(Just a single rule: mix-tape-style, no more than one film per director. You know, because otherwise the whole thing would be pointless.)
Comedy/Drama • dir. Pedro Almodóvar • 2006 • Spain
Even after once subjecting myself – in a frenzy of masochistic curiosity – to Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen at my local cinema, I’m reasonably sure that no one sets out to make a bad movie. The fact there is so much persuasive proof to the contrary more likely than not simply proves how slippery a bar of soap filmmaking is: hundreds of hands at work, but good luck finding anywhere a sure grip. (Or maybe you prefer this, from Francois Truffaut: “Making a movie is like taking a stagecoach ride in the Old West. Early on, you hope it will be a pleasant trip. Midway through, you will be satisfied if you just reach your destination.”)
To create a halfway decent movie – let along a stellar filmmaking career – a whole heap of things have to work out well. And, writing as an observer at least, there are precisely never any guarantees of doing anything successfully. The best any producer can hope for is to fill the director’s chair with the best available bottom – one belonging to some larger-than-life individual with rare reserves of creativity, talent, tenacity, resourcefulness, vigor, and the kind of nerve it takes to be in charge whether or not the money runs out, the actors suffer crises of confidence, or the script still needs some work. For the last twenty or so years, there’s been no surer bet than Pedro Almodóvar. I pick Volver as my favorite of his films – but, really, pick any of a dozen and you won’t be far off track. The great director’s work is intimate, exciting, charming, passionate… all the sorts of things that film lovers hope for in that blissful silent moment before the projector whirls into life. And, better yet, many times Almodóvar is smart enough to let Penelope Cruz, in full tilt, do the rest.