Tuesday January 5, 2010 00:44

Movie #0001 – All About My Mother (1999)

Posted by Michael

My mother?  Let me tell you about my mother.
Directed by: Pedro Almodóvar
Starring: Cecilia Roth, Marisa Paredes, Penélope Cruz
First Viewing

Synopsis: After the tragic, unexpected death of her only son, a single mother travels to Barcelona in an attempt to find the boy’s father.

The first thing I should point out is that, although I am attempting to watch the 1001 movies in alphabetical order, this isn’t actually the first film on the list (that would be 12 Angry Men, which I hope to watch in the next few days). Due to the vagaries of getting movies from Zip.ca, sticking precisely to the alphabetical list would be far more trouble than it’s worth. Now (and here’s where things get a bit convoluted) if you go to the official 1001 Before You Die website, you’ll see that they provide a full list of the 1001 movies. The book itself also provides a list, however that one lists foreign movies twice — once by its original title, and once by its translated title in English. This means that the two lists are slightly different, depending upon whether the foreign title appears before the translated title (confused yet?). To simplify things, I’m just going to use the much more straight-forward list from the website (though that list may eventually change when a new edition of the book is released — I’ll simply have to cross that bridge when I get there).

So then, All About My Mother. This is only the third Pedro Almodóvar film that I’ve seen. I saw Talk to Her theatrically, and really enjoyed it, but for whatever reason I was never particularly motivated to seek out more films by the man. I saw Volver a couple of years ago and again, really liked it, and again, didn’t bother seeking out more Almodóvar films. I think it’s probably time that I start paying more attention to Pedro Almodóvar, as it’s fairly clear that he has some serious talent.

Almodóvar is fairly well known for telling stories with very strong female characters, and that is certainly the case here.  The film is pretty much all women, with only a few men on the absolute periphery, and a couple of transvestites thrown in for good measure.  Though there is one main character (a woman who loses her son and who travels to Barcelona to try to find his father), the movie is more of an ensemble, with some really strong performances all around. The film is pretty much plotless, but when the characters and performances are this strong, the importance of having a well-defined plot is significantly reduced.

One of the things that has really stood out for me in all of the Almodóvar films I’ve seen so far is his beautiful use of the widescreen frame. I also like Almodóvar’s bold use of colour. You have to admire a director who can consistently craft visually interesting shots; there’s something about a really well composed 2.35 frame that’s just irresistible, at least to a nerd such as myself. A director with a clear visual sense who also has a strong command of characters and storytelling is definitely something to be treasured. Almodóvar, at least based on the three films of his that I’ve seen, seems to be one of those directors.

Well, I think I’ll leave it at that. It’s nice to have such a good movie be my first; they can’t possibly all be this good, unfortunately. Also, I wouldn’t expect all the entries to be this long. Just sayin’. Up next (hopefully): 12 Angry Men.

Buy the movie at Amazon

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