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Posts Tagged ‘Pedro Almodovar’

Antonio Banderas

“PAIN & GLORY” My rating: B+

113 minutes | MPAA rating: R

The dominant aural element of Pedro Almodovar’s “Pain & Glory” is a solo oboe exuding gentle melancholy.

It’s the perfect soundtrack for one of this director’s best films, a semi-autobiographical (just how autobiographical will no doubt be debated at length) attempt to capture the limits of one man’s existence.

It’s not a busy film, nor is it particularly amusing or sensational in the ways that once made Almodovar the bad boy of Spanish cinema. “Pain and Glory” starts slowly and quietly builds in intensity until it delivers an overwhelmingly emotional experience.

Antonio Banderas,  the hunky sex object of Almodovar’s earlier efforts, stars as Salvador, a sixtysomething filmmaker who hasn’t had a new project in years.  We first meet him underwater in a swimming pool…turns out that floating  is one of the few things that relieves his physical and spiritual maladies.

In an animated sequence Salvador outlines his various infirmities, which range from fused vertebrae to migraines, digestive issues, outbreaks of tendonitis and, naturally enough, depression. All this has left him a virtual recluse; on most days he sees only his devoted secretary/Girl Friday Mercedes (Nora Navas).

“Pain & Glory” unfolds simultaneously in the present and in the past.

In the here and now Salvador learns that one of his films — made more than 30 years earlier — has been restored and is being given a special screening at the national cinematheque.  This results in a reunion between the director and the film’s leading man, Alberto (Asier Etxeandia). The two had a falling out and haven’t spoken in three decades.

They tentatively reignite their friendship; perhaps even more important to Salvador, Alberto turns him on to heroin, the only drug he hasn’t tried to cope with his almost constant pain.

(more…)

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and as the two Julietas

Adriana Ugarte and Emma Suarez as the two Julietas

“JULIETA” My rating: B

99 minutes | MPAA rating: R

No contemporary director has examined mother/daughter relationships with the consistency or insight of Spain’s Pedro Almodovar.

At one time his latest effort, “Julieta,” would have been described as a “women’s picture.” But that superficial label fails to take into account the panache Almodovar brings to all of his projects (“Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown,” “Volver”).

Romantic loss has been his frequent topic.  “Julieta” takes a different approach, being a saga about parental loss.

Drawn from three short stories by Canadian author Alice Munro, the screenplay opens with a chance encounter on a Madrid street between the 50-something Julieta (Emma Suarez) and Bea, the childhood best friend of her daughter Antia.

Bea reports that she recently ran into her old friend at Lake Como, where Antia was shopping with her children.

Julieta is stunned. A dozen years earlier the teenage Antia vanished into a cult. Bea’s report is the first real proof that her daughter is still alive and that Julieta is now a grandmother.

Overnight everything changes. Julieta scraps plans to relocate with her boyfriend to Portugal. She moves back into the same building where she once shared a flat with Antia, desperately hoping that her daughter will come looking for her there.

And she is compelled to write down important incidents from her past.

In these elaborate flashbacks we follow the steamy relationship of the young Julieta (now played by Adriana Ugarte) with Xoan (Daniel Grao), a hunky fisherman. Their union produces Antia.

TO READ THE REST OF THIS REVIEW VISIT THE KANSAS CITY STAR WEBSITE AT http://www.kansascity.com/entertainment/movies-news-reviews/article129896079.html

| Robert W. Butler

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Antonio Banderas, Elena Anaya

“THE SKIN I LIVE IN”  My rating: B 

117 minutes |  MPAA rating: R

“The Skin I Live In” is one spectacularly sick movie.

I kinda loved it.

This heady mashup of “Frankenstein”/mad scientist horror story, sexual fantasy, revenge yarn and existential escape caper shows Spanish writer/director Pedro Almodovar indulging numerous of his well-chronicled obsessions.

The resulting film is simultaneously creepy and beautiful. Think of it as a less offensive (but equally disturbing) “Human Centipede” for the art house crowd.

Vera (Elena Anaya) is the only patient in a private clinic in the home of brilliant plastic surgeon Robert Ledgard (Almodovar stalwart Antonio Banderas).

Vera lives in a hermetically sealed, sterile-looking room. She wears a form-clinging body stocking outfitted with various flaps and zippers so that Robert can examine his handiwork. Clearly, Vera has undergone some major skin grafts.

What tragedy — accident, disease or birth defect — required such extensive surgery? (more…)

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