Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Quick Movie Reviews: "Volver"

I need to preface this review by saying that, in experiencing Pedro Almodovar's "Volver," I saw a Spanish (Castillian)-language movie with Portuguese subtitles while thinking in English. That said, I picked up just about every last piece of the movie (save for a few jokes - humor is always the hardest thing to translate). That out of the way....

1. Does any man on the face of this planet understand women better than Almodovar? I believe the firm answer is, "absolutely not."

2. A beautiful film, Almodovar gets the most out of his actresses, and I'm particularly pleased to see Penelope Cruz turn in such a strong performance. I always had high hopes for her, but the American backlash in the wake of "Vanilla Sky" (it wasn't her fault it was a stupidly done remake and we were saturated with Tom Cruise) sort of killed her states-side career. Hopefully this will revive it.

3. This is a minor shift from Almodovar's previous work, for he's abandoned some of the interest in visual innovation, and instead simply lets his actresses act and the story tell itself, and he does not fail in this endeavor. We can all relate so easily to the characters and their plights and feelings, even when the story seems a bit odd, and for that alone, this is one of the finest films about humans and people that I've seen in a long time. If it comes to your town/city, it's an absolute must see.

4. Can we stop with this pussy-footing about foreign films in awards ceremonies, and let foreign films contend for "best movie of the year" please? It's so jingoistic and imperialist to presume that any foreign film is second fiddle to any dreck produced in the states. Hopefully, this film will break through that stupid barrier.