Thursday, December 15, 2011

All About My Mother (1999)

All About My Mother (1999)

Manuela is a single mom and nurse who deals with organ donation, who finds herself on the opposite side of the desk when she witnesses the death of her only son.  She travels home to Barcelona to tell the father of her child (who never knew about his son and vice versa) but becomes involved in the lives of a nun (Penelope Cruz) and the actress who played a special role in the death of Manuela's son.

All About My Mother won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film and it really is a good film, though not one of my Almodovar favorites, perhaps because it was a little more straightforward than most.  (If you can really call any Almodovar film straightforward.)  There were a lot of references to the Bette Davis film All About Eve (hence the film's title) and the plot definitely had similar themes.  Once again, Almodovar casts a strong female lead and brings her to hell and back, and Cecilia Roth (Manuela) was really great.  All About My Mother was very female-centric (kind of like Fried Green Tomatoes, only good, and with transvestites) without being sappy or maudlin.  I also especially liked the character of Agrado, the transvestite hooker who is sassy, but has a huge nurturing side.

All About My Mother wasn't without its faults, but I think that at this point, things that I can find fault with an Almodovar film are things that people wouldn't expect out of another filmmaker.  I was expecting a little more edginess and controversy (though I suspect my sense of outrage is set at a higher threshold since the film boasts a pregnant nun, and I didn't bat an eyelash) but "had to settle" for a good, simple story. 

All About My Mother: 3.5/5 Stars


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bad Education (2004)

Bad Education (2004)

Bad Education is one of those rare NC-17 rated films that I really don't get why it's rated that way.  On the surface, the film is about the adult lives of a couple of boys who were molested by a priest at their Catholic school during the Franco era.  Bad Education actually goes from a film about the after effects of molestation to a love story and into a whole 'nother direction of drama, and it's fantastic.  Almodovar is so great at throwing a twist into his films that isn't all "hey look at THIS!" like Shyamalan; it's subtle, intelligent, and though not always shocking, it's going to be something that profoundly affects the characters and the remainder of the story.  I love that about Almodovar - I think he's one of the most underrated (or underexposed due to being from a foreign market) writer-directors. 

This is actually the first film I've seen Gael Garcia Bernal in (I've had a few of his films on my "to watch list" for a couple of years now) and he was really great, in what was an extremely complex and challenging role, especially considering how young he was when he did it.  It was also really gutsy, considering the NC-17 rating was most certainly because of a couple scenes of gay sex (that most certainly did not merit that rating, trust me) that are normally going to be controversial, but especially so in "macho" Spain. 

Another awesome Almodovar film.  I'm so conflicted right now because I of course am excited about continuing, but then I look at his filmography and it's not that long so it won't take long to get through it.  Luckily, he's one of those directors that seems to make a film every year and a half or so, so there will be plenty to look forward to.

Bad Education: 4 out of 5


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Live Flesh (1997)

Live Flesh (1997)

Live Flesh is a tale of adultery, betrayal and obsession that somehow becomes a love story.  Victor (Liberto Rabal) is a young man who has a one night stand with Elena (Francesca Neri), a junkie.  Though she clearly wants nothing to do with him, he pursues her until an argument turns tragic after David (Javier Bardem) is injured in a shooting while answering a distress call at Elena's home.  Victor is convicted of shooting David and, after serving four years in prison, discovers that David, who can no longer walk, is a famous paraplegic basketball player married to none other than Elena. 

Almodovar's films can be really out there, but sometimes they are fairly straightforward.  Live Flesh is one of those films; it's like a colorful film noir.  Like most Almodovar films, Live Flesh has a twist that alters the course of the plot, and like all of his twists, it's brilliant without being showy. 

I really enjoyed Live Flesh.  It wasn't splashy, but it had a great story and compelling characters.  I tend to lean toward the more fantastic and bizarre Almodovar films, but Live Flesh was really fulfilling.  Out of the Almodovar films I've seen, I can compare it best to Broken Embraces, which is another wonderful film.  It was also kind of fun to see a youngish Javier Bardem, and watch for Penelope Cruz in a small but pivotal role. 

Live Flesh: 3.5/5



I'm only two films into my Almodovar project and I'm just loving it.  He's so fantastically delicious.  All of his films are distinctly "him" but are not alike, which is a rare and challenging quality to have.  Just wanted to share before I jumped into a couple of quick reviews.  Viva Almodovar!


Sunday, December 4, 2011

#2 Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

I was actually really excited to watch this movie. I had just gotten home from having a really nice weekend and I'm not feeling real great so I was very much looking forward to just sitting down and watching a movie that would be fun, and entertaining and I wouldn't have to think about very much. That's exactly what this movie provided for me. It was very entertaining and yet very dry throughout much of the movie, as is most if not all of Wes Anderson's movies. I love Bill Murray in this movie and it made me even more excited to get Rushmore from the library tomorrow to finish off my Wes Anderson assignment. But back to this current movie. As I was watching this movie I kept finding myself smile at the very subtle oddities and awkward images that would be a very small portion of an entire shot. I guess I really don't have much else to add to this. I would give it a solid 4/5. I do look forward to finishing to this project though.


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

#1 Fantastic Mr. Fox

Well this is my first movie I am officially blogging about. I tried to watch this movie 3 different times and due to technical difficulties (once the disc was scratched and once my XBOX 360 wouldn't read it). I am really glad that not only did I stick with it and find a clean copy was sent to me by Netflix. I loved this movie. Shelly wrote on Facebook or maybe on this blog questioning why this movie isn't in the top 250. I totally agree with her. I only needed about 3 min to get over the animation that normally would have driven me crazy but with this movie it just worked. I am already a fan of Wes Anderson films just based on the 3 I had already seen. I still have 2 more to go though. The characters were lovable, the story was cute and sophisticated all at the same time. There is nothing about this movie I didn't like. Even the soundtrack was entertaining to me.

I give this movie 4 out of 5. I can't wait to keep going with Wes Anderson movies. I currently have Life Aquatic on my entertainment center and I have Rushmore coming in the mail, if it's not already here.

More to come!

Matt and Lebowski


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Current Director: Pedro Almodovar

Current Director Project: Pedro Almodovar

Almodovar's Filmography
(Only includes completed/released/available feature films)

The Skin I Live In (2011) Soon to be released theatrically
Broken Embraces (2009)
Volver (2006)
Bad Education (2004)
Talk to Her (2002)
All About My Mother (1999)
Live Flesh (1997)
The Flower of My Secret (1995)
High Heels (1991)
Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1990)
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988)
Law of Desire (1987)
Matador (1986)
What Have I Done to Deserve This? (1984)
Dark Habits (1983)

The next director is my pick, and it's Oscar-winning Spanish director, Pedro Almodovar.  When I was devouring all things film in high school in preparation for going to film school, I really began to dig deep into independent films, which weren't all that easy to find in Waukesha, WI in the 80's and 90's.  (No Netflix yet!) One of the few directors I could find was Almodovar, and I became a big fan.  Again, like Anderson, despite the fact that I was a fan, I still didn't see a lot of his films so I am really looking forward to chewing on this project. 

Almodovar films Shelly needs to see: The Skin I Live In, Bad Education, All About My Mother, Live Flesh, The Flower of My Secret, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Law of Desire, Matador, What Have I Done to Deserve This? and Dark Habits.

Almodovar films Matt needs to see: The Skin I Live In, Broken Embraces, Volver, Bad Education, Talk to Her, All About My Mother, Live Flesh, The Flower of My Secret, High Heels, Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Law of Desire, Matador, What Have I Done to Deserve This? and Dark Habits.