Pedro Almodóvar

Pedro Almodóvar – Tacones lejanos aka High Heels (1991)

Pedro Almodovar’s films are an acquired taste, and with “High Heels” I am at last beginning to acquire it. Although the fashionable Spanish director’s most famous film, “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown,” is a favorite of many people, I had a curious experience with it: I simply could not engage it.

I saw it once, twice, three times finally in frustration and despair, and yet was unable to relate to anything on the screen. It slipped past me insubstantial as a ghost. His next film, “Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!,” seemed like one of those meaningless exercises the writers in the New York weeklies call “postmodernism,” as if that explained anything.

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Pedro Almodóvar – Kika (1993)

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Harshly treated by the critics on release, of Pedro Almodovar’s work, Kika is perhaps the one that most benefits from re-viewing and re-assessment.

The story of Kika (an astonishing Veronica Forque), a Madrid makeup artist whose relationship with Ramon (Alex Cassanovas) leads to criminal schemes involving Kika’s maid Juana (Rossy DePalma), Jauan’s amorous, criminal brother Pablo (Santiago Lajusticia) and Ramon’s youth-obsessed father Nicholas (Peter Coyote). Overseeing it all is the muckraking, reality tabloid television show presided over by the formidable Andrea Scarface (a uniquely attired Victoria Abril).

Attracting controversy because of the scene in which Almodovar depicts Kika’s rape at the hands of Pablo with humorous detachment, the scene has since come to be more popularly viewed as further evidence of the director’s tribute to the power of women. Read More »

Pedro Almodóvar – Hable con ella AKA Talk to Her (2002)

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The closing act of the New York Film Festival, and one of the season’s most rewarding films, Talk to Her strikes a variety of chords: It’s uproarious, whimsical, sad, preposterous–sometimes sequentially, sometimes all at once. The one-time provocateur and lover of garish pop culture shows a growing maturity in this film, mining darker, more emotionally resonant territory that gets deep under the skin even as its loopy unpredictability makes it wildly entertaining. At issue here are loneliness, loss, communication, male friendship, and the different forms love takes, all embodied with the wacky imagination for which Pedro Almodžvar is noted. Read More »

Pedro Almodóvar – Julieta (2016)

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Julieta (Emma Suarez) is a middle-aged woman living in Madrid with her boyfriend Lorenzo. Both are going to move to Portugal when she casually runs into Bea, former best friend of her daughter Antia, who reveals that this one is living in Switzerland married and with three children. With the heart broken after 12 years of total absence of her daughter, Julieta cancels the journey to Portugal and she moves to her former building, in the hope that Antia someday communicates with her sending a letter. Alone with her thoughts, Julieta starts to write her memories to confront the pain of the events happened when she was a teenager (Adriana Ugarte) and met Xoan, a Galician fisherman. Falling in love with him, Julieta divides her time between the family, the job and the education of Antia until a fatal accident changes their lives. Slowly decaying in a depression, Julieta is helped by Antia and Bea, but one day Antia goes missing suddenly after a vacation with no clues about where to find … Read More »

Pedro Almodóvar – Matador (1986)

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A dashing former matador named Diego Montes (Nacho Martínez), prematurely retired after a career-ending injury, rehearses the principal tenets of the art of the kill at a converted classroom on his estate to a group of aspiring bullfighters, including an unlikely, hypersensitive student named Angel Giménez (Antonio Banderas). The training lecture then cuts to the image of a beautiful, enigmatic woman sitting on a park bench, María (Assumpta Serna) as she initiates contact with an anonymous man innocuously passing by, follows him back to an apartment, and, at the height of physical intimacy, stabs him with a long ornamental pin behind the nape of the neck – in the region between the shoulder blades defined in bullfighting as the cleft of the clods. The shot then cuts back to the training grounds as Angel, intrigued by (and undoubtedly, attracted to) his instructor, follows Diego back to the house for a drink of water, and soon grows anxious when the conversation exposes his inexperience with women. Read More »

Pedro Almodóvar – Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios AKA Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988)

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Though the kinky characters and aberrant social behavior common to the works of Spanish director Pedro Almodovar are very evident in his Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, the film is at heart a door-slamming farce in the grand tradition. The tiny apartment of pregnant actress Carmen Maura is the “Grand Central Station” setpiece for this dizzying tale. Distraught over her recent breakup with her lover, Carmen prepares to overdose on sleeping pills, which she blends into a gazpacho so they’ll go down easier. She is diverted from her suicide by her best friend Maria Barranco, a fugitive from justice (her boy friend is a Shi’Ite terrorist) who needs a place to stay. Later, when Carmen’s apartment is empty, her ex-lover’s grown son (Antonio Banderas) comes to the apartment with his fiance (Rossy de Palma) in answer to Carmen’s “room to let” newspaper ad. The wife inadvertently ingests Carmen’s “pill sauce,” and as she blissfully snoozes, the husband inaugurates an affair with Carmen’s friend Barranco. Read More »

Pedro Almodóvar – Átame! AKA Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1989)

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Just released from residential psychiatry, where he became an all-round handyman, gentle orphan Ricky pursues his sole pathological obsession. Penniless, hence without a chance to court her, he kidnaps porn actress Marina from the set of crippled director Maximo’s last movie. At first she hates her abductor. Once she realizes he risks and bares everything for her, she gets feeling for him to. But won’t she still escape and return to her family and career? Read More »