All About My Mother is the Pick of the Week

A gorgeous 1999 Almodovar classic tops a new week of stellar releases.
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Director Pedro Almodovar is one of the finest filmmakers in the history of film. He is truly the greatest master of the modern melodrama, works of colorful art that features strong women, explicit themes of sexuality, and symbolic approaches to story/plot. In one of his sublime masterworks, All About My Mother (1999), he arguably reached his zenith, by tributing his love and respect for females, their friendships, and the issues that connect them forever. 

Cecilia Roth stars as Manuela, a nurse whose life is emotionally shaken and devastated after her son gets killed in a hit-and-run accident. She moves to Barcelona, hoping to find her ex-husband (and father of the son), who now has a job of a female impersonator. While on this journey, she befriends and becomes the surrogate mother of a disparate group of women: a pregnant, HIV-positive nun (Penelope Cruz); her cynical mother (Rosa Maria Sarda); a famous, but troubled actress (Marisa Paredes); her drug-addicted lover (Candela Pena); and a transexual sex worker (Antonia San Juan). With this, she finds her true calling, and realizes that the often painful road to recovery is filled with hope and new beginnings.

This remains an incredible and soulful film, and I'm definitely looking forward to the new release from Criterion, which includes supplements such as a 52-minute making of doc from 2012, including interviews with Almodovar; his brother and executive producer Augustin; actresses Cruz, Parades, Roth, and San Juan; production manager Esther Garcia; and author Didler Eribon. There's also a 1999 television program featuring Almodovar and his mother, Francisca Caballero, along with Cruz, Roth, Paredes, and San Juan; and a 48-minute Q&A in Madrid with Almodovar, Augustin, and Parades. This is truly a must-have for all film lovers and aficionados of Almodovar!

Other notable releases:

Fail Safe (Criterion): Sidney Lumet's doomsday thriller about a possible incursion into U.S. airspace by Russia, and the President (Henry Fonda) must do everything he can to avoid World War III.

Parasite: Bong Joon-ho's acclaimed dark dramedy about greed and class differences that threaten the newly formed symbotic relationship between the rich Park family and the deprived Kim clan.

Let's Scare Jessica to Death: Jessica (Zohra Lampert), seeking peace and tranquility from a stint in an institution following a nervous breakdown, gets more than she bargained for when her Connecticut home seems to be haunted by a young girl who drowned years ago on wedding day.

Tammy and the T-Rex: A young Denise Richards (in a major film debut) stars as Tammy, a popular high school student whose boyfriend is killed by her jealous ex. His brain is implanted in an animatronic Tyrannosaurus by an evil scientist. He eventually escapes, goes after the ex, and his cronies for revenge. He reunites with Tammy, and they try to find a new, more proper vessel for his brain. 

Bell, Book, and Candle: James Stewart plays a New York publisher who gets entranced by as stunning young woman (Kim Novak), who turns out to be a witch.

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