Frida [DVD] 
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The film biography of one of Mexico's most prominent, iconoclastic painters - Frida Kahlo (Salma Hayek). Having recovered from the crippling effects of polio, Kahlo is lucky to survive a city bus accident. Bed-ridden, she is able to produce many art pieces and, when she is fit again, she presents them to Rivera (Alfred Molina) who takes her under his wing as an artist. But their relationship is no easy ride.
Salma Hayek makes up for many bad movies with her fierce performance in the sumptuous biopic Frida. Hayek plays the Mexican surrealist painter Frida Kahlo, whose tempestuous life with her unfaithful husband, muralist Diego Rivera (Alfred Molina), drives the story. Maverick director Julie Taymor (Titus, the stage production of The Lion King) pulls out a wealth of gorgeous visuals to capture everything from the horrific bus accident that damaged Kahlo's spine to her and Rivera's trip to New York City, where Rivera's political leanings ruptured a commission from the Rockefeller family. Though the script spends too much time telling us how great Frida's painting is (rather than trusting in the power of the images themselves), Taymor's dynamic energy and Kahlo's forceful personality give Frida genuine emotional impact. The superb cast includes Roger Rees, Valeria Golino, Ashley Judd, Geoffrey Rush, Antonio Banderas and Edward Norton. The Oscar-winning score is by Taymor's husband, Elliot Goldenthal. --Bret Fetzer
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Top Customer Reviews
The picture quality is uniformly gorgeous and highlights the vivid array of expertly researched detail the 150-strong production company filled every scene with - Mexican clothing, terracotta interiors, chaotic art studios and colonial South American buildings. Its default aspect is 1.78:1 - so it fills the entire screen without stretching or loss of clarity. You combine this with a sympathetically-written script, brilliant acting and a genuinely affecting and unfolding story (never mind the huge amount of EXTRAS transferred in full from the DVD - see list below) and the whole experience is a joy to re-watch and re-discover.
The first thing that strikes you about the print is that 'colour' is everywhere. It opens in Mexico in 1922 when Frida Kahlo is a precocious 15 year-old and able-bodied (before her horrific accident) and over the course of the movie progresses nearly 30 years hence - so lighting - textures - interiors - all have to be matched. The Blues, Reds, Yellows and Gold are full on and evoke a Mexico of the period (all beautifully done by Production Designer Felipe Fernandez - Oscar nominated for his work here).
The autobiographical nature of her art is captured in cleverly woven-in scenes and her painful injuries/nightmares are portrayed at times by grotesque animation peopled from her canvas creations. Frida suffered back pain all her life (an iron rod skewered her abdomen and uterus in the accident) and famously painted lying down with a mirror over her bed (she later had toes and a leg amputated due to her injuries). Yet she defied all expectations and after two years in casts managed to walk again.Read more ›
Salma Hayek, as Frida, is both tough and vulnerable, showing Frida's spontaneous, physical approach to life and her passionate dedication--to Diego, to her hard-edged paintings, and to communist philosophy. Alfred Molina, as Diego, a man who "belongs only to himself," is warm, funny, often protective, and utterly impossible as a husband. An established muralist with many commissions when he first meets her, he encourages her artistic goals, explaining, "I paint what I see--the world outside. You paint from your heart." Married, divorced, and later remarried, Frida and Diego, as we see them here, are both mutually supportive and mutually destructive.
Hayden Herrera's biography of Frida is the basis for the Clancy Sigal and Diane Lake screenplay, which emphasizes Frida's pain and her ways of dealing with it--through drink, her work, and through sex, with both women and men, including Leon Trotsky, in exile in Mexico. The settings from the 1920s and 1930s are brilliantly colorful--a bright blue house with a garden of peacocks, monkeys, and colored birds; the worksites of Rivera's passionate and brightly colored murals; and locations in Mexico City and New York. Lively Mexican music plays throughout, with new music (Elliot Goldenthall) inserted to unify scenes, the piano music being especially memorable.Read more ›
The other reviewer has been admirably comprehensive regarding the blu-ray's contents, so I'll limit this to my overall feelings. Whilst there are no sub-standard performances whatsoever in this movie, the pairing of Hayek and Molina was truly inspired. They look the part (just check out the Wikipedia page for photos of Kahlo and Rivera). They ARE the part. Two talented artistic souls, with wild free spirits (and libidos to match!), guarantee there is never a dull moment. There is a lot of humour along the way, but it's often blunted with heartache and poignancy. There's some quite profound exploration into human relationships and the subtleties between fidelity and loyalty. The main message of the film though seemed to be to seize the day and squeeze every last drop of life from the time allocated to us.
Blu-ray presentation is exceptional, with spectacular use of vibrant colour and some inventive camera angles. Surround sound (5.1 DTS) is used to very good effect too, with some very evocative music. Plenty of extras - audio commentary, extended interviews and some technical notes, complete the package.
A truly uplifting film, that inspired me to research Frida Kahlo's fascinating life and work.
Frida is played exquisitely so as to truly convey the artists story, compassion, intelligence and great love and understanding of her own culture.
For me, Khalo's work is too often dismissed as quirky, troublesome and surreal. In this brilliantly worked film both director and leading lady work hard to connect the artisits life story, beliefs, passions and trauma's to her great body of work, with empathy and understanding.
The evolution of her art is sensitively juxtaposed agaisnt the major themes of her short life. Her work is seen for what it is, both competant and skillful and contextually rich with the courage to convey her emotional exploration of identity, belonging, dissapointment, greif, development and growth.
Frida is passionate and the film is so in tune with it's subject so as display Khalo the woman with great passion and sensitivity.
This film cleverly escapes the art world labels that have misrepresented Khalo, her art and her culture, for far too long.
The cinematography is stunning, particularly the surreal imagery which is so cleverly played as to ignite the stories richness and flavour in the way the paintings intended.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
"Frida"is the life story of Frieda Kahlo, a talented Mexican artist with a unique vision, an uncompromising personality, and an aura of extramarital
scandal. Read more