Over the past three decades, Pedro Almodóvar has become one of the most widely beloved filmmakers in the world. His 2006 drama VOLVER — on Sundance Channel tonight and all month — was one of his biggest popular and critical hits, garnering its star Penelope Cruz a Best Actress Oscar nomination and helping cement his status as one of the few foreign filmmakers who could rightfully be called a household name in the U.S. To those of us who have been following his career since the beginning, this has come as a welcome surprise.
Pedro Almodovar’s The Skin I Live In—based on Thierry Jonquet’s novel, Tarantula–is officially described as being about a brilliant plastic surgeon who’s “haunted by past tragedies” involving his daughter and “creates a kind of synthetic skin that withstands any kind of damage” to deal with that old horror.
Well, you certainly can’t say that’s been done!
But hold on to your foreheads…
It angers me a great deal to hear the rumors the that play “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” is awful and will close sooner than its January 23rd final date. It makes me so, so, so mad! I have a confession. I am a gay man who really does not like musicals. They’re typically schlocky and overblown and full of false emotion. There is nothing real about them. They’re cartoons for grown-ups. Cheesy cartoons.
So of course I had low expectations to see this play, based on the frenetically energized 1988 film by Pedro Almodovar. I love that film and all it captures: the beauty, drama, color, and sorrow of Spanish women’s lives and dramas. But guess what? The play was wonderful! Marvelous! Magnifico!
With the Oscar buzz in full swing, I decided it was time to catch up on some of the films that probably should-have-been-but-were-not part of that buzz starting with Pedro Almodovar’s BROKEN EMBRACES. It’s not fair to blame the Academy, after all Spain’s Oscar shortlist committee were the ones who curiously snubbed it. Once in the theater however, I forgot all about the Oscars. I dropped happily into Almodovar’s magical world of films within films, boldly graphic sets with paintings of fruit the size of boulders, and his headstrong Spanish women who seem to charge into every scene like beautiful matadors. Sure some of the dialogue was a little clunky and some of the twists and turns a tad more melodramatic than I usually like. But all I could think as I was leaving was a quote that I’ve heard attributed to the screenwriter Robert Towne: “A movie is five or six moments.” I, however, would tweak that slightly and say… an Almodovar movie is five or six luscious images you can’t forget…