Spain, 1986, 110 min, Dir. Pedro Almodóvar, Rated R, Spanish with English subtitles
“Spain’s provocative film maker perceives in bullfighting an equation between sex and death that cuts to the heart of a culture that is at once intensely puritanical and macho.” – Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times
“Mr. Almodóvar is quickly becoming Spain’s most reputable disreputable young film maker.” – Vincent Canby, The New York Times
Diego (Nacho Martinez) is a former star bullfighter forced into early retirement after being gored by a bull. María (Assumpta Serena) is a femme fatale lawyer dressed to kill in androgynous business suits. A shared obsession with blood and murder bring the two in alliance. Enter Angel (Antonio Banderas), Diego’s bullfighting student, who is, ironically, scared of blood. He’s not much of a rapist, but does he have what it takes to be a serial killer? Mysteries, religion, and sexual desires collide in this dark comedy whose originality was celebrated with a Special Award by the National Society of Film Critics.
There’s no greater joy for a film programmer than to come across a totally original filmmaker, in complete command of his domain, whose work resembles no one else’s. Such was my elation at discovering the films of Pedro Almodóvar and programming them - for the first time in the U.S. - starting in 1984, year one of the Miami Film Festival. Today, he’s not only the most celebrated Spanish filmmaker, but one of the world’s greatest directors, period. Our series surveys ten classics made over the course of 25 years, and feature not only his famous ensemble, fondly referred to as chicos y chicas Almodóvar, but also actors like Antonio Banderas, Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem who went on to international stardom.
CGAC Director of Programming Nat Chediak was founder/director of the Miami Film Festival (1984-2001).
Program notes adapted from MoMA’s Almodóvar retrospective.