Today my tribute goes to Pedro Almodóvar, my favourite director and writer. The Spanish artist has the ability and talent to make sensitive stories based on human being’s traumas in masterpieces. He became one of the most influential and acclaimed filmmakers of pop culture worldwide in the contemporary era, famous for his colourful aesthetics, combined with very funny and deep themes and a particular language. Since the early 1980s, his black comedies and melodramas have layered maximalist costumes onto Pop-colored sets, populated by campy characters whose identities shift over the course of a film as frequently and dramatically as the brightly colored paint on the walls.
Pedro Almodóvar was born in a small town (Calzada de Calatrava) in the impoverished Spanish region of La Mancha. He arrived in Madrid in 1968 and survived selling used items in a flea-market. Almodóvar couldn’t study Filmmaking because he didn’t have any money to afford it. After saving some money while working for a Spanish phone company, he bought a super 8 camera and started making his own short films. The premieres of those early films had a good audience and in a few years, he became famous in the Spanish pop culture scene that led him to become famous internationally.
Check out my list of Pedro Almodóvar best movies to binge watch:
1. “All About My Mother” (Original title: Todo sobre mi madre)
Perhaps one of the director’s best-known films, “All About My Mother” is an intense drama that chronicles the ways of a woman who loses her son in a hit by a car on his 17th birthday. At the time, the boy was trying to get an autograph from a famous actress after watching a play with his mother. Tired of having to endure the weight of mourning alone, Manuela (played by the brilliant Cecilia Roth) goes from Madrid to Barcelona in search of her son’s father, transvestite Lola.
In this profound story that still sheds light on the HIV epidemic, as well as on issues such as sexual and gender identity, we find ourselves faced with grandiose characters, easy to identify. The film was released in 1999 and it won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 2000.
2. “The skin I live in” (Original title: La piel que habito)
The drama-thriller released in 2011 tell us about a brilliant plastic surgeon, played by Antonio Banderas, haunted by tragedies, who creates a type of synthetic skin that withstands any kind of damage. He uses a fragile and mysterious woman like his ‘guinea pig’. It was nominated for 1 Golden Globe. It’s just a fantastic movie!
It is a 2006 comedy-drama film, starring Penélope Cruz, Carmen Maura and Lola Dueñas. The movie follows an eccentric family of Raimunda and her sister Sole from a small village in La Mancha, who travel from Madrid to their hometown to visit the grave of their mother. A few days later, back to Madrid, the sisters have an unexpected visit of their mother who returns from the world of the deads to sort out some problems that she couldn’t resolve during her life.
4. “Bad Education” (La mala educación)
Gael García Bernal, count on us for everything! In this 2004 film, we get in touch with the story of Enrique Goded, a film director who receives a script made by a childhood friend. After this warm reunion, he decides to read the project and comes into contact with various emotions experienced in his youth, including the passion he felt for the boy, as well as issues related to religion, sex and drug use.
Gael García Bernal shines a lot in this work because in addition to being one of the protagonists, he also lends his body and his art to three other characters (including that of an actor who stars in another feature film, shot within the story. Crazy, isn’t it? The use of metalanguages, you know, is one of the hallmarks of Almodóvar’s universe). It was nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award.
5. “Talk to her” (Hable con ella)
Winner of the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in 2003, “Talk to her” has a story full of layers. Using language with a little less colour, Almodóvar delves into the stories and feelings of two men who know each other when they start caring for two women in a coma. One of them is a dancer and, precisely because it has a parallel with dance, the production counts on the participation of the renowned contemporary dancer and choreographer, Pina Bausch. The acclaimed brazilian singer Caetano Veloso shows up in the movie singing a beautiful song “Cucurrucucu Paloma”.
Adapted from three stories by Alice Munro (“Destino”, “Pronto” and “Silencio”), “Julieta” is a tender portrait of a mother who turns away from her daughter. We met the eponymous heroine in Madrid, when a chance encounter with Beatriz, a friend of her daughter Antia, brings news of her whereabouts. Consumed by guilt, sadness and the hope of reconciliation, she seeks to reestablish contact. Julieta’s hallucinatory youth flashbacks contain many references from the 1980s (powerful shoulder pads, clasp earrings), but her modern outfits are the most sophisticated: she favors old Céline and Hermès, while Beatriz is a Dior view from head to toe . The movie was released in 2016.
7.”Live Flesh” (Carne Trémula)
Pleasure and revenge are two words that well define the plot of this film released in 1997. The narrative of “Live Flesh” begins with a delivery taking place on a bus. Years later, the newborn baby is already a man who is involved in an armed robbery. Permeated by this police plot, it can be said that this is the film of Pedro Almodóvar’s career that comes closest to the Action genre. A great choice for those who like intense and even violent sequences.
8. Women on the verge of a nervous attack (Mujeres al borde de un ataque de “nervios”)
A heartbroken TV actress decides to find out why her lover abandoned her in Almodóvar’s first hit, a fast and crazy comedy that takes a shocking plot twist after another. In line with the surreal script and extravagant characters, the costumes are deliciously tacky: shiny denim jackets, colorful skirt suits and polka dot blouses combined with headbands and imposing bouffants. It is also worth keeping an eye on the jewels, which include earrings in the form of miniatures of Italian coffee pots. The movie was released in 1988.
9.”Dark habits” (Entre tinieblas)
Yolanda is a singer who has not very traditional habits, we can say. Involved with drugs, she witnesses the death of her boyfriend from an overdose and decides to distance herself from this universe by going to a convent. What she did not expect was that, even in this environment marked by religiosity and standards, the presence of perfect people is something that does not exist. Launched in 1984, this is one of the most talked about works in Almodóvar’s filmography, given his experimentalism, influenced by also Spanish director Luis Buñuel, master of surrealism.
10.”Law of Desire” (La ley del deseo)
This one is a film about how desire influences people and the paths they take in life. Launched in 1986, “ Law of Desire” dialogues with themes such as self-acceptance of homosexuality, gender transition and even incest. Deep in his reflections, this film was the first one made independently, through Almodóvar production company “El Deseo”.