“I need a booster to face those savages”
Pedro Almodóvar is a force to be reckoned with. A director who doesn’t appear to make any compromises, making a film almost annually in the eighties and becoming accepted in the mainstream market since 2000. He has a back-catalogue as diverse as Bad Education, Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, and a close-knit group of actors to turn to – including Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz who owe their careers to him. It is clear that although themes of sexuality, identity and gender appear often in his work, Almodóvar can equally raise these issues in cine-literate moments such as the silent-film within Talk to Her or within the context of a crazed-surgeon and his kidnapped-victim in The Skin I Live In. Pedro Almodóvar is part of the roster of filmmakers who owe their own style of film-making to the film-makers that preceded them and upcoming directors who surround them in cinema today. His previous exploits are as cinematically aware as Tarantino and Scorsese, with references to Hitchcock, Fellini and Bergman rather than exploitation and Powell & Pressberger. Does I’m So Excited build on Almodóvar’s work so far? or is it merely a footnote in his ever-growing canon?
Generally speaking, this film remains within the plane – often taking place in ever-decreasing smaller-spaces as the air stewards argue and joke within the preparatory-area at the front of the cabin – to only move into the cock-pit, whereby we remain squeezed in amongst all the dials and gadgets that litter the front of an airplane.
But this film is about capturing the mood of a nation. Pedro Almodóvar is famous for creating an image of Spain to the rest of the world. The cultural attitudes towards death in Volver; the almost-iconic look of the pastel-coloured rooms that he regularly uses. Almodóvar believes we are in a “bleak place” right now – and I’m So Excited is about filling that void with a playful, comedic and upbeat attitude towards our own defencelessness in the face of the recent banking crisis. I’m So Excited is an “unrealistic, metaphorical comedy”, and so you seek out the political and personal issues raised amongst the sex, alcohol and drug-taking on board Flight PE 2549.
This is Almodóvar for the fans. This is Almodóvar for the hard-core film-completest. Since 1999’s All About My Mother, Pedro Almodóvar has been a film-maker who has not only challenged viewers but he has also become a film-maker who weaves profound and deeply-poetic themes and ideas within accessible international cinema. I’m So Excited features a cast and cameos from many actors who have featured in many of his previous films – Javier Cámara (Talk To Her), Lola Dueñas (Volver) and Cecilia Roth (All About My Mother) to name a few – and so we have a film that almost feels like a Best Of… Almodóvar. Using this idea as a jumping-off point, it is more a Best Of… The Early Years of Almodóvar. That’s not a bad thing of course, but personally I preferred his later records and despite a huge success in his native country, I don’t think the film is as accessible as his later films. Enjoyable, quirky and metaphorical – yes. But not as profound as I expect.
Originally written/published on Flickering Myth on 1 May 2013