My friend Vmiaeit has also been doing this meme, and his choice for this category is also my choice.
Hable con ella was the first Almodovar film that I saw and it remains my favorite. I remember leaving the theater. My head was full of thoughts, and when I had finally deconstructed them, I was left breathless over the beautiful script and film.
At its most shallow, Hable con ella can be and does have its disturbing parts. But as my friend says, “Almodovar is a wonderful director. He shows us communities of society’s outcasts, reveals them to be beautiful and relatable, while not flinching from their ugliness. He shows people in desperate situations and takes them to their surprising, yet natural conclusions. He shows us characters that are both and neither just women or men, parents or children, husbands or wives. Almodovar is truly a director who revels in complexity, but rarely pulls away from showing us true humanity.”
I would also add that Almodovar portrays gender in an equally dimensional light. He frequently endows male characters with feminine characteristics. But they still retain their masculinity. The same with female characters, and Hable con ella is a prime example of this. The two woman, Alicia and Lidia, are strong and active. One is a dancer and the other is a bullfighter. The two men are the caretakers and more passive figures in these relationships. In one of my favorite scenes, which you can see in Vmiaeit’s entry, we learn how Marco cries whenever he is witness to something beautiful. He cries, but he’s still very masculine while doing it.
I had the great pleasure of attending a lecture by Almodovar this month. In it, he said that he always knows what music, dance and art he wants to put into a movie before he starts. I find it fascinating that those element shape the stories rather than vice versa. Because of it, I think that’s why Almodovar more than any other director is also the most successful at making art part of everyday conversation. It’s true in his other movies. When you think of All About My Mother, you must think of A Streetcar Named Desire. When you think of Volver, you can’t help but think of Don Quixote and flamenco.
In Hable con ella, Almodovar puts in ballet, silent Spanish films, pomo dance, cultural Mexican songs, bullfighting and contemporary dance all in one film. The end result is amazing. Do yourself a favor and see it.
Fun Fact: After watching the clip of Caetano Veloso singing in Vmiaeit’s entry, I did a double take. Did you see the cameo by oft-cast-Almodovar actresses Cecilia Roth and Marisa Paredes?
Funner Fact: At the lecture, I learned how Almodovar retains his creative independence. He’s really in a lucky position as an artist. He gets to write, make, direct and distribute how he wants. Of course, all of this has come with hard work, but he’s stuck to his guns and kept good people around him, like his brother who is his producer.
I currently have Abre los ojos to watch on my Netflix cue. The reason I have it is because I saw Vanilla Sky many years ago, and I liked it. I know it doesn’t enjoy a positive reputation, so I’m curious to see how the original might hold up. However, I don’t remember much about why I liked Vanilla Sky. I remember that I thought the story was interesting and full of tension. The acting was good. The visuals were nice, and the music was catchy. So why didn’t people like it? I don’t know. Oh well! On to the original!
12-5-2011 Update: Abre los ojos was pretty much Vanilla Sky. I was pretty neutral over it.
One word: Zowie!
Thanks to The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, fantasy films have been catapulted into the mainstream. The imagination so vividly evoked in the pages of books can now be effectively rendered onscreen. Of course, visuals don’t just make a fantasy movie. All the other elements have to come together—actors, directors, producers, cinematographers, etc.—to make a truly great film. Despite all the fantasy films based on books that have come, I still think the Peter Jackson trilogy is the pinnacle that people are trying to reach.
Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that there are some awesome adaptations that haven’t been made. I don’t know if they ever will be made. When Barack Obama was elected president of the United States, I thought it was a good signal that the country might finally be ready for an adaptation of the Nancy Farmer book The Ear, the Eye and the Arm. It’s a scifi-fantasy adventure story that takes place in modern Zimbabwe. There’s three missing children who need to find their way home, mutant detectives, supernatural villains and African culture. It’s one of the most imaginative scifi-fantasy books that I’ve ever read. It’s success could mean the making of other Farmer adaptations, hopefully that of The House of the Scorpion.
If you haven’t read them, then do. They’re amazing!
I don’t know if it’s my favorite, but I really loved Nausicaa of the Valley of the Winds. There’s a kickass heroine, and I think it made me weepy. But I generally love Hayao Miyazaki animation.
I recommend Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, My Neighbor Totoro and Castle in the Sky.
Of course, Disney also does great animation. I’ve really been wanting to rewatch Lilo & Stitch recently. Although, Sleeping Beauty is probably my favorite. I loved it most as a child, and I rewatched it recently: It still holds up!
I also recommend The Secret of Kells. It’s just so beautifully animated. It’s about the creation of the titular book in ancient Ireland.
My favorite scene is below.
What do you mean it’s not a real documentary????
Alright, alright … . here are some documentaries that have really stood out to me:
If you haven’t heard of it, you’ve been living under a rock.
The Queen of Trees
I didn’t think a movie about a fig tree could be so gripping.
Red Gold: The Epic Story of Blood
Blood is crazy! I still quote facts from this to friends.
Well, there are a lot of great action movies out there, but the one that I’ve been coming back to the most in recent years is Captain Blood. Want a swashbucklin’ good time? Want to see a classic with tense fight scenes and awesome swordfights? Well, here you go!
If I remember my special features correctly, this was the first film that starred the legendary pairing of Olivia de Havilland and Errol Flynn. It was also the first film where Flynn crossed swords with Basil Rathbone. I believe that it was the first time Flynn ever had to swordfight whereas Rathbone was a skilled fencer. So the man had to WORK to look legitimate against Rathbone in their fencing scenes, which are amazing.
Of course, they would cross swords more famously in The Adventures of Robin Hood several years later.
Think The Princess Bride has great swordfights? You ain’t seen nothing yet!
Other action films I really like: The Matrix, Die Hard, The Rundown, The Mummy, Indiana Jones films, etc.
I don’t really have a FAVORITE actor or actress, but I do tend to give some movies more of a chance if certain actors and actresses are part of them. It really depends on the person. For example, I think Kate Winslet generally chooses interesting projects. So if a movie came out with her in it, I might be more inclined to give it my time.
With that said, here are some of those actors and my favorite movies in their filmographies. (Current favorites are in bold.)
Films Seen: Little Women, Bringing Up Baby, The Philadelphia Story, The Lion in Winter, The African Queen
Why You Should See It: Action! Comedy! Humphrey Bogart! (Note: Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart are much older in this film than they appear in the poster.)
Films Seen: Spellbound, The Yearling, The Gentlemen’s Agreement, Roman Holiday, The Big Country
Why You Should See It: Charleston Heston and Peck fight it out.
Films Seen: Veer Zaara, Main Hoon Na, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Dil To Pagal Hai Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Kal No Naa Ho
Why You Should See It: I’m not a fan of all the Shahrukh Khan films. He’s just the most winning of all the male Bollywood leads that I’ve seen. When I want a Bollywood film, I know there’s going to be some great humor and musical numbers in a his films. Here’s one of my favorites from Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. It’s actually an homage to the Bollywood films of the past with some super famous modern leading ladies. It’s also just catchy.