• This marks Pedro Almodovar’s eighth film (six in the archives)- a very busy decade (debut in 1980).
  • Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! Also makes for five archiveable films with actor and collaborator Antonio Banderas at this point in their careers. Almodovar has a new collaborator here in Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! – Ennio Morricone. This is the only collaboration between Almodovar and Morricone (I am sure Almodovar had a bit more budget to play with due to the boost in notoriety from 1988’s Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown).
  • This is another dangerous stalker film from Almodovar- Ricky (Antonio Banderas) has an unhealthy obsession with former porn star turned actress Marina (Victoria Abril). Morricone’s score leans into Hitchcock’s Bernard Herrmann Psycho. 

Almodóvar’s flair for composition and his skill with color is on display early as the red drapes flank the lime green blinds with Banderas on the right of the screen at the 4-minute mark.

  • A bit of playful cinematic reflexivity at the 15-minute mark. There is a film set (within the film), and the set designers (again, within the film) are carefully arranging some beautiful flowerpots in the foreground while the narrative action takes place in the far background.

At the 27-minute mark Banderas is in the foreground left on the ground floor- as Abril’s character is in the background right on the upper level stairs- a great depth of photography shot.

  • Almodovar is still the enfant terrible even with the commercial success of Women on the Verge. He certainly leans into the aspects of Marina’s background working in the adult film industry- and has a sort of gratuitous bathtub scene here. I am guessing Almodovar was sort of proud of the initial “X” rating—this film along with a few others (Peter Greenaway’s The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover were big in getting the “X” changed to NC-17).

every stitch of the production design feels chosen and part of a larger strategy

  • The film was controversial- not just the sexuality—but the sadism and the sort of Stockholm syndrome aspect of it. And that part of the story does not work— Almodovar means for the audience to have some sympathy for Ricky. Ricky does like pick soft tape for her mouth (which is supposed to be both sweet and funny)—it works as a joke- but we’re meant to feel sorry for him when he gets his feelings hurt and that is just never properly set up.

A sublime frame at the 68-minute mark with the two leads from behind in the twin chairs. This is visual symmetry and color mastery on display. Almodovar would have a similarly brilliant shot in 2019’s Pain and Glory.

  • I will not share it here but there is a breathtaking ceiling on the mirror shot during a sex scene

The dazzling compositions continue to pile up—another at the 80-minute mark with the green blinds, green light in the foreground at the top of the screen—even green legs on the desk.

  • Highly Recommend- top 10 of the year quality film.