Directors’ Weekend: The 10 Best Pedro Almodóvar Films

No Matador? Law of Desire? High Heels? Well, I’m just one man, and as a friend of mine said to me earlier, those films are likely not seen by as many folk. That ought to change. Anyway, thank you all for voting for the films of Pedro Almodóvar for the Directors Weekend – here are the results:

images-w140010) Los abrazos rotos / Broken Embraces (2009)

One of the least spoken about Almodóvar movies of his recent batch, but this is a real heavyweight as far as life taking its toll goes. Moving back and forth 14 years two sets of characters are linked by a screenwriter, whose life turns out very different in the latter part. The Spanish filmmaker’s color palette is still prevalent here, but crams his tale with punchy high drama and the trademark life bruises. – – – Robin Write

1d0cdc60acd45f484af7f775a1bb967a9) Carne trémula / Live Flesh (1997)

Another impact of time tale from Almodóvar, as the accidental collision of very different lives almost ends in tragedy, but the repercussions haunt and taunt these characters years later. Almodóvar is slick here, crafting his usual elegance and empowerment with the drama, channeling what feels like a crime caper to start with, soon becomes a mind-driven obsession and kind of sexual, self-gratifying revenge of sorts. – – – Robin Write

BadEducation8) La mala educación / Bad Education (2004)

Pedro Almodóvar, the ever subversive and confronting filmmaker returns to the darker themes involving sex, murder and manipulation with added importance on cinema and ‘acting’. The plot rejoices in its melding and twisting of cinematic conventions, gleefully telling, showing and alluding to tales within tales, stories within stories, films within films. Basically a story of two men meeting after years, who share a childhood history involving sexual abuse from a priest. Gael García Bernal stuns, not just in the drag but overall. The Hitchcockian playfulness in the mystery and identity of characters provides for a marvelous cinematic experience. – – – Asif Khan

rsz_julieta_1sheet_hr17) Julieta (2016)

Almodovar delves into the mind’s design in Julieta, which sees the flamboyant Spaniard in a more restrained mood than usual. It’s a fine move to make, since Almodovar has no intention of shunning those qualities that define his style and sensibilities; laid out calmly and quietly, Julieta offers the viewer an excellent opportunity to absorb his methods and assess their significance. Bold strokes for a bold narrative, of course, as Almodovar indulges in a typically ripe melodrama; the synergy of style and content doesn’t overpower the subtler thematic and emotional concerns, however. These are used in direct conjunction with one another, as Almodovar uses the volume of his technical devices to allude to the oscillating mental states of his characters. In such an emotionally knotty story, this may be a predictable strategy, but it’s also a successful one, and it permits an otherwise harrowing film, surely susceptible to maudlin despair, to be fun! Julieta further confirms that few filmmakers today understand the design of a woman’s mind better than Pedro, and it’s a modest, but most welcome, return to delving inside them. – – – Paddy Mulholland

TSILI-Concept-16) La piel que habito / The Skin I Live In (2011)

As close to horror as Almodóvar has perhaps got, a grueling, genuinely daunting story, with a real sense of the Ex Machina new world creation mayhem. This was a few years prior to Alex Garland’s gem, and carries with it the weight of humanity that Almodóvar writes and executes with constant, affecting poise. Sinister, surreal, and pretty superb in parts, The Skin I Live In is an experience to savor and to fear in equal measures.  – – – Robin Write

8cd74c95677228e8975edbe774178e45--almodovar-film-almodovar-poster5) Volver (2006)

One of the great ensembles of any decade, including an Oscar nominated Penelope Cruz, these vibrant, emotion-soaked women encounter all manner of menaces, including an impulsive murder and what appears to be a comforting haunting from, that’s right, a mother. Wonderful writing and directing once again from the Spanish master, his cast of familiar acting forces are immaculate in all their dominance and suffering. Volver looks stunning too, beautifully designed in all of its craft corners. – – – Robin Write

ATAME! - Argentinean Poster4) Átame! / Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1990)

Don’t fall for the one that keeps you tied up and captive is not really the moral of this early Almodóvar favorite. Regular Antonio Banderas mixes it up, playing a nut-job who carries an evident amount of vulnerability. is captive vixen, a devastatingly good Victoria Abril, is also in for an emotional and personal journey. The heart wants what it wants, and Almodóvar’s long way around touching on this mere notion is as mouth-watering and compelling as any of his works. – – – Robin Write

All_about_my_mother3) Todo sobre mi madre / All About My Mother (1999)

The film that heralded the confirmation of Almodóvar as a legitimate auteur ranking among the most important in contemporary cinema, a status which he has since exploited for all its potential, All About My Mother is a rare example of a director simultaneously at their artistic peak and at peak popularity. It’s a big-hearted melodrama informed by various tragedies afforded heftier emotional import than usual, Almodóvar reigning in his trademark charming facetiousness (though not wholly) to engage fully in one of his most dramatic storylines. Cecilia Roth is magnificent as the grieving mother at its centre, calibrating perfectly the proper tone with which to approach the material, even as Almodóvar’s narrative pushes and pulls her from one remarkable scenario to another, and another. All About My Mother is a most powerful film, less Spanish soap opera than it is, simply, an opera without singing – vividly emotional, unforgettable, the apex of at least two careers. – – – Paddy Mulholland

7769baa94096edc39e8db305caf53f82--nervous-breakdown-the-verge2) Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios / Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988)

Am I allowed to mention a wondrous, whimsical cast of women again? Possibly Almodóvar’s most renowned film, the title and vibrant cast of characters suggest and invest you in a rich, genuinely funny romp. The screenplay is so twisted and turbulent, adding depths of human relationships and decisions, serious stuff, while still making this dare I say fun, without ever becoming silly or trivial. Credit to Almodóvar and his terrific acting ensemble, as the majority of the action takes places all in one dynamic apartment setting. – – – Robin Write

2e1698f43f55f03525fdf78f112667831) Hable con ella / Talk to Her (2002)

Often described as Almodóvar’s opus, and that is considering a filmography that rivals no other. Talk to Her brings many of his essential ingredients to the screen, solidifies the melodrama, amps up the core, raw emotions (of men this time around), as well as handling some truly painful themes – near-death, phobias, communication barriers, sexuality, personal intrusions, the melancholic beauty of the art form etc etc. Parallel stories of women in comas and the men that tend to them and their affections, while developing a strong, open friendship with each-other. One of many masterpieces from Almodóvar, and well worth its place at the top of the pile.  – – –Robin Write

How do you rank the films of Pedro Almodóvar? Comment below.

 

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