Medical Biophysics Graduate Student Association


Updates, opinion pieces, and news related to the department

Pedro Almodovar double bill: Matador and Broken Embraces

You know what pisses me off? The fact that I have no life. And you know what reminds me that I have no life? The fact that I waste my evenings on the internet, paying attention to unprofessional critics’ jackass opinions about movies. Don’t get me wrong, the internet is great; blogs podcasts and flash video have allowed for anyone to become an internet celebrity, and there is some stuff that I can’t get enough of, which wouldn’t get a proper chance through other more expensive mediums. But there is also a lot of self-important dudes on the web who obnoxiously sermonize there opinions as if everyone gives a fat shit. I think what bugs me is that they’re really long, which marks how pointless they are. The trick is to keep it concise, get all the good jokes out and leave people wanting more; less than ten minutes for a video, 30 minutes for a podcast, and 2000 words for an article. With that said here’s my opinion on some films. Is it pretentious and pointless? You be the judge!

Let’s start with something you would not expect me to like. ‘Me’ being your classic internet movie nerd whose biased opinion requires a film be inherently misogynistic and cartoonishly violent (thank you Paul Verhoven!) The recent Pedro Almodovar film Broken Embraces plays like a classic mystery with the pieces of a story slowly coming together to reveal a romantic tragedy. It’s about a film auteur name Mateo Blanco (Lluis Homar) who lost his vision in an accident and goes by the alias Harry Caine. The mystery begins to reveal itself when a man from Harry’s past named Ray X wants to write a screenplay about events surrounding his accident. The whole first act of the movie is a little dull actually. The movie doesn’t really pick until Penelope Cruz comes in. She shows up in flashback as Harry’s muse, and her presence really gets the movie going. It’s the music, and the cinematography; she is stunning in every shot, even when she say’s she isn’t.  This is why I love Pedro Almodovar movies. I haven’t seen many of his films but amongst the ones I have Almodovar really makes you feel something deeply for his female characters and for women in general. Talk to Her was about how the love men can have for women can be entirely incomprehensible, and the lengths men would go to be with the women they loved. The film didn’t ask you to consider the morality of actions, but tries to make you understand how profound a man’s obsession can be. All about My Mother is also about women, but as the title implies the emotions are less romantic and more maternal.  But, you know, those two feeling aren’t necessarily unrelated. Anyway, I couldn’t help watching these films without high pitch, uncontrollable weeping, and Almodovar and Penelope Cruz did it again with Broken Embraces. Surprisingly this didn’t make the girl I was with that uncomfortable! I really like Penelope Cruz now. In this film she get’s worked up and starts yelling, she gets morose and emotional, she gets cold and hurtful, all done sincerely and strong. She steals this film. You’ll get a sense of this during the beginning credits. The credits are overlaid on top of the perspective of a camera fixed on a stand in. The stand in looks plain without make up and the shot is out of focus and poorly lit, then she is replaced by Penelope Cruz and the shot looks perfect. Right after I watched Broken Embraces I rented one of Almodovar’s earlier films Matador. It was released in the mid-eighties and I think it was before Almodovar became famous in North America with Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. It’s about a devoutly catholic man played by Antonio Banderas, who confesses to being a serial murderer after feeling guilt over a sin that he committed. The narrative soon focuses on the actual killers, and their association of sex with killing. The film didn’t really do it for me because it didn’t have any women characters that made the other movies appealing and it got a little nutty with its mixed themes of religion and passion. I would still recommend it though, because the plot was totally original and provocative, and it was interesting to see a pre-Desperado Antonio Banderas.