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Monday, January 3, 2011

Perfect Sex, Valium-laced Gazpacho and a Dose of Compassion

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown may well be the only film of Pedro Almodovar's which is good for most, not all, Christians. It is a comic and mad-cap film a la Some Like It Hot and Breakfast at Tiffany's. It is currently on Broadway for a limited run although it has a stellar cast which includes Patti Lupone and Justin Guarini, among others.

Mr. Almodovar has been given two Oscars, or Academy Awards, by the Academy of Motion Pictures for All About My Mother (best foreign film) and Talk to Her (best original screenplay in which we competed and beat original screenplays in English.)
Fox News Latino reports that the show will close tomorrow:

Producers announced Tuesday that the show will end on Jan. 2., although it was originally scheduled to close Jan. 23. The new date means the musical will end its run after 30 previews and 69 performances. It opened Nov. 4.

The show, faithful to Almodóvar's 1988 movie both in its narrative and bold, visual style, starred Patti LuPone, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Sherie Rene Scott.

Nevertheless, the good news is that the original film, on which this frothy and very humane look at women in various states of mental and romantic disarray is based on, will live on forever.

However, this film is not the only movie containing elements of "things that are lovely, praiseworthy and true" as Paul of Tarsus recommended that Christians think on things that possessed these qualities.

Here is a list I've compiled, for Almodvar fans, whether Christian or not. It should be pointed out, in the sake of fairness to Mr. Almodovar, that he is a self-avowed atheist, although he would be pleased, I would imagine, that even Christians care enough about his films to consider which ones are more suitable for their particular lifestyle.

Ultra conservative Christian: No Almodovar film is acceptable.

Moderately conservative Christian: Women on the Verge, etc., and Volver.

Mainstream Christian: All of the above and add the following: Broken Embraces, Talk to Her, The Flower of My Secret

Progressive Christian: All of the above and add the flowing: Bad Education, All about My Mother, Live Flesh, High Heels, Kika, Tie Me Up Tie Me Down, Law of Desire, What Have I Done to Deserve This, Dark Habits and Labyrinth of Passion

The above list is alomost complete. It does not include Almodovar's earliest film ". . . y Otras Chicas del Monton" and it does not, nor can it, Matador. It is, perhaps, the most objectionable film for a Christian because of its amoral view of murder and romantic suicides. I have seen it only one time and that is one time too many. Approach it at your own risk. It may harm you in unexpected ways. Unless, of course, Almodovar intended a modern morality tale, in which case the film went over my head. There are serious academics who deconstruct Almodovar's films full-time. Oh to have such a career of viewing and analyzing Pedro Almodovar's films "todo el santo dia" (all the livelong day.)

Now for the answer to the question in the Facebook teaser related to this post. I had asked "Who is Pedro Almodovar and What Is His Rare Cinematic Accomplishment?" Mr. Almodovar, in addition to having received two Academy Awards has the rarest of cinematic abilities. His ability is so seamless that you don't realize it half the time.

Starting with his early film, Labyrinth of Passion (where he makes accidental incest humorous--yes, humorous--due to a Pharmacist's bungling of a kindly father's prescription,) continuing through Kika where you have to laugh though you know you shouldn't when an escaped convict who is an ex-porn star and mentally retarded finds poor Kika relaxing in mid-afternoon and starts to rape her, though he is cavalier about it, as much as a rapist could be in such a situation, and ending with All About My Mother (his first academy  award success) and its pre-op transgender ladies of the night playing patty-cake hand games while the cars steam past them oblivious to the seriousness of the Field where they come to work nightly.

In these and other films Almodovar has the ability to cushion the shock value of what would, in other hands, be very poor taste. Through Almodovar's eyes the victims are more victors than sufferers and the seedy seems more familiar and understandable than it would appear in another director's hands. Which is to say, Almodovar finds humanity, compassion and humor where ordinarily others see only inhumanity, intolerance and sadness. This gift of his makes almost all of his movies worth watching except the one or two early films, and for some tastes, his controversial Bad Education which is based on his childhood, in part.

Whether or not you are a Christian do yourself a favor and see at least one of Pedro Almodovar's films this year. And it will be a good year.

For a Christian spin on Almodovar films please consult the all original stories of a sister blog: Christians on the Verge of a Cosmic Meltdown. Please click on the link of same title at the top of the page. The blog in question has both English and Spanish posts. Please use Google translator to get a rough idea of what the Spanish-only posts say. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed creating them

If you are curious why I am so passionate about Almodovar's films "despues te lo cuento" (I'll tell you about it later.)

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