Almodovar-A-Thon Archives - Can't Stop the Movies
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Almodovar: Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988)

Danny no longer writes for Can't Stop the Movies, and can be reached at his fantastic site

"I'm too hurt to be clear, concise and fair."

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is Almodovar's most jovial and playful film. The story of a wife desperately in search of her husband, it jumps across social structures and toys with all manner of female anxiety about the one thing that seems to escape their understanding: men.

It's not that I, personally, find men difficult to understand, but then I've never really had the need or desire to put much thought into it. The quartet of women who are trapped in Women don't have that luxury; the whims of the male sex are forcing them into dangerous situations, and it's up to them to defuse them before they lose their minds.

Having said that, Women is a light, wafer-thin comedy. Almodovar approaches this material with a maniacal sense of glee and torment, putting his women through the ringer and seeing just what they're made out of.


Almodovar: Law of Desire (1987)

Danny no longer writes for Can't Stop the Movies, and can be reached at his fantastic site

"I love you more than my own life."

The beauty of Matador which I looked over a few weeks ago is that it's funny, weird, and wonderfully morbid. Laws of Desire, while containing many of the same actors, ideas, and situations, pales in comparison because on some level it belies an awful sense of earnestness.

Here is a film about a homosexual director who can't manage his passions. Pablo (Eusebio Poncela) is so desperate to be loved in the way he wants to be loved that he will write the letters he wants to read and ask for his lovers to send them to him. He's so unceasingly convinced of his own superiority in all matters, that one beau's disinterest doesn't sway Pablo from ordering him around too. Pablo's confidence is his power, and, until that is shaken, there's nothing in the world that can stop him.

Pablo's passions are matched by that of his brother. Or, well, currently sister; she's now called Tina (Carmen Maura), and she's an aspiring actress. Aspiring being a code word, of course, for not very good.


Almodovar: Matador (1986)

Danny no longer writes for Can't Stop the Movies, and can be reached at his fantastic site

"I love you more than my own death."

There's an intricate inexorable link between sex and death. Looking at it plainly, one is an intense act of emotions and physical activity, the other is the complete opposite. It's difficult touch on both of these in cinema, since one is incredibly controversial, and the other is unabashedly morbid.

You can get playful hints of it-- Clive Owen shooting down thugs while intercoursing the hell out of Monica Bellucci in Shoot 'Em Up springs to mind-- but to get some of the more thoughtful and crazier ideas about the intermingling, you're going to have to look at some very adult films.

Luckily, that takes us back to Pedro Almodovar, whose works I've been trekking through-- incredibly slowly, I'm afraid. Almodovar has a deep fascination with both of these issues. While sex and bondage got its turn to Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! and we've dealt with hidden passion back in Dark Habits, Matador is a rich experience that delves into every ugly desire people can conjure and contrasts it to the savage brutishness of cold blooded murder.


Dark Habits (1984)

Danny no longer writes for Can't Stop the Movies, and can be reached at his fantastic site

"Man will not be saved until he realizes he is the most despicable being ever created."

Okay, let me run this story by you: a nightclub singer is wanted and on the run. To escape her pursuers, she hides out in a convent. The convent is old and dilapidated, and badly in need of new blood as a its threatened by both internal dissension and financial woes.

In the convent, she soon finds that the nuns are as bad as the outside world, and each has their own set of problems ranging from OCD to hard drug abuse. The nuns are also caught up in a blackmailing scam, as they're attempting to get an endowment out of a widow whose only daughter briefly joined the convent before running off to Africa and mating with a hunter.

It gets weirder. One of the nuns writes dirty novels. Mother Superior wants to bang the night club singer like she's been doing with a prostitute who comes around for a place to sleep every once in a while. They also have a pet tiger.

Pedro Almodovar is not a fan of simplicity.


What Have I Done to Deserve This? (1984)

Danny no longer writes for Can't Stop the Movies, and can be reached at his fantastic site

Gloria is miserable. She's a maid, a housewife, a mother, and a drug addict who must put up with one son who's a drug dealer, a live-in mother-in-law who enjoys collecting sticks, another young son who sleeps with older men in the Greek fashion, a husband who only cares if his dinner is ready or not, and a lizard named Money who mocks her every waking moment.

Did you catch the part where I mentioned she's a drug addict? Now imagine her trying to deal with that when her pills start becoming scarce.