Friday, December 18, 2009

best films: #78: ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER (1999)

Previously rated and blogged at #62
I'll be the first to admit that I fell in love with the brilliance of writer/director Pedro Almodovar late in life (just in the last couple of years, in fact), but I have since discovered that his films are suspenseful, riveting, and mind-bogglingly sleek. And my favorite of these movies is the 1999 Academy Award winner for Best Foreign Language Film, All About My Mother. It's the work of his (of the ones I've seen of course) that most exemplifies all the things that make his movies great. No. 1: He uses female actors to their fullest capabilities. How else do you think Penelope Cruz would've finally become respected as an actress if it weren't Pedro, Volver, and this movie? Top that off with terrific noiry turns from Cecilia Roth and Marisa Paredes, it's a supremely actorly film. No. 2: The salacious plot twists and hidden identities never dip into soap opera quality. The twists and turns in his scripts never seem contrived or silly. Perhaps it's his partnership with composer Alberto Iglesias that truly enhances his work. And finally, No. 3: He makes full use of the hilarious cross-dresser. It's difficult for me to come up with a Pedro film in which a female impersonator wasn't a major plot point, and in All About My Mother, Antonia San Juan's Agrado is easily his best incarnation of one.

Standout Performance: Though the wise-cracking San Juan tends to steal most of the scenes she occupies, Roth is a force as the mother seeking out her teenage son's father (who also happens to be a cross-dresser, naturally).


Unknown said...

Ugh I know. This is so damn good.
Which of his movies have you seen so far?
I'm biased but I don't think he's ever made a bad thing.

Luke said...

Well let's see... I've seen Volver, Bad Education, All About My Mother, Talk to Her, and Broken Embraces... And I have yet to not be impressed by one of them!

Unknown said...

His newest films have been the most accessible. You should start digging into his first movies to see him in all his glory.
Few things are as fun as "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" and "Law of Desire".
I've yet to see "Broken Embraces" and I'm dying to!