YOU SO HARD. I. DON’T. KNOW. SPANISH. Bill presumably did this to me because I beat him and the other Cinemanauts and Lab Rats in a Twitter flame war not too long ago.

THE “OKAY, YOU LOST ME” MOMENT:

This.

HOW MUCH I ENJOYED WHAT I THOUGHT WAS HAPPENING:
A lot. I don’t mean I like institutionalized sexual abuse, but I liked the portrayal of it. Take note, Samurai Princess, this is how you do it. Pedro Almodóvar handles the sensitive topic with great tact and manages to still keep the full emotional impact of the subject matter. The only thing I would change is the last half hour because everything important happened and I was so lost that it created a vacuum inside my body that sucked my heart into oblivion. I really wish I knew who Matthew is.

And now, Cinemanaut Bill ranks James on his ability to comprehend the film.

  • Nailed it: Impressively, James managed to keep up with the story-within-a-story-within-a-story aspect of the film. Also, he remembered more names than I did with the subtitles on.
  • Failed it: In fairness, I had to pause the movie myself a few times to keep up, but nevertheless, James missed some cuh-razy plot twists. The biggest reveal is that Fucked If I Know is Ángel’s brother (a pretty good reason for why they don’t ever have sex) and Ángel has been impersonating him after his death. Enrique figures this out but doesn’t tell Ángel to see if he’ll take the lie all the way to Pork Town, which he does. Padre Pedo visits the film set and discovers that the new, punched-up draft of the script is actually closer to what really happened: blackmail, sex, murder– you know what? Here’s the Wikipedia page, knock yourself out. This was some complicated shit. Also, nobody was named Matthew. I think James just misheard “Ignacio” with a Castilian Spanish lisp as “Matthew.”
  • Improved it: I agree, Ángel should have ended up with James.

FINAL GRADE: C

James S. is a member of the Portland Comedy Co-op and doesn’t really use Twitter.