Almodóvar, A Filmmaker Without Borders / Miguel Iturria Savón

Sunday, October 17, the All of Almodóvar cycle presented at the Chaplin Room of the Cinematheque Board of Cuba ended; it had from from the first Friday at 2:00 and 6:00 PM with a different film each day, and was the largest showing of the Spanish filmmaker in Havana, where he is known for its controversial approach to subject of homosexuals and the desecration of institutions like the Catholic Church and issues that are taboo in his country, though his dramas and comedies are not an argument against Spain nor the human race, but a reflexive and implausible game that invites viewers to joyful entertainment.

Pedro Almodóvar, who has created his films to suit himself is an icon of contemporary cinema, controversial and protean, loved and demonized, provocative and essential. The aesthetic development of his achievements marked a before and after in the seventh art in Spain and Latin America, where his films fascinate with their musical selections, the use of melodrama and lack of inhibition of human conflict in their stories, especially for shunned characters, recreated in all their nuances, miseries and attractions.

Almodóvar’s narrative pulse and atmosphere present embodiments of the decade of the eighties and nineties and early 2000s, surprising hundreds of moviegoers waiting for this all-encompassing show. Between old and new deliveries we enjoyed: What Have I Done to Deserve This? (1984), for which Carmen Maura won acting awards; Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down (1989), with Antonio Banderas; All About My Mother (1999), which received the Cannes Award, the FIPRESCI Award for best film and Oscar for best foreign film; Talk to Her (2002), an Oscar winner for best screenplay, music and Golden Globe for best foreign film; Bad Education (1995), nominated for the Goya and Oscar; and Broken Embraces (2009), a story dominated by fate, jealousy, betrayal and a guilt complex, very well received by critics and nominated for a Golden Globe and Goya.

Also shown were: Labyrinth of Passion (1982), Dark Habits (1983), Law of Desire and Matador (1986), High Heels (1991), Kika (1993), Live Flesh (1997), Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1998), The Flower of My Secret, Return (2006) and Pepi, Lucy, Bom and Other Girls On The Heap.

If in the satirical melodrama Dark Habits, based on a play by Jean Genet, Almodóvar satirized to the Catholic Church, in Matador, as controversial and criticized as the previous attacks on the bullfighting art, he introduced the story of a retired bullfighter who begins a series of sex crimes.

More refreshing and better artistically were High Heels and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. In High Heels, a famous singer returns to Madrid after a long stay in America and discovers that her daughter, played by Victoria Abril, is marrying her former lover, which unravels longings and passions, punctuated by music and transvestism. In Women, considered an excellent gallery of outcasts, he also used musical melodrama and comedy.

Smiles and reflections greeted: The Flower of My Secret, one of his best dramas; the multiple prize-winning All About My Mother; The Labyrinth of Passion and gay-themed dramas Law of Desire and Bad Education.

Of greater human depth and artistic excellence are both, Live Flesh, based on the novel by Ruth Rendell; Talk to Her and Return. In the first, three men who meet in the residence of a diplomat in Madrid, are marked for the rest of their lives on setting of a brawl that leaves one of them in a wheelchair and the others in jail. The second recreates a chance encounter between two strangers who harmonize elsewhere in extreme circumstances. Return is a film of women, performed by notable actresses: Penelope Cruz, Carmen Maura, Blanca Portillo, Yohana Cruz, Chus Lampreave and Cuban Maria Isabel Diaz.

And speaking of the “Almodóvar Girls” we note, finally, that the autumn enjoyment of this season of the Spanish director’s films, focused in the Chaplin Room as many females as Knights Templar of transvestism.

October 24, 2010