.. very few people are in the queue outside, this afternoon, at the cinema; a subdued somber solar light streams through the clouds; at least it is not raining. I am here to see Julieta, a subtle and beautifully crafted film which is the latest by Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar.
Julieta is a melodrama, as are all of Almodóvar’s films, only highly stylized and well-crafted. The films of the world renowned director can be easily divided into two periods (10 films in each period), that is, the 1980s/early 1990s and the mid-1990s to the present time. Of the five films that I have not seen, by the Spanish director, four of these are his first four developmental features (I have also not seen his superficial 2013 offering I’m so Excited). The first period of films are strongly provocative, even sensationalist, while the second period of films are leavened with more depth of storyline, acting, pacing, and tone (gorgeous soundtracks by Alberto Iglesias are featured in many Almodóvar films, as well). In general, director Almodóvar does exhibit the exuberance of many creative Spanish artists after the end of the decades-long artistic censorship of the Franco Dictatorship in the mid-1970s.
Almodóvar formed his own production company in 1987 and his long standing success internationally stems from the quality of his films, and his access to international distribution which has allowed audiences in North America, South America, and Europe to have access to his work.
In the 1980’s/early 1990’s, the principal actors/actresses to work with the director were Antonio Banderas, Carmen Maura, and Victoria Abril. The 1st period of film work actually ends in 1993 with the overwrought Kika. That film was preceded by five intensely brilliant movies: Matador (1986), Law of Desire (1987), Women on the Verge (1988), Tie me up! Tie me down!, and High Heels (1991).
Strong female roles, and a few impressive male roles in the mid-1990s and beyond, were a signature of the Spanish director’s second/current period of films; These films, overall, can be considered strongly feminist; but there are two definitive macho exceptions, 1997’ Live Flesh (with Javier Bardem) and 2001’ Bad Education (with Gael García Bernal). Almodóvar’s second period of film work is dominated with performances by Marisa Paredes, Penelope Cruz, Elena Anaya, and Cecilia Roth. The ten films, the second period, are uniformly although uniquely superlative, with the aforementioned exception of the 2013 film.
The highlight of the Spanish director’s career were the back to back films, All About my Mother (1999) and Talk to Her (2002). The two films garnered over 30 international awards, between them, including two US Academy Awards.