For Reel

Julieta (2016)
April 23, 2017, 3:05 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Pedro Almodóvar
4 Stars
JulietaOn the surface, Pedro Almodóvar and Alice Munro seem to have little in common other than the prevalence of strong female characters in their body of work. It is true that, while Munro focuses on more subtle longings and is generally a more unassuming storyteller, Almodóvar’s flamboyance is relevant to both his dealings with emotions and the production design—if his characters are not immune to restraint, he takes a particular delight in their grandiose expressions. Each artist, however, is determined by the sense of empathy that they have for their characters and that the characters have for each other, as well as how that empathy can be discovered as a result of changing circumstances over time—see, for example, a scene in which a young Julieta regrets abandoning a train passenger she feels threatened by due to the way his story later unfolds. Almodóvar is seduced by the mystery of the encounter and the way it causes a mania in Julieta, just as Munro has a tendency to dramatize certain moments that reverberate throughout our lives. The most touching moment in Julieta occurs near the end of the film in which one character finds a new understanding for someone they previously resented, and it is in those moments where the film is at its most beautiful—that is, empathy grows over time, and as we accumulate knowledge and life experience, it becomes easier to forgive.

I’m So Excited! (2013)
March 6, 2014, 2:43 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Pedro Almodóvar
3.5 Stars
I'm So Excited!Almodóvar’s follow-up to his macabre masterpiece The Skin I Live In is–what else?–a disaster movie sex farce. Such flamboyance is more expected of the Spanish auteur than the disturbing psychosexual thriller that preceded it, however the film registers as a minor palette cleanser before he hopefully returns to headier material. Set almost entirely on a plane, I’m So Excited! illustrates the hijinks that ensue on Peninsula Flight 2549 (flying from Madrid to Mexico City) when those aboard learn the grim reality that a technical malfunction prohibits their ability to land. Almodóvar takes considerable interest in class politics–there are a handful of mentions of banking scandals, and all of economy class is drugged during the venture, limiting the awake passengers to the six in business class–however the debauchery mostly serves to argue for the essential value of hedonism in living a fulfilling life (with the doomed plane serving as a metaphor for mortality). The colorful set and costumes are well-accomplished, with the cheeriness serving as a nice contrast to the dire circumstances and the increasing sense of claustrophobia. A cabaret rendition of the titular Pointer Sisters song is the highlight.