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Julia's Eyes [Los Ojos de Julia] Review


Extraordinary
It's rare to find a horror movie as bracingly original as this, so see it quickly before the requisite watered-down American remake. Not only is it genuinely unsettling, but it's full of clever nods to horror masterpieces.

When her twin commits suicide, Julia (Rueda) finds the official story hard to believe. Her husband (Homar) goes along with her secret investigation, mainly because she's suffering from the same degenerative eyesight that left her sister blind. But Julia sees conspiracies and danger everywhere, all of which is dismissed by the local cop (Orella). Then more people start dying, and Julia continues to have trouble accepting the police's version of events. She finds some comfort from her doctor (Grao) and a hospital aide (Derqui). But the truth is worse than she imagined.

Continue reading: Julia's Eyes [Los Ojos de Julia] Review

Broken Embraces [los Abrazos Rotos] Review


Excellent
Perhaps not as dazzling as Almodovar's masterpieces, this film is still an involving and sleekly well-made melodrama touching on his usual themes of romance, death and parentage. It also has some terrific noir touches as it dips into ambition and revenge.

Mateo (Homar) is a filmmaker who, after going blind, has locked himself in his Madrid flat writing scripts with Diego (Novas), son of his loyal agent (Portillo). Then he hears of the death of wealthy financier Ernesto (Gomez), who 14 years earlier had bankrolled a film project starring his trophy mistress Lena (Cruz), who was desperate to get out of the relationship. Back then, as Lena and Mateo started spending rather too much time together, Ernesto sent his teen son (Ochandiano) to follow them, ostensibly to film a making-of doc.

Continue reading: Broken Embraces [los Abrazos Rotos] 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

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


OK

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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