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Book Review: All About Almodóvar: A Passion for Cinema edited by Brad Epps and Despina Kakoudaki

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Pedro Almodóvar is the world’s most widely recognized Spanish film auteur for a reason. His lushly photographed, emotionally rich melodramas are both widely accessible and yet so nuanced that they lend themselves to deep analysis — a whole book’s worth in fact.

And that is just what All About Almodóvar: A Passion for Cinema is — a dense collection of essays that delves into all sections of Almodóvar’s oeuvre, from his breakout ’80s hits like Matador and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown to more recent favorites like All About my Mother and Talk to Her, which I consider to be one of the ten best films of this past decade.

Edited by Brad Epps, professor of Romance languages and literature at Harvard, and Despina Kakoudaki, assistant professor of literature and film at American University, the book collects essays from them and 15 others to create an exhaustive analysis of Almodóvar’s work, exploring it from a variety of paradigms, including his use of music, his genre tendencies, his questions of gender identity, and the actors he’s worked with throughout his career.

As a single volume, All About Almodóvar can be unquestionably intimidating for casual reading, but as a companion piece to his films and a deeper study of them, this is an excellent tool. Film professors teaching a class on Almodóvar or simply featuring one of his films in a broader context will find plenty of jumping-off points, whether they are looking to discuss his work visually and its striking imagery and color, or to discuss his work thematically, and the undertones of violence and farce that can be found throughout Almodóvar’s filmography.

As a bonus — and really, reason enough to obtain the book — the final chapter is a filmmaker’s journal from the man himself, where Almodóvar offers a fairly brief but insightful peek into his filmmaking process with notes from the production of 2006’s Volver.

All About Almodóvar is a rich collection of film analysis, befitting the rich collection of films that have come forth from the talents of Pedro Almodóvar.

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About Dusty Somers

Dusty Somers is a Seattle-based editor and writer. He is a member of the Online Film Critics Society and Seattle Theater Writers.