Posts Tagged ‘Penelope Cruz’

Oh! Oh! Almodóvar!

So it’s week three of how to… “Learn Spanish in Three Months with Hugo” – the study guide, not el hombre.   It started off as a fun adventure concocted by friends and strangers. “Yes let’s learn Spanish it will expand our minds.”  Some of us were dreaming about romantic liaisons with dark and mysterious Spaniards in expansive seaside villas.  And we’ll go to San Sebastian and ask for beers in Spanish, and drag the ‘z’ in cerveTHA, sounding like drunken wasps with lisps.

But Hugo is a relentless taskmaster and the fun factor of trying to work through the demons in demonstrative pronouns, and figuring out why mesa (table) is female and árbole (tree) is male, is rapidly wearing off. 

My motto for this project being “If it ain’t fun it ain’t done… I decided to watch Spanish movies and hope that by the magical process of osmosis I will wake up one morning soon, and realise that I had been dreaming in fluent Spanish. Hola!

DVD Nouveau ( in Bree Street has a collection of foreign films that will guarantee square eyes.  For my project ‘Spanish by Osmosis’ I have latched onto director Pedro Almodóvar Caballero –for starters.   Most of his movies (there’s about 18 of them on my last count) can be found here.  I am working my way through them. I will be posting short and titillating reviews on my findings as the weeks go by. 

After watching only four films, equally disturbing and delightful patterns in the brainwaves of Mr Almodovar have emerged. 

  • In his films the fine membrane between love and lust is often violently, and remorsefully, ripped apart.
  • Things are never as simple as they seem.
  • He loves working with Penelope Crux and Javier (mucho delicioso) Bardem.  Who I believe are now an item?
  • There are secrets. And they are as ugly as it gets in the human condition.
  • Love is everything.
  • Love is nothing when consumed by jealously.
  • Jealousy maims, incapacitates and destroys everyone within a close radius to the person inflicted with the curse of the green monster.
  • The women are hot-blooded and often battle – physically.
  • Most of his characters are capable of extreme acts of violence, compassion, self-sacrifice and heinous crime. 
  • His movies are  a bit of opera meets Quentin Tarrantino meets the biography of a dirty whore who used to be a renowned  opera singer in Barcelona. Melodrama is key.
  • There is bound to be an akward and fascinating sex scene (or two if you’re lucky)
  • You just never know what is going to happen next…

Movie Review:  Broken Embraces.  Directed by Pedro Almodóvar Caballero, starring Penelope Cruz, Lluis Homar, Blanco Portillo, Angela Molino and Ruben Ochandiano.  


The druglord of South African movie reviewers, Barry Ronge, called this one of Almodóvar’s most complex films.  I still have around 14 movies to watch so we will have to go with Barry on this one for now.   Penelope Cruz is a troubled and voluptuous woman who stumbles upon a role in a film.  She is in a complex relationship with a man –he is basically her pimp – who treats her like an angel (when he is not beating her to a pulp).  He is fiercely jealous.  Cruz falls in love/lust with the director of the film (Lluis Homar). Who is also fiercely jealous – and blind.  The director likes to have sex with random strangers that help him cross the road during acts of kindness.  But he was not always blind and suddenly we are within a film within a film –showing the making of a film. It does get a little complex but the core of the film stays clear as the eye of a hurricane: emotions running rampant will destroy.  The tragedy is inevitable and tangible throughout the film, as is the honesty of achingly real love and the complexity of the human psyche.  The story is beautifully told. The cinematography fresh and delightful, at times it feels like a music video in its stylised and lyrical narrative.  Unlike the American blockbusters, we never know what is going to happen next and every other scene unfolds new and moving twists and turns as complex as our human nature can get.  But mostly it is a thoroughly engaging and entertaining piece of artistic work that will speak to lovers of Almodovar, European films, intriguing stories and Penelope Cruz.