Todo sobre mi madre (1999) from Tuna and Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)
Tuna's comments in white:
Director Almodóvar started with a character, a woman who could act, and did so in her life, but was not an actress. He then layered in an interest in the people who convince the bereaved to sign an organ donor card. From these concepts, the idea for the film was born.
Cecilia Roth works in a
hospital, teaching other workers how to counsel next of kin, and get
them to donate organs. Ironically, her son is run over and killed
trying to get an actresses autograph, and Roth is approached to donate
Roth moves to Barcelona, both to confront the actress whose rudeness caused her son's death, and also to look for his transsexual
father. Roth had once been a prostitute in Barcelona, and left when she
found she was pregnant. Once back in Barcelona, she goes to the
red-light district to begin looking for her father's son, and runs
into an old friend and colleague, Antonia San Juan, who is being
brutalized by a customer. Roth saves her, and the two renew their
friendship. Roth finally confronts the actress, and ends up working for her
for a brief time, until she stands in for the actress's girlfriend,
and is then run off by the girlfriend. Roth is also introduced to a young
nun played by Penélope Cruz, who works with streetwalkers, is due to
leave for San Salvador to replace some murdered nuns, and has a father
with advanced Alzheimer's. The nun is also three months
pregnant, and has AIDS. The film continues in this vein, and is full
of actresses, hookers, transvestites, trans-genders, and people with
It is a terrific movie, and the photography must place it in the all-time top fifty in that category, but it is clearly not a B+ by our sysrtem. It is one of those strange artistic films about quirky offbeat characters, and it is in Spanish. The correct score for English speakers is C+, which essentially means not many of you will like it, but the people who like it will love it. If you speak Spanish with native fluency, then you might consider it a B or B+ or even an A if you are a woman, because women rate it much higher than men.
To give you an idea of whether you are one of those who will love it, here is the composition of the world of Pedro Almodóvar:
Now before you rent an Almodóvar film, get your mind adjusted to that world, and don't go kvetching when it appears before you, because you will know what to expect.
I get the point of the film - that the external appearances of these offbeat characters, and their atypical situations don't change the fact that they are essentially the same people we are, except that they have to struggle harder to get there, and far harder still to be accepted once they arrive. That produces some good moments of intense drama, and Almodóvar balances the intense drama with a truly offbeat and dark sense of humor, which helps to make the stories watchable. I understand the stories, and they're OK, but I just don't "feel" them at a level that makes me want to praise this film as overwhelming genius.
Some things I enjoyed most about this film:
|If you are not familiar with Senor Gaudi, he is a turn of the century architect who rejected traditional architectual concepts in the same way that modern painters rejected traditionalism. He rejected not only the established concepts of beauty, and also the familiar geometry of building design. This is inherently bold and daring for an architect. Much more risky than for a painter, for example. I mean, if you're a painter and you reject classical allegories and traditional human figures, it's not like your painting is going to collapse on somebody's grandmother or suck small pets down the toilet. The worst that can happen is that people don't like it and/or don't understand it, and you will feel like you wasted a couple months and a couple hundred dollars worth of paint. But when you're an architect and you reject traditional forms, there's always the outside chance that your whole damned building will fall down on top of the Pope, or that nobody will rent your apartments and you will lose the years you invested in creating it. Worse still, the guys who invested in the apartment building will lose every cent, and may be named Vito, and may retain some of their colleagues to send you to a resort where you will be encouraged to take swimming lessons with Luca Brasi.|
So you have to give Gaudi a big tip of the hat for creating designs which are not only unique and daring, but functional as well. Regular people actually live in buildings that he designed, and the entire modern city bears a distinct flavor that he created. And if you can't afford a ticket to Barcelona, this movie is an inexpensive alternative.
This page will give you a quick look at some of Gaudi's creations. It isn't comprehensive, but you'll get the idea.
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