About My Mother/B+,B+
Pedro Almodovar is in many ways a throwback to the directors of
the 1930s and 1940s. The Spanish director is one part Douglas
Sirk (Written on the Wind), two parts Clarence Brown (Anna
Karenina, The Rains Came), with a little bit of William
Wyler (Wuthering Heights, The Letter), all mixed together in a John Waters
(Pink Flamingos, Pecker) cocktail shaker.
Almodovar is hopelessly romantic, in a skewed framework. The
characters that people his films are often outrageous and their
behavior often crosses the borders of tastelessness. Yet,
through it all, the writer/director maintains a sense of humor
about his work, and boy, does he ever know how to make a movie
a little Streetcar along the way. ©Columbia
My Mother is in many ways his most accessible film. The film
screams out melodrama, and yes, there are the outrageous
characters, but they act more tamely in this latest from
writer/director Almodovar. Coincidence plays plays fast and
loose with the characters and every action calls for a reaction.
Manuela, a single mother, has her life come crashing down upon
her. She returns to her roots and another life, tracks down an
actress that has affected her life, practically adopts a
pregnant nun, and rekindles her friendship with a transsexual
streetwalker. Almodovar weaves magic fromt he ins and outs of
his characters' lives. There are nods to films of yesteryear
that Almodovar gleefully acknowledges, most notably All About
Almodovar has assembled fine actors for
his melodrama. Cecilia Roth captures the screen and her audience
in the role Manuela. Roth has the strength of the Hollywood
classic hard lady, displaying a vital ability to survive.
Almodovar regular Marisa Paredes plays actress Huma Rojo, a
grand lady of the stage who is having an affair with a younger
actress. Antonia San Juan plays Agrado, a typical Eve Arden
1940s role, a wisecracking sidekick with a warm heart and caustic style. Only
San Juan is playing a transsexual. Penelope Cruz is the nun who
has a very special relationship with Manuela.
The cinematography is especially lush,
with bright colors emphasizing the garish nature of characters
and situations. The setting of Madrid and Barcelona are captured
with authority and Almodovar keeps everything moving at hectic
pace, lacing the melodrama with character driven comedy. All
About My Mother received the Academy Award as Best Foreign
Film of 1999.
All About My Mother has been
made into an outstanding DVD, the rich textures of the film
elements transfering beautifully to video. Colors stand out
cleanly with no edge bleeding. This DVD has plenty of pizzazz to
match the glitzy film treatment. Contrast range is dynamic,
blacks lush with night scenes sparkling. The Alberto Inglesias
score is beautifully rendered on the Dolby Digital 5:1 mix.
Yellow English subtitles are easy to read and appear
partially on the image and the letterboxed border. Included on
the DVD is a short "making of" documentary and ant
entertaining Pedro Almodovar interview interspersed with scenes
from the film.
Archive has articles ranging from Akira
Kurosawa to Blonde
Bimbos and John
on the Ritz
Fred Astaire and Cyd
bring Silk Stockings to life, a remake of Ninotchka,
one of many films successfully turned into musicals by the Hollywood
dream factory. Read all about remakes into musicals by clicking on
the divine dancers.
Musical Posters are
featured at Films on Disc this month. Take a look at the merry images
of America's gift to the movies.
The Imaging Science Foundation promotes proper standards in
home theater viewing. ISF trained technicians offer monitor
calibration services to consumers. The difference in a
properly calibrated monitor can be astounding. Click on the
image to find an ISF member near you.
DVD Answer Man is a new site devoted to spreading
the DVD gospel. Answers to questions, reviews, links and
The Cinema Laser
A home grown magazine for laserphiles that has been publishing for a
number of years and has embraced DVD in a big way. Lots of helpful