Pedro Almodóvar's films, which will be screened by the Northwest Film Center during the coming weeks, are brilliant melting pots of autobiography, fiction, and a studied love for the history of cinema. Almodóvar's true genius lies in his consistent ability to seamlessly weave together dark humor, a sexy style, and a shockingly empathetic touch--often moving between melodrama, comedy, and noir during one film, he creates lovable characters and never hesitates to take shots at established norms (especially gender, sex, and religion). His last three films--All About My Mother, Talk to Her, and Bad Education--have cemented his reputation, but here are a few of his early films that you shouldn't miss.
Dark Habits (1983): Nightclub singer Yolanda (Cristina Sánchez Pascual) seeks safety in a convent when her boyfriend ODs. There she finds nuns who are drug addicts, lesbians, romance novelists, fashion designers--oh, and they keep a tiger in the courtyard.
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988): Unbelievable coincidences and chance meetings fuel this farcical comedy. Pepa (Carmen Maura) knows she is losing her lover--not to his wife, but to yet another lover. As she tries to track him down, she must help her friend (who's befriended Shiite terrorists) try to rent her apartment, and get to know Ivan's sexy son (Antonio Banderas), all while fighting her suicidal tendencies.
Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down (1990): This film gave Antonio Banderas his breakthrough role--but forgive that, because it's fantastic. Banderas plays Ricky, a recently released mental patient in love with a porn star named Marina (Victoria Abril).
Live Flesh (1997): Víctor (Liberto Rabal) accidentally shoots a police officer (Javier Bardem) while trying to woo a reluctant junkie (Francesca Neri). While in prison, Victor learns that the officer has become the star of Spain's wheelchair basketball team and married the junkie himself. Everyone feels wronged, and there isn't enough revenge (or sex) to go around in this über-stylish, vibrantly colored thriller.