Sunday, May 16, 2010

Los Abrazos Rotos (2009)

I have to admit something. I've not been much of fan of Spanish 'stuff.' It goes back to high school and signing up for foreign language classes. I thought I was being erudite taking Latin and French. I could never understand why someone would want to learn Spanish-- it just wasn't as pretty as the lovely French words tripping off my tongue in the classroom next door. While I was studying for a Bachelor's degree in French I gawked at La Sagrada Família, the monstrous work by Antonio Gaudi that television commentators were raving about during the Barcelona Olympics. "This is no Notre Dame," I thought to myself. But eventually I came around and it was because of Pedro Almodóvar, Academy Award winning writer of Hable Con Ella (Talk to Her) and director of Volver and Todo Sobre Mi Madre (All About My Mother).

Born in Calzada de Calatrava, Spain, Almodóvar moved to Madrid at the age of 16 to learn the art of filmmaking. Thank goodness for youthful desires! Almodóvar's most recent film, available on DVD, is Los Abrazos Rotos (Broken Embraces). Not exactly a meta-film, Broken Embraces features the classic psychologically and sexually taught narrative that has become an Almodóvar standard. Luminous acting performances by Penélope Cruz and Lluís Homar make Broken Embraces one of my favorites by Almodóvar. (Avert your eyes if you don't want a spoiler!) One scene in particular has a Baudrillardian hyper-realism akin to Christopher Nolan's Memento , as Cruz's Lena confesses her affair with Mateo as her then lover Ernesto watches her confessing the same information on film. For this cinephile, Almodóvar's Broken Embraces reminds me why film has been described as the ultimate art.

For a complete list of Almodóvar's work, including several collaborations with Cruz check out titles available from Netflix. If you've never been a fan of Penélope Cruz do yourself a favor and see her work in Volver and Broken Embraces-- you'll be a fan after.

1 Response
  1. Zac Says:

    Oh, now, La Sagrada Familia just oozes 'gaudiness,' in all sorts of amazing ways. Not just those few lonesome gargoyles of Notre Dame, or those one rosy window--this cathedral has critters, weird bunches of fruit and grain that seem more to celebrate Demeter than Mary, and spires that just keep leaping and leaping up to the sky...


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