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The Almodóvar Octet

To hype Pedro Almodóvar’s new fall movie, Volver, Sony is presenting “Viva Pedro”—a retrospective of eight films, beginning August 11. Which ones should you run to see?

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Antonio Banderas in Law of Desire.  

The Okay
Law of Desire (1987)
A clunky but sincere paperback romance, spiced up by a young Antonio Banderas as the hunk fatale.
Flower of My Secret (1995)
An overstuffed suitcase of Almodóvar affectations, but at least there’s Marisa Paredes, who’s defiantly brittle.

The Good
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988)
Madcap melodrama, and the sort of farce a lesser director would churn out ad infinitum.
All About My Mother (1999)
A pregnant nun, a doomed young man, transvestite prostitutes, and the propulsive sense that everyone will be okay.

The Superior
Live Flesh (1996)
This love triangle–cum–pentagon mash-up uses improbable coincidences to forge a freedom song for convicts, bad cops, even a paraplegic basketball star.
Matador (1986)
Intoxicating hetero camp: Bluebeard versus the Black Widow in a Freudian sex-and-death match. Possession unto death is a familiar Almodóvar theme—but the only real emotion here is the director’s glee in flouting taboos.
Talk to Her (2002)
Almodóvar’s gentlest portrait of transgressive love has you hooked before you grasp the grandeur of its perversity.
Bad Education (2004)
A refinement of Law of Desire, minus the swooning. There are flashbacks within flashbacks, stories within stories, yet the film is emotionally seamless: You don’t even realize, until late, that you’re watching a noirish whodunit that borders on tragedy. Gael García Bernal looks like Julia Roberts, only more beautiful.


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