Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Pedro Almodovar back in a big way

In typical Hollywood hyperbole, about a year ago Sony Pictures Classics announced that 2006 would be the "year of Almodovar." While that probably won't happen, what will should be a blast.

Almodovar's upcoming movie, "Volver," due for a June release in America, will very likely be added to the competition roster for the Cannes Film Festival.

While his recent movies have been more serious and, it must be said, very gay, this looks like a return to the form of his earlier "female comedies" such as "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown." I can't wait.

It will also bring back two of Almodovar's best leading ladies, the always stunning Penelope Cruz and his best discovery, comic genius Carmen Maura.

Set in Madrid's working class neighborhoods, the movie is described by SPC as the story of "three generations of women who survive wind, fire and even death, thanks to audacity, goodness and a limitless vitality." The film will be a "meeting of 'Mildred Pierce' (Michael Curtiz) and 'Arsenic and Old Lace' (Frank Capra), combined with the surrealistic naturalism of Almodovar's fourth film, '¿QuĂ© he hecho yo para merecer esto!!' (What Have I Done to Deserve This?)."

Not one word of this is bad news. When he wants to be, Almodovar can be a very funny guy, and for a very gay guy he knows a lot about women and how to write and direct for them. While I enjoyed "Bad Education," a return to comedies like "Women on the Verge" will be welcome.

And it just keeps getting better. If you live in one of our bigger cities, you will, come April, be treated to an Almodovar retrospective, featuring new and improved prints of the following eight films: "Law of Desire," "Matador," "Women on the Verge," "Flower of My Secret," "Live Flesh," "All About My Mother," "Talk to Her" and "Bad Education." I like all of these, and absolutely adore "Matador" and "Live Flesh."

What better way could there be to spend a spring day then watching a great Almodovar film then an Atlanta Braves game? For me, there certainly aren't many.

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