This central focus, the platonically affectionate friendship of two men, is admirably rare to begin with. Sure, men are pals in domestic-made features, but they rarely hug or discuss emotional dysfunction because American society is so homophobic. Audiences and critics alike are attuned to the slightest hint that a film might be presenting a gay character or subplot so that it can be easy to dismiss even the most intelligent works of fiction as simply "queer" without giving it the further attention to human issues it deserves. One would think that writer/director Almodóvar would lean more towards gay/lesbian issues, being a homosexual, but he thankfully seems bent on capturing the essence of people, in all their parts, and not just whom they choose to sleep with. His consistently honest stance, both in interviews and film projects, fuels his ability to intelligently articulate heart-wrenching and heartwarming experiences with all of his creations, regardless of sexual orientation.
Continue reading: Talk To Her Review
The film opens with one of the most harrowing depictions of a near-lynching ever captured on film. In a small town in Ecuador, mourners hold a funeral for the most recent victim of the "Monster of Babahoyo," whose tally of tortured, butchered children is already in the hundreds. After the ceremony, the twin brother of the victim is suddenly run over in a tragic accident. In a murderous rage, the father of the boy and some of the townspeople attempt to immolate the driver, Vinicio (Damián Alcázar). At the last minute, he is saved in part by the efforts of Manolo (John Leguizamo), a famous telejournalist there to cover the slayings.
Continue reading: Crónicas Review
Here's the setup: Three sisters dote on their divorced mother (Rosa María Sardà), a concert pianist, but find themselves shocked when she turns up attached to a young Czech girl who speaks broken Spanish. After plenty of Woody Allen-style neurosis, the trio hatches a plan to break up mom and lover by finding a surrogate for the Czech's affections. Eventually this falls on the most troubled of the sisters, Elvira (Leonor Watling), and soon enough mom is single again. Alas, she's so depressed that she's lost her girlfriend that the sisters have a change of heart, travelling to the Czech Republic to convince the girl to go back to mom.
Continue reading: My Mother Likes Women Review
The unfortunate woman is 24-year-old Ann (the always appealing Sarah Polley), a struggling wife and mother who learns that a raging cancer will kill her in just a few months. Ann's initial response is to hide the news from her mother (Deborah Harry); very matter-of-factly, she continues to follow that M.O. by telling no one, including her husband Don (Scott Speedman, grinning way too much).
Continue reading: My Life Without Me Review
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
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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What I've always enjoyed most about the films of Spanish cinema provocateur Pedro Almodóvar is...