Almodovar. Almodovar has produced a masterpiece and a deep filmography (12 archiveable films and counting) that are all unmistakably Almodovarian’. That’s pretty rare in contemporary cinema where you can have 9th or 10th film from an auteur that even if it isn’t a great film, it’s a delightful unique auteur-driven experience that could only be done by that director (like Cronenberg’s Existenz or Mann’s Miami Vice) because it is so infused with that artist’s authorship. The weakness here is I only have 1 film in the top 500 of all-time but I’m pretty far apart from the consensus of All About My Mother so perhaps I’m missing something and a revisit there will change that.

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rich decor here from All About My Mother– the hair color, the wallpaper, the plates…

Best film: Talk To Her. It’s a strange and layered masterpiece that is both his most beautiful film and most sharply written (and he’s been one of the best writers in cinema of the past 20-30 years).

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just one of the magnificent scenes in Talk To Her

total archiveable films: 12

top 100 films:  0

top 500 films: 1 (Talk To Her)

top 100 films of the decade:  4 (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Law of Desire, Talk To Her, Broken Embraces)

an image and mise-en-scene that makes me think I need to revisit All About My Mother as soon as possible even if it feels a bit of a tread on Kieslowski’s Red

most overrated:  All About My Mother is #306 all-time on the TSPDT consensus list and it is not in my top 500. I haven’t seen it in ages but every time I start listing my top films of 1999 (one hell of a year) it takes a long time to get to this one.  

most underrated:   Broken Embraces. This one is a head-scratcher for me. It isn’t in the top 1000 on TSPDT…. of the 21st century. That’s pretty bad… Holy hell. We’re worlds apart as I have it in the top 100 of the 2000’s decade.

I’ve long praised the ceiling-as-mise-en-scene in Welles, Soderbergh– but this is the rare reverse of that- Tarkovsky did it often– floor as mise-en-scene– this is Broken Embraces

gem I want to spotlight:  Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is the full arrival of Almodovar and it’s part farce, part melodrama, with enough homages to Preston Sturges and Douglas Sirk yet, like say, Tarantino, becomes Almodovar’s his own voice and a fully realized visual touch with an awesome display of primary color palette.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown — gobsmackingly beautiful shot– colors, blocking of the objects, the shapes of the furniture

stylistic innovations/traits:  Almodovar walks right up to the line of just completely over-the-top melodrama with a magnificent lively flair. Color (the primary colors specifically) are important to Almodovar’s oeuvre. I’d compare him to Fassbinder, Todd Haynes (all in the lineage of Douglas Sirk) but there’s an element of Hitchcock (mostly to his narratives) that isn’t there with Haynes or Fassbinder. He’s also known for working with actresses (Penelope Cruz amongst them) and creating great roles and voices for women. Fast-paced dialogue and a sharp comedic talent will harken back to the screwball era in the 30’s. Like all auteurs that create a world of their own (QT, Wes, Lynch, Malick, Leone, Hitchcock) his films are easily parodied and the worst of his work comes close to self-parody but at his best he’s one of cinema’s truly great artists and even not at his best his work is a refreshing voice that stands on its own.

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from Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown — a shot virtually recreated in …
Talk To Her

top 10

  1. Talk to Her
  2. Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
  3. Broken Embraces
  4. All About My Mother
  5. Law of Desire
  6. Bad Education
  7. Volver
  8. Live Flesh
  9. The Flower of My Secret
  10. The Skin I Live In

By year and grades

1986- Matador R
1987- The Law of Desire HR
1988- Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
1995- The Flower of My Secret R
1997- Live Flesh R
1999- All About My Mother
2002- Talk To Her MP
2004- Bad Education
2006- Volver R
2009- Broken Embraces HR
2011- The Skin I Live In R
2016- Julieta R

*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film

MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film

HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film

R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives