Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown Pedro Almodovar broke into the art-house mainstream with this wild, manic comedy about a gaggle of women and their various problems with men, be they married lovers, cheating husbands, fiancés, or terrorists. Almodovar's long-time leading lady, Carmen Maura, stars as an actress (famed for her laundry detergent commercial as the mother of a sloppy serial killer) who's just been dumped by her married lover. In the midst of trying to track him down for a face-to-face confrontation, she crosses paths with her lover's son (Antonio Banderas), his unbalanced wife (Julieta Serrano), and his new girlfriend (Kiti Manver). Adding more fuel to the fire is the hapless friend (Maria Barranco) who got involved with a Shiite terrorist and is now being hunted by the police. Almodovar, a master of farcical screwball comedy, manages to keep all these balls in the air in dizzy, hilarious style without once losing his momentum. Chock full of the director's over-the-top stylization, in terms of both story and sets, the film is a hilarious yet heartfelt marriage of kitsch and drama, verging on parody but never going entirely over the top. Maura is absolutely breathtaking as the unhinged lover, dispensing wise advice to others while trying to keep a semblance of sanity, and the supporting cast is quintessential Almodovar, including a brief but memorable turn by Banderas in what could have been a bland, go-nowhere role. Nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 1989. --Mark Englehart
All About My Mother After her son is killed in an accident, Manuela (Cecilia Roth) leaves Madrid for her old haunts in Barcelona. She reconnects with an old friend, a pre-op transsexual prostitute named La Agrado (Antonia San Juan), who introduces her to Rosa (Penélope Cruz), a young nun who turns out to be pregnant. Meanwhile, Manuela becomes a personal assistant for Huma Rojo (Marisa Paredes), an actress currently playing Blanche DuBois in a production of A Streetcar Named Desire. All About My Mother traces the delicate web of friendship and loss that binds these women together. The movie is dedicated to the actresses of the world, so it's not surprising that all the performances are superb. Roth in particular anchors All About My Mother with compassion and generosity. But fans of writer-director Pedro Almodóvar needn't fret--as always, Almodóvar's work undermines conventional notions of sexual identity and embraces all human possibilities with bright colors and melodramatic plotting. However, All About My Mother approaches its twists and turns with a broader emotional scope than most of Almodóvar's work; even the more extravagant aspects of the story are presented quietly, to allow the sadness of life to be as present as the irrepressible vitality of the characters. Almodóvar embraces pettiness, jealousy, and grief as much as kindness, courage, and outrageousness, and the movie is the richer for it. ----Bret Fetzer
Talk to Her
Writer-director Pedro Almodóvar makes another masterpiece with Talk to Her, his first film since the wonderful All About My Mother. Marco (Dario Grandinetti) is in love with Lydia (Rosario Flores), a female bullfighter who is gored by a bull and sent into a coma. In the hospital, Marco crosses paths with Benigno (Javier Camara), a male nurse who looks after another coma patient, a young dancer named Alicia (Leonor Watling). From Benigno's gentle attentiveness to Alicia, Marco learns to take care of Lydia... but from there, the story goes in directions that deftly manage to be sad, hopeful, funny, and creepy, sometimes at the same time. The rich human empathy of Almodóvar's recent films is passionate, heartbreaking, intoxicating--there aren't enough adjectives to praise this remarkable filmmaker, who is at the height of his powers. Talk to Her is superb, with outstanding performances from all involved. --Bret Fetzer
The Flower of My Secret
Pedro Alomodóvar made this misfired, rambling comedy about a romance novelist (Marisa Paredes) whose crumbling marriage has left her depressed and unable to work. At a low point, she writes a scathing indictment of her own books (which are penned under another name), with no one realizing critic and author are one and the same. Almodóvar ( Law of Desire) has the start of a great idea here, and for once, he's direct about his sympathy for a character. But nothing else about The Flower of My Secret is so clear. Despite its unusual allegiance to the straightforward "women's films" of the 1950s, this movie blows it by becoming needlessly complicated over extraneous junk, forcing one to grope in the dark for Almodóvar's point. -- Tom Keogh
Writer/director Pedro Almodóvar's dark, sexy Hitchcock homage is his best work since his Oscar-winning All About My Mother, and deepened by a sun-dappled sadness. Handsome, enigmatic Ángel (Gael García Bernal) arrives at the Spanish movie offices of director Enrique Goded (Fele Martinez) and happily proclaims that he's actually Enrique's long-lost school chum Ignacio--an announcement that is both less than convincing and more than it seems. A novice actor, Ángel pitches a semi-autobiographical screenplay in which he's determined to star, a revenge-laden reflection of the doomed love he and Enrique shared as boys before a pedophile priest cruelly intervened. The script, and the lost days it recalls, carefully unfurls into a series of brooding movies-within-movies and memories-inside-memories, which allow the sensual, multiple-role-playing Bernal to give the performance of his young career--among other things, he makes a stunningly convincing drag queen--and Almodóvar the opportunity to movingly suggest that people will pay any price to ensure that their stories are told. -- Steve Wiecking
Spanish for "Coming Back," Volver is a return to the all-female format of All About My Mother. Unlike Pedro Almodóvar's previous two pictures, the story revolves around a group of women in Madrid and his native La Mancha. (The cast received a collective best actress award at Cannes.) Raimunda (a zaftig Penélope Cruz) is the engine powering this heartfelt, yet humorous vehicle. When husband Paco (Antonio de la Torre) is murdered, Raimunda makes like Mildred Pierce to deflect attention away from daughter Paula (Yohana Cobo). After telling everyone the lout has left, she struggles to conceal his body. The other women in her life all have secrets of their own. Her sister, Sole (Lola Dueñas), for instance, has taken in their mother, Irene (a sprightly Carmen Maura). Since Irene perished in a fire, is this person a ghost or simply a woman who looks like her? Then there's their childhood friend, Agustina (Blanca Portillo), who is desperate to find out why her mother disappeared after the blaze. Was she responsible? Almodóvar deftly blends the ghost story with the murder mystery in his tribute to the Italian neo-realist films of the 1950s. The resilient Raimunda is a throwback to the earthy heroines of Sophia Loren and Anna Magnani. The latter appears in Luchino Visconti's Bellissima, which shows up on Sole's television one night (thus confirming the link). If Almodóvars 16th feature lacks the emotional punch of the more audacious Talk to Her, it's less heavy-handed than Bad Education and Cruz is a revelation. --Kathleen C. FennessyMore Stills from Pedro Almodovar Classics Collection(click for larger image)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Starting with films from the late 80s, Almodovar uses colorful imagery and melodramatic acting to create some very personal films about love, desire and sex. Often done in an over-the-top, almost soap opera style, these films are instantly recognizable due to Almodovar's distinctive visual flair. All three films from the 80s showcase a young Banderas. "Matador" is a sly black comedy featuring an ex-bullfighter who ties death and killing with sexual excitement. "Law of Desire" is a seriocomic look at sexual desire and obsession that crosses various gender lines.Read more ›
I'm most excited about this set due to the inclusion of 'Law of Desire', which I have never seen and have not been able to find a copy of locally.
Pedro's films are beautiful, messy, sad, hilarious and just about any other adjective you can think of.
Those who have seen his films will no doubt add this to their collection and understand my love of anything Pedro.
Those movie lovers who have not seen some or all of his work, will most definately want to add this set to their collection and I hope that they will introduce new fans to Pedro Almodovar's brilliant work!
The remastered version of "Women on the Verge" doesn't feel like a big upgrade. "All My Mother's" makeover is more elegant, with fine flesh tones. "Talk to Her," "Bad Education," and "Flower" appear to be straight port-overs from the single discs already available here. In general, audio is uneven but good. Subtitles take some liberties. Unfortunately, the early '90s films "Tie Me Up!" and "Kika" aren't part of the deal. Antonio Banderas shows up in three films; Penelope Cruz is in two, but only at length in "All About My Mother." Watching these films more or less back to back is quite the rewarding experience -- you'll laugh, cry and spend a lot of time trying to figure out if you're watching a man or woman. Viva Pedro! indeed.
Your mileage may vary, but I rank these films like this:
1. All About My Mother
2. Women on the Verge
4. Talk to Her
5. Law of Desire
6. Bad Education
7. Flower of My Secret
8. Live Flesh
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The movies themselves are fantastic. Melodramatic certainlyPublished 5 months ago by Jarrod Burroughs