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.
Not that sequels prequels, slapstick comedies, superhero flicks, and action/adventure thrillers can’t be intelligent, lol. But still, can we expect anything a cut above? Yes! Some warm-weather flicks are filtering in made by actual artistes with real aspirations, at least judging from the heady descriptions. Some of them are even coming before summer’s official start date. Here are some of the most promising looking options for your summer cinema plans:
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…
Overly fussy moviegoers who are disappointed that director Rob Marshall’s lush musical NINE doesn’t live up to Fellini’s 8½ is ridiculous and, frankly, irrelevant criticism. It should be noted that Marshall, who has a background in choreography and an Oscar-winning film (CHICAGO) under his belt, didn’t set out to remake a Fellini, but to adapt “Nine,” the Broadway musical. However, even without precedent, NINE holds its own ground.