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Bad Education Review


Extraordinary
Pedro Almodóvar's films have always oozed adoration for tawdry movie melodrama, from the Telemundo-on-cocaine gaudiness of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown to the sweet, sentimental "women's picture" romance of The Flower of My Secret. And the auteur's latest, Bad Education, may be his defining statement on the fundamental relationship between ordinary life and the illusions projected large in dark, mysterious movie houses. A fantasia of Almodóvar's trademark hang-ups that nonetheless surpasses his previous outings in scope, structure, and heart, the movie is a marvelous, noir-inspired meditation on love, sex, and identity that pulses with florid passion. It may be the best film of the year.

Almodóvar's narrative is a marvel of temporal-shifting beauty, seamlessly moving back and forth between the film's "present" of 1988, the immediate past, and a short story written by Angel (Gael García Bernal) which segues among 1988, 1977, and the 1960s while featuring its own story-within-a-story. While such convoluted chronological fracturing is initially confusing, the ultimate effect of the director's time-hopping plot construction - especially considering that Bernal tackles multiple, intimately related roles - is that one quickly finds the boundaries between reality and fiction melting away. Life and art symbiotically imitate each other in Almodóvar's colorful, hot-blooded world, with no discussion of the one complete without mention of the other. And with the story of Angel and Enrique, boyhood friends at Catholic school who are reunited years later and become involved in a semi-autobiographical movie about their youth, the relationship between fiction and reality becomes so blurred that, by film's end, there's no way to distinguish between the two.

Continue reading: Bad Education Review

Bad Education Review


Extraordinary
Pedro Almodóvar's films have always oozed adoration for tawdry movie melodrama, from the Telemundo-on-cocaine gaudiness of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown to the sweet, sentimental "women's picture" romance of The Flower of My Secret. And the auteur's latest, Bad Education, may be his defining statement on the fundamental relationship between ordinary life and the illusions projected large in dark, mysterious movie houses. A fantasia of Almodóvar's trademark hang-ups that nonetheless surpasses his previous outings in scope, structure, and heart, the movie is a marvelous, noir-inspired meditation on love, sex, and identity that pulses with florid passion. It may be the best film of the year.

Almodóvar's narrative is a marvel of temporal-shifting beauty, seamlessly moving back and forth between the film's "present" of 1988, the immediate past, and a short story written by Angel (Gael García Bernal) which segues among 1988, 1977, and the 1960s while featuring its own story-within-a-story. While such convoluted chronological fracturing is initially confusing, the ultimate effect of the director's time-hopping plot construction - especially considering that Bernal tackles multiple, intimately related roles - is that one quickly finds the boundaries between reality and fiction melting away. Life and art symbiotically imitate each other in Almodóvar's colorful, hot-blooded world, with no discussion of the one complete without mention of the other. And with the story of Angel and Enrique, boyhood friends at Catholic school who are reunited years later and become involved in a semi-autobiographical movie about their youth, the relationship between fiction and reality becomes so blurred that, by film's end, there's no way to distinguish between the two.

Continue reading: Bad Education Review

Darkness Review


Bad
I love road trips. Not because I'm especially fond of sitting in my car for days at a time, but because with each passing mile a promise is fulfilled. Every hour behind the wheel draws you nearer to your destination, and along the way you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. But, though paperback self-help writers may tell you otherwise, the journey itself is not enough. You have to actually get somewhere to make the whole trip worthwhile. And if, at the end of a day's travel, you haven't gone anywhere at all, you've wasted all your time and a whole lot of gas.

Like a long road trip to nowhere, Spanish director Jaume Balagueró's Darkness is miserable, frustrating, and hard on the buttocks. Though the film's run time is a mere 102 minutes, the psychological impact of wasting precious money and energy staring at the screen and waiting for something -- anything -- to happen could take years off your life.

Continue reading: Darkness Review

Lovers Of The Arctic Circle Review


Very Good
Surprising, haunting, magical, and spiritual -- Lovers of the Arctic Circle presents a strange story of love and bizarre coincidence, a journey across decades that begins when a boy falls in love with a girl at school. When their parents end up getting married, "brother and sister" begin a torrid affair, then eventually split up when, as a young man, the boy leaves to seek his destiny. As adults, the two try to seek each other out again, converging upon a small island in the Arctic Circle.

Reminscent of Map of the Human Heart, the film is slow to get going and a bit gimmicky (telling the story from both points of view, repeating the scenes with a different slant), but it all pays off in the end. Give it a chance; you're sure to fall in love with all three actresses that play the woman throughout her life.

Continue reading: Lovers Of The Arctic Circle Review

Open Your Eyes Review


Excellent
If Stanley Kubrick and David Lynch had collaborated on a project, the result might have been something like Open Your Eyes. Kubrick's most common themes -- imaginary worlds, sexual and social obsessions, distrust of emotion, human depravity, and a journey towards freedom and self-knowledge -- present themselves here. Lynch's usual themes -- dreams and illusion vs. reality, persuasion, fear, self-submission, murder, and curiosity -- also sprinkle themselves into this movie's stirring, complex recipe.

From the moment the movie opens, it's unclear of what is real and what is not. We meet a handsome, young, successful businessman named César (Eduardo Noriega), who drives expensive cars, resides in a classy residence, and enjoys an endless supply of beautiful women.

Continue reading: Open Your Eyes Review

Talk To Her Review


Good

Spanish auteur Pedro Amoldóvar has a special talent for making eccentrics feel accessible. His films are always populated, at least in part, by unusual characters (transvestites, bondage freaks, pregnant nuns) who are so fully developed as characters -- and as human beings -- that they seem no stranger than your next door neighbor.

In "Talk To Her," the director's central weirdo an awkward, obsessive, socially incongruous male nurse with a stalker's crush on a comatose patient. His name is Benigno (Javier Camara) and his intensely sheltered life of caring for his fake-invalid mother has not only compelled him toward this kind of imaginary, one-sided "relationship," it was also the catalyst for his obsession in the first place.

Benigno lived with his mother across the street from a dance studio where he first became dumbstruck by Alicia (Leonor Watling), watching her through the windows before a hit-and-run accident left her hospitalized and effectively brain-dead. Having taken correspondence courses in nursing to better care for the old woman -- who had since died and left him alone in the apartment from which he rarely ventured -- Benigno convinced the girl's father to hire him as her private nurse.

Continue reading: Talk To Her Review

Open Your Eyes Review


Excellent

"Open Your Eyes" is a jaw-dropping psychological thriller about the power of the human mind to bend and break reality -- or is it?

With more twists than a strand of DNA, co-writer and director Alejandro Amenabar delves headlong into the increasingly erratic mind of a rich, charming, devastatingly handsome egoist who becomes unhinged after being horribly disfigured in a car crash.

Eduardo Noriega plays Cesar, a habitual love 'em and leave 'em charmer who at his 25th birthday party meets Sofia (Penelope Cruz), his best friend's date and the first girl who has ever truly made his heart race.

Continue reading: Open Your Eyes Review

Bad Education Review


Good

What I've always enjoyed most about the films of Spanish cinema provocateur Pedro Almodóvar is that his idiosyncratic, sexually ironic, deeply consequential trademarked twists of fate never cease to surprise me. Characters are always more complex than they first seem. Relationships are always intricate and knotted with intimate humanity. And his stories regularly take sudden left turns or accelerate unexpectedly from a pleasant trot to a reign-gripping gallop.

There's no predicting the heart, the humor or the horror of the writer-director behind the hilarious "Women of the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown," the kinky "Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down" and the affecting "All About My Mother" -- and in "Bad Education" he creates a wily, passionate puzzle several layers deep in both personality and plot.

Fele Martinez (who also starred in "Talk to Her" for Almodóvar in 2002) plays Enrique, a wunderkind movie director whose high-profile early success in life begets an unsolicited intrusion from Ignacio (Gael Garcia Bernal), a seemingly forgotten childhood friend from Catholic school who is now a bad actor (you can tell just from his cheesy head-shots) with a script to pitch and a burning desire to play his own cross-dressing lead character.

Continue reading: Bad Education Review

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Fele Martinez Movies

Bad Education Movie Review

Bad Education Movie Review

Pedro Almodóvar's films have always oozed adoration for tawdry movie melodrama, from the Telemundo-on-cocaine gaudiness...

Bad Education Movie Review

Bad Education Movie Review

Pedro Almodóvar's films have always oozed adoration for tawdry movie melodrama, from the Telemundo-on-cocaine gaudiness...

Darkness Movie Review

Darkness Movie Review

I love road trips. Not because I'm especially fond of sitting in my car for...

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Talk To Her Movie Review

Talk To Her Movie Review

Spanish auteur Pedro Amoldóvar has a special talent for making eccentrics feel accessible. His films...

Open Your Eyes Movie Review

Open Your Eyes Movie Review

"Open Your Eyes" is a jaw-dropping psychological thriller about the power of the human mind...

Bad Education Movie Review

Bad Education Movie Review

What I've always enjoyed most about the films of Spanish cinema provocateur Pedro Almodóvar is...

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