With the Golden Globes on Sunday, award season has begun, and while I am never able to stay up to watch any of the awards shows in full, I like to enter this season as an educated viewer. Also, I maintain a minor personal fiction that my input is valuable to the Academy. Because of this and because it is the time of year when weekend afternoons are usually spent inside, I tend to make a habit of catching a few Saturday (and sometimes Sunday) matinees, usually at one of my two favorite movie theaters, The County Theater in Doylestown, Pa, and the Civic Theatre of Allentown, in Allentown, Pa. Aside from the fact that both theaters are community, non-profit movie theaters in historic buildings, they also tend to show many of the movies that aren’t always playing in the regular multiplex but receive a lot of critical attention. Also, the concessions at these theaters tends to better in general and more reasonably priced, but that’s just a bonus.
This Saturday, I headed to The County for Pedro Almodovar’s Broken Embraces. First of all, the movie is beautiful and beautifully shot. You seriously could watch it with the sound off just for the photography. And even if you miss the subtitles* in a particular scene, staring intently at the screen is still worth it. Basically, it’s a movie about movies that features two movies within the movie itself. Broken Embraces is about a blind screenwriter (who wasn’t always blind) and the story he tells after someone from his past re-emerges and wants to work with him on a project about revenge. The party from the past shakes up both the screenwriter and his agent (with whom he is very close) and the story that unfolds as the movie progresses is very layered and very carefully told. When the movie opens, it’s not quite clear how all the parties who have been introduced will meet, but when they do it results in a movie that one reviewer (on The County’s website) described as “half noir, half melodrama,” or, as the people I put it with described it, “very David Lynch meets Hitchcock.” Actually Stephanie Zacharek at Salon does a good job describing all of it in her review “‘Broken Embraces’ and the ties that Bind.”
Personally, I liked the movie, and I don’t want to say too much about it because it think it’s worth seeing. Like the only other Almodovar movie I’ve seen, Volver, I’m having a bit of trouble responding to it in a coherent way. I very much enjoyed the movie, but I don’t know exactly how to describe what I liked. For me, I think that Almodovar’s movies are about the experience of seeing him tell a story. Also, I have a bit of a dilemma – I don’t know what to say, but I’m also afraid I’ll say too much and ruin it for someone else while I’m fumbling for something clever or insightful. I think I’ll just leave things with the trailer and and my recommendation.
* The movie is in Spanish.