Desire Unlimited: The Cinema of Pedro Almodovar

Desire Unlimited: The Cinema of Pedro Almodovar

by Paul Julian Smith
     
 

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In the last decade, Spanish auteur Pedro Almodóvar has grown from critical darling of the
film circuit scene to mainstream success. Frequently comic, often deadly serious, always
visually glorious, his recent films range from the Academy Award–winning drama Talk to
Her
to the 2011 horror film The Skin I Live In. Though they are

Overview

In the last decade, Spanish auteur Pedro Almodóvar has grown from critical darling of the
film circuit scene to mainstream success. Frequently comic, often deadly serious, always
visually glorious, his recent films range from the Academy Award–winning drama Talk to
Her
to the 2011 horror film The Skin I Live In. Though they are ambitious and varied in style,
each is a distinctive innovation on the themes that have defined his work.

Desire Unlimited is the classic film-by-film assessment of Almodóvar’s oeuvre,
now updated to include his most recent work. Still the only study of its kind in English,
it vigorously confirms its original argument that beneath Almodóvar's genius for
comedy and visual pleasure lies a filmmaker whose work deserves to be taken with the
utmost seriousness.


From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A thoughtful scholar and evident fan, Smith situates the nine feature films of Spanish director Almodovar within the shifting politics of post-Franco Spain, international debates about gender and sexuality, and the codes of Hollywood (particularly slasher films, melodramas and work by Douglas Sirk, Frank Tashlin and Alfred Hitchcock). Almodovar's films, he argues, seek ``truth in travesty,'' partly by calling attention to cinematic artifice and representing gender and sexuality as stylized performance. Smith also contextualizes Almodovar's work, comparing its reception in Spain to that in other European countries and America--though a consideration of other Spanish-speaking markets might have been even more enlightening. He notes, for example, that Spanish audiences particularly appreciate the casting of straight actor Antonio Banderas in a gay role and of ``genuine girl'' Carmen Maura as a transsexual, communicating ``a certain bracketing of gender identity'' that might be missed elsewhere. Smith points out that Anglo-American critics consumed with the supposed misogyny of Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! missed the important theme of addiction. Although Smith's prose, informed by the psychoanalytic discourse of linguistics and feminist theory, occasionally threatens to deflate the delightful flamboyance of his subject, and some of his arguments beg for further development, his essays present a finely observed, compelling case for the seriousness and complexity of a cinema dedicated to evoking ``the fragility of sexual difference.'' (Apr.)
Library Journal
The author (Spanish, Cambridge Univ.) looks at one of Spain's most important contemporary film directors, beginning with his first full-length feature and ending with High Heels (1991). There is no denying that these films have special impact and importance to contemporary film audiences because they combine controversial themes and striking cinematography. Because he looks at the production scripts, knows the significance of shooting locations, has a familiarity with Spanish culture, and is able to use Spanish-language sources, Smith offers many insights unavailable to readers limited to materials in English. The only other book in English on this director, Nuria Vidal's The Films of Pedro Almodvar (Instituto de la Cinematografia y las Artes Audiovisuales, Ministerio de Cultura, 1988), is not widely available. Consequently, Smith's work, though written for an academic audience, will be welcome in most serious film collections.-James E. Ross, Seattle P.L.
From the Publisher
"Finely observed, compelling."—Publishers Weekly

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781781682227
Publisher:
Verso Books
Publication date:
08/12/2014
Sold by:
Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
288
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

Paul Julian Smith is Professor of Spanish and Head of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Cambridge University. His previous books include Vision Machines: Cinema, Literature and Sexuality in Spain and Cuba, 1983–1993 and The Moderns: Time, Space and Subjectivity in Contemporary Spanish Culture.

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