The best Pedro Almodóvar films to catch up on before the premiere of ‘Parallel Mothers’

The filmmaker from La Mancha returns to the big screen two and a half years after the premiere of ‘Pain and Glory’. To celebrate, Alejandro G. Calvo reviews his cinema.

This Friday, October 8, all moviegoers have an appointment at the movie theater. Premieres Parallel mothers, Pedro Almodóvar’s new film where he offers his own vision of motherhood. As protagonists, Penelope Cruz and Milena Smit, who give life to two women in a very different stage of their lives, but both about to have a baby that will completely change their existence.

In addition to Cruz and Smit, the La Mancha filmmaker is accompanied by Aitana Sánchez-Gijón and Israel Elejalde in this new work that adds to the golden filmography that has led him to be one of the most renowned directors on the international scene. To celebrate the arrival of the new feature film, in SensaCine, from the hand of the critic Alejandro G. Calvo, we review his cinema and choose his best films.

1. THE LAW OF DESIRE (1987)

In 1987, with the newly founded company El Deseo, he premiered The law of Desire, with Antonio Banderas and Carmen Maura, two of his fetish actors -although with Maura he had his pluses and minuses in his next film-. Without having yet entered into the dispute that would keep them busy years later, they were completely intertwined and this shows in the final result.

It tells the story of Pablo (Eusebio Poncela) and Tina (Maura), two brothers who dedicate themselves to show business and who share a troubled life full of emotional wounds. When Pablo meets Antonio (Banderas), they will experience an abrupt change. Almodóvar, at a critical creative moment, left us with several scenes impossible to erase from the memory, starting with the controversy that saw Antonio Banderas having anal sex unleashed.

Why is it in the first place? For being the change towards that Almodóvar cinema that would later host films such as Everything about my mother O Talk to her. It is the director’s first great melodrama, with overtones of a thriller, and it gives us a hint of what would come next. Only he is capable of making a story completely on the edge, with rapists, murderers and outcasts of society, matter to us as spectators. Almodóvar makes an incredible story thrill.

Can be seen in Netflix and Filmin.

2. ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER (1999)

Everything about my mother marked the return of the filmmaker after a bad streak that began in 1993 with Peek. The impact of this film reached Hollywood in a resounding way, as it won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film. Without a doubt, it was a walk through the big door.

The film focuses on Manuela, a nurse who works in the transplant area of ​​a Madrid hospital and who fled Barcelona almost two decades ago after becoming pregnant. On the night her son turns 17, he is hit by a car and dies. Totally devastated, Manuela returns to Barcelona to confront the ghosts of the past.

It can be seen on Netflix and Filmin.

3. TALK TO HER (2002)

The 2000s started very well for Almodóvar. After the premiere of Everything about my mother in 1999, three years later he arrives Talk to her, winner of the Oscar for Best Screenplay, plus a Best Director nomination. There was some controversy, since it was better received abroad than in Spain, if we talk about the academic field. The Spanish Film Academy just awarded it at the Goya Awards that year, proclaiming it the only winner in the category of Best Original Music. The rest, both Best Film and Best Director, went to Mondays in the sunby Fernando León de Aranoa.

In any case, the critics were very much in favor of this disturbing story about Benigno, a nurse who is in charge of two girls in a coma: Lydia, a bullfighter, and Alicia, a young dancer. Javier Cámara, Darío Grandinetti, Leonor Watling and Rosario Flores star in the film.

It can be seen on Netflix and Filmin.

4. WHAT HAVE I DONE TO DESERVE THIS? (1984)

What have I done to deserve this?, the film with which the world discovered Almodóvar, could not be missing from this list. The filmmaker, as usual in his filmography, focuses on those women from the suburbs and busy housewives in their family who continue to move forward as best they can. Already in his first works his personal mark was visible.

The protagonist is Gloria – played by Carmen Maura-, a woman addicted to amphetamines with an everyday reality, but no less cruel for that. Her husband is a taxi driver and, together with her children and her mother-in-law, they live in a neighborhood block in a working-class neighborhood.

It can be seen on Netflix and Filmin.

5. THE SKIN I INHABIT (2011)

Hard not to take into account The Skin I Live In, a tape that allows the viewer to remove each of its layers slowly and with great enjoyment. It has come to be classified as the darkest film in La Mancha, since there is not only drama, there is also a horror story tinge that is most disturbing.

The plot, without revealing too much, centers on a plastic surgeon obsessed with one of his patients, whom he has kidnapped for reasons that will be revealed as the film unfolds. Antonio Banderas, Elena Anaya, Marisa Paredes, Roberto Álamo and Blanca Suárez are some of the names that make up the cast.

It can be seen on Netflix and Filmin.

6. WOMEN ON THE EDGE OF A NERVOUS ATTACK (1988)

With Women at the edge of a nervous attack, Almodóvar sets out to make a more social cinema, reflecting the changes that the Spanish population was experiencing at the time, although without abandoning the style that had brought him to fame. Carmen Maura, Antonio Banderas, Julieta Serrano or Rossy de Palma are some of the fetish actors he had on this occasion.

Women at the edge of a nervous attack It is exactly what the title says, a series of women who, due to different circumstances, are not having a good time. So we have Pepa, who discovers that she is pregnant just when Iván, her partner so far, has broken the relationship. Or Lucía, Iván’s previous girlfriend, who is admitted to a psychiatric hospital. Marisa, along with her boyfriend Carlos, is looking for a flat and they arrive at Pepa’s. And Candela, a friend of the protagonist, goes home after having a relationship with a terrorist.

It can be seen on Netflix and Filmin.

7. PAIN AND GLORY (2019)

Pain and glory, one of the director’s latest productions, has its place on this list. The film is part of its most intimate stage, where we can find titles such as Return O Broken Embraces. Released in 2019, it was received with much praise and was chosen as the Best Film of the Year by the magazine Time.

For Almodóvar it is the closing of a trilogy composed by The law of Desire and Bad Education, since all of them are carried out by male characters who are film directors and who deal with the subject of desire and fiction. On this occasion we meet Salvador Mallo (Banderas), a filmmaker in the midst of a creative crisis who is about to see a film re-released that was not well received at its premiere.

It can be seen on Netflix and Filmin.

8. PEPI. LUCI, BOM AND OTHER GIRLS FROM THE MOUNTAIN (1980)

Pedro Almodóvar has emerged as a master of drama, but it is impossible to forget his beginnings in the Madrid Movida and the most representative is Pepi, Luci, Bom and other girls of the lot. Written in 1975 while working for Telefónica as a clerk and shot with 500,000 pesetas that he was able to collect thanks to his friends, the film presented him to the world as the disruptive filmmaker that he is.

Due to his poor budget, the technique can be improved, but even so he had enough strength to boost his career and to be considered a document of what those wild years were in the capital of Spain.

It can be seen on Filmin and Apple.

9. TIE ME! (1991)

With Tie me up!Pedro Almodóvar continues with a style closer to drama than to the comedy of his early works. It once again has its fetish actors such as Victoria Abril, Loles León, Juliet Serrano, Maria Barranco, Rossy de Palma and a Antonio Banderas before making the big leap to Hollywood.

The story centers on Ricky, the young psychiatric patient who has just been discharged. He just wants to have a normal life next to Marina Osorio, an actress who dedicated herself to porn and who is overcoming her problems with drugs. As you can imagine, what follows is not a pretty romantic story, quite the opposite.

It can be seen on Netflix and Filmin.

10. AMONG DARKNESS (1983)

Last on the list – but no less important, as they say – is In darkness, a film that continues that stage of social cinema in La Mancha. Social cinema, of course, taken with a grain of salt, because nothing that Almodóvar does stops having that personal mark, no matter how much complaint is involved.

The film takes us into the world of religion and how the clergy and the rest of its members took the changes Spain went through during the 80s. Yolanda has just seen her boyfriend die of an overdose, so she seeks refuge in a convent. As one of the nuns, you will discover that not everything that happens within those walls is sacred and is free from sin.

It can be seen on Netflix and Filmin.