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April 1999

Pedro Almodovar
The Songs of Almodovar
Metro Blue

The films of Spanish director Pedro Almodovar are fairly unique in the ranks of world cinema, for, among other things, their winking diversity of perspectives. Melodrama, black comedy, arty archness, emotional truth, garish overkill, and psychic insights seem to crash together into color-drenched heaps of sensory input. In other words, they hit you on many levels.

One of those levels is clearly musical: like any coherent film aesthetic, music is an integral-and usually underrated-part of the package. The Songs of Almodovar (Metro Blue 7243; 77:18), a collection of tunes from his films, offers a compact example of the aural component in the director's idea of what makes a film tick. Often, the emotional heat of Latin musicians tints the dramatic/comedic activity on-screen. Mariachi is the fare that Mexican star Lola Beltran brings, along with Cuban La Lupe's salsa energy for Almodovar's well-known Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down quivers to the pulse of Spanish rock band Duo Dinamico.

In between the song-parade are lush instrumental tracks that hint at the melancholy core below the surface-level mayhem. Therein lies the secret life of Almodovar's filmography.

Originally published in April 1999
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