Thursday, March 23, 2006

Coming Soon #8: "Volver"

Coming Soon But Not Soon Enough
#8 Volver (Sony Pictures Classics. Arriving in June. Now playing in Spain.)

I still vividly recall my introduction to the colorful, supremely cinematic world of Pedro Almodovar. It was a one two punch in short succession. I rented Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown out of sheer curiousity (based on the title) and found myself both disoriented and highly amused. Then a friend of a friend of a friend begged me to sit down with Law of Desire. I was a devotee from then on. I never saw that acquaintance again but damned if I don't owe him a loudly uttered "thank you."

For the past six years Pedro has been enjoying a beautiful creative renaissance. All About My Mother renewed Almodovar fever in 1999 (and won him the Foreign Film Oscar). Improbably Talk To Her didn't suffer by comparison and was considered another instant classic (He won a second Oscar and neared the top of my top ten list). And two years ago Bad Education's "fag noir" provided more thrills for adventurous filmgoers. Put simply: Almodovar is the most consistently thrilling auteur that's regularly working.

His latest feature Volver reunites him at long last with the star of his first Carmen Maura, arguably his greatest muse. Spanish beauty and blight on Hollywood films Penelope Cruz also stars. But I don't mind. Almodovar knows just how to use her talent. Maura plays the ghost of Cruz's mother.

Now if Pedro would only invite Victoria Abril back in the mix...

My trinity of favorites
Law of Desire (1986), All About My Mother (1999), Talk to Her (2002)
Most underappreciated
¡Átame! (1990)
Performances I love the most
Carmen Maura in Law of Desire(1986), Victoria Abril in both Kika(1994) and ¡Átame!(1990), and Gael Garcia Bernal in Bad Education(2004)
My least favorite
Matador (1987)
Haven't seen [embarrassed]
Pepi, Luci, Bom (1980), The Flower of My Secret (1995)

tags: Penelope Cruz, Pedro Almodovar, Volver, movies

previous "coming soons"
Inland Empire, Little Children, Margaret, Bug and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Zodiac


Unknown said...

don't worry Nathaniel, you haven't missed anything special.. Pepi Luci Bom is fun but chaotic, and The Flower of My Secret only deserves to be seen for the spectacular acting duel in supporting roles between Chus Lampreave and Rossy de Palma

Anonymous said...

I've only see All About my Mother and Bad Education. I prefer the former, but I love them both. In fact I watch them all the time.

Anonymous said...

I have to confess I don't care that much for Almodovar's pre-Flower of my secret efforts, except for the marvelous Ata-me!. As a matter of fact, I hate Law of Desire, Matador and Tacones Lejanos. I prefer his extremely elegant directing and writing in Talk To Her and Live Flesh. His loves stories are much better than his hysterical comedies.

cal roth

Anonymous said...

Hi, you should definitely see "The flower of my secret". To me, it's one of Almodovar's finest films.

Anonymous said...

What about Dark Habits ?

Antonio Banderas was so sexy playing gay roles....

Glenn Dunks said...

LOVE Almodovar. First I saw Mother and FELL. IN. LOVE. Then I saw The Flower of my Secret and was impressed, but not blown away. Then Live Flesh and loved that one. Then Talk to Her, loved that too. And then Bad Education and wouldncha know, I loved that one as well. I just wish they'd release Women on the Verge and Laws of Desire on DVD.