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Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (free)

  • Chazen Museum of Art 750 University Avenue Madison, WI, 53706 United States (map)

Before Fifty Shades Of Grey (Twilight fanfic) became a billion-dollar sensation this decade and tamed the taboo allure of BDSM, its depiction in cinema was often handled with a deft, more complex, and comedic edge, as in Steven Shainberg's Secretary (2002). Predating that by over a decade, Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1989) features one of Pedro Almodóvar's wildest and most contentious scenarios, and it will stand as the most provocative film ever to screen in the Chazen Museum of Art (particularly for a Sunday afternoon) as part of UW Cinematheque's semester-long retrospective of the renowned Spanish director. While it may initially strike a familiar note with its vivacious color scheme and hyperbolic characterizations—things it shares in common with Almodóvar's previous film, Women On the Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown (1988)—the tone is noticeably edgier in the deranged motivations of principal male, former mental patient Ricky (Antonio Banderas). During his time in the institution, he's become obsessed with his one-time lover, softcore porn star, and recovering addict Marina Osorio (Victoria Abril). In order to fulfill his lustful fantasy of beginning a family together, Ricky orchestrates a perverse scheme that involves binding and gagging Marina. Expectedly, Almodóvar observes the ensuing dynamic between the complicated psychologies of Ricky and Marina with a sense of the absurd, while their eccentric entanglement becomes a commentary on the phenomenon of Stockholm Syndrome. Despite Ennio Morricone's lively score, the core of their connection seems to be framed and accentuated like a timeless theatrical tragedy. The MPAA wasn't exactly sure what to make of Tie Me Up!... upon release and slapped it with the commercially fatal "X" rating, which was later revised when "NC-17" was created at the start of the '90s. —Grant Phipps