Viva Pedro - Pedro Almodóvar Classics Collection (9-disc)

 

Talk to Her       Bad Education       All About My Mother

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown        Live Flesh

Flower of My Secret        Matador        Law of Desire

VIVA PEDRO (Bonus disc)

 

The films in this box set are all by Spain's high priest of hip, Pedro Almodóvar. That country's most celebrated filmmaker since Luis Bunuel. All eight films in the boxset have met with critical appeal, which include Matador (1985), a fable about sex, death and bull-fighting which Almodóvar proclaimed the ‘weirdest’ film of his career, The Flower of My Secret (1995), which signaled a new maturity and emotional depth which would continue to distinguish in films such as All About My Mother. Also included here are Law of Desire (1987) - a classic tale of romantic obsession starring a young Antonio Banderas. Visually assured, the films from Law of Desire onwards established the director’s working relationship with brother Augustin, with whom he formed production company El Deseo.

Talk to Her, Bad Education, All About My Mother, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and Live Flesh rank as quintessential Almodóvar, and validate his status as one of the most consistently exciting filmmakers in the world.

 

The DVDs: This is an excellent package. All the DVDs are progressively transferred, 16X9 enhanced and look exceptionally good.

A few notes: 4 of the DVDs (Live Flesh, Bad Education, Talk to Her and The Flower of My Secret) appear to be duplicates of the existing Region 1 releases (extras too) with Bad Education being the NC-17 (not visually censored) cut. All About My Mother and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown are different than the previously released individual discs (see samples below) - the Viva Pedro package contains superior transfers (from remastered prints). Matador and Law of Desire are seeing their first light of day - digitally-speaking - in region 1. We have compared both to their PAL counterparts (UK).

Where possible we have compared with the Region 2 - PAL Optimum (The Almodóvar Collection - Volumes 1 + 2). The NTSC editions show favorably in comparison.

7 of the feature films have ghastly yellow subtitles in optional French or English. Live Flesh has a white font in your choice of French, English or Spanish.

I detected no irregularities in the audio. All DVDs are coded for Region 1 only in the NTSC standard.

There is a commentary on Talk to Her and Bad Education (plus other extras indicated below), a theatrical trailer for Live Flesh, and a Making Of... featurette for The Flower of My Secret.

All About My Mother, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Matador and Law of Desire are bare bones (without any supplements).

The Bonus Disc has three major features on it - all optionally subtitled - totaling almost 2 hours. Deconstructing Almodóvar has input from Richard Peña (program director - Film Society of Lincoln Center), Javier Cámara, brother/producer Augustin Almodóvar, Esther Garcia and others as they genuinely sing the man's praises interspersed with supporting clips from his films. It is 52 minutes long. Directed by Almodóvar has some of the same principles as Deconstructing Almodóvar with the addition of input from actors - like Penelope Cruz, Leonor Watling etc. - and focuses more on his direct relationship with the performers and crew. It runs almost 30 minutes long. Viva Pedro tells the story of Almodóvar's roots and runs only 25 minutes. There is a preview of Volver and some other previews. 8 postcards - representing posters of the 8 feature films, are included in the package.

The box is a 5-teiered digipak with the eight films sharing 4 compartments (overlapping spindles) and a separate one for the bonus disc. This is contained in a thick sturdy cardboard box. It is quite beautiful with collage images from the films. SEE PHOTO ABOVE.

Extraneous comments will be briefly mentioned below if I have anything further to add.

P.S. Love Almodóvar's work and my favorite film of his remains Live Flesh. If you are requiring to update your library with some of his best films - this is the definitive package to date for arguably the most exciting filmmaker working today.

 

 

 

(aka "Talk to her" )

 

directed by Pedro Almodóvar
Spain 2002

 

Two strangers are seated next to one another at a Pina Bausch ballet in Madrid: Benigno (Cámara), a private clinic nurse tending to the comatose young Alicia (Watling); and Marco (Grandinetti), a journalist who, due to an encounter with bullfighter Lydia (Flores), will find himself visiting, months later, the same clinic. Not a word passes between the men as they watch the sleepwalkers on stage, but Benigno does notice the tears in Marco's eyes. To reveal more than the first few minutes of Almodóvar's purposefully meandering narrative would diminish your enjoyment. What at first might appear a beautiful, but insubstantial confection steadily grows into his most mature and richly rewarding film to date, alongside All About My Mother. Who today but Almodóvar could switch smoothly between profound emotion and ethical inquiry, high art and gags about bodily functions? Who else would digress with a pastiche silent movie that would never have been greenlit, yet bother (or manage) to make it spot-on in style (Murnau) and structurally essential? About love, loss, loneliness, doubt, desire, faith, forgiveness and the importance of honest communication with oneself and others, the film combines sensuality, spirituality and sheer joy in storytelling in marvelously harmonious proportions.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE.

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Theatrical Release: March 15th, 2002

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Sony Pictures

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(aka 'Bad Education" or "Las Visitas')

directed by Pedro Almodóvar
Spain 2004

 

 From the Saul Bass-inspired opening credit sequence of peeling, layered billboard posters, Almodóvar evokes the densely layered cinema of Alfred Hitchchock to create a reverent, yet continuously inventive, exquisitely realized, and brilliantly modulated comic melodrama in Bad Education. Ostensibly a story about a filmmaker (Fele Martinez) suffering from a creative block (who, as the film begins has resorted to pinching potential ideas from salacious tabloid news articles) who is visited by a former schoolmate and choirboy - now a struggling actor and occasional hustler who now goes by the stage name Angel (Gael García Bernal) (and whose only experience is from an obscure, third rate acting troupe called The Bumblebees) - with a disturbingly sensational, semi-autobiographical story of his abuse in the hands of the schoolmaster Father Manolo (Daniel Giménez-Cacho), the film soon evolves into a deeply entangled tale of deception, closely guarded secrets, dubious allegiances, inscrutable motivation, and revenge. Richly (and ingeniously) told in intertwining realities of flashbacks, present day, and filmed re-enactments of Ignacio's deeply troubled life, the film achieves a delicate balance of tension, mystery, deception, and ambiguity (Zahara's introduction is through her performance of the song, Quizás, Quizás, Quizás). Recalling the decadence, creative process, and ambiguous and confused sexuality of Law of Desire, the film features Almodóvar's quintessentially bold, but elegant visual refinement, lush construction, tongue-in-cheek double entendres, surreal humor, and complex pulp narrative that have come to define his exhilarating, idiosyncratic cinema.

Excerpt from Acqarello's comments at Strictly Film School located HERE

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Theatrical Release: March 19th, 2004

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DVD Review: Columbia Tri-Star / Sony Pictures Classics - Region 1 - NTSC

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Individual NC-17 RELEASE

   

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Buyers beware...
The R-rated DVD of “Bad Education” is not cut, but visibly censored.

        

Distribution Columbia Tri-Star Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 1:45:32 
Video 2.35:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.81 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
Audio Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1) 
Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Columbia Tri-Star Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 2.35:1

Edition Details:

• Audio Commentary with Pedro Almodóvar
• Deleted Scenes
• Featurettes
• Photo gallery
• Previews

DVD Release Date: April 12th, 2005

Keep Case
Chapters: 28

 

 

Comments:

I was sent the Un-cut NC-17 version as opposed to the R-rated version.

(The film was released in America as NC-17... The R-rating version is a cheapie edit of sort, strictly made for the video release to appease rental/retail stores (ex. Blockbuster Video) who refuse to carry NC-17 titles. A similar R-rated edition for video release took place with Bertolucci’s “The Dreamers,” a couple of Miike titles, and Breillat’s “Romance.” This is essentially the distributor trying to make a buck by seeing their movie makes it onto Blockbuster Video shelves. - Thanks Adam!)

I am very happy with the image. Ecstatic actually. Brilliant colors and sharp as a tack. Commentary from Almodóvar is an eye opener. This is a top notch DVD and we hope to post soon the information on what is missing between the two editions.  

Gary W. Tooze

NOTE: Buyers beware...
We’ve learned that the R-rated DVD of “Bad Education” is not cut, but visibly censored.

 



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(aka 'All About My Mother')

 

directed by Pedro Almodóvar

Spain 1999

After the death of her beloved teenage son in an accident, Roth leaves Madrid for Barcelona to cope with her grief, hook up with old friends, and - just maybe - contact the long-estranged father the boy never knew. As she gradually regains the will to live through her involvement with the lives of others (including her son's favourite stage diva Paredes), Almodóvar piles on the coincidences, contrivances and twists so that the film succeeds best as a beautifully crafted, semi-ironic melodrama (it cleverly alludes to - and integrates - All About Eve, Streetcar..., Capote, etc). Though the film has a fair share of camp humour, it's the formal and emotional sophistication that really impresses; like Live Flesh, it displays a depth and maturity lacking in Almodóvar's earlier work.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

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Reviews    More Reviews     DVD Reviews - R1       DVD Reviews R2

 

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Sony Pictures

Region 1 - NTSC

 

NOTE: This DVD is different than the one offered individually in region 1 (see image) compared HERE

 

Comments Colors look superior - the image is brighter and sharper than on the initial releases. No extras but a great film - and solid DVD - extremely memorable.

 

 



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Individual Release TOP vs. Viva Pedro package BOTTOM

 

 

(aka "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" )

 

directed by Pedro Almodóvar
Spain

 

Loosely based upon a play by Jean Cocteau, and by Almodóvar considered his key film, "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" demonstrates many of the future elements of his oeuvre, here especially hysterically women.

The story begins with Pepa (Carmen Maura), distraught my her break-up with her boyfriend, prepares her suicide by gazpacho with sleeping pills, as she is saved by her best friend, who is on the run, only later to have her ex-lovers grown up son's fiancée falling asleep, because she ate of the gazpacho and him having an affair with her best friend.

When Almodóvar talks about it as his key film, it may be because we here find motifs later explores in especially "Live Flesh" and "All about my Mother", but also here he hits the tone of this flamboyant often campy colorful mise-en-scene, where he pays homage to his many influences, as for instance Salvatore Dali.

Henrik Sylow

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Theatrical Release: March 23, 1988 (Barcelona)

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Sony Pictures

Region 1 - NTSC

 

 

Comments

Not as saturated as the PAL edition, but still possibly the weak link of the package - image-wise. It could be marginally cropped. A decent image, but not stellar. There are signs of color banding, but in general artifacts are at a minimum. Detail is somewhat weaker than in some of the other releases in the Viva Pedro package.

 

 



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(Optimum (The Almodóvar Collection - Volume 1) - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Viva Pedro Collection - Region 1- NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 

 


 

(Optimum (The Almodóvar Collection - Volume 1) - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Viva Pedro Collection - Region 1- NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 

 

(aka "Live Flesh" )

 

directed by Pedro Almodóvar
Spain

 

This free but sensitive adaptation of Ruth Rendell's thriller is Almodóvar's most impressive film to date - darker, straighter and far more controlled than his camp extravaganzas. A story of obsession, hatred, jealousy and revenge, it concerns a young man sent to prison for his accidental involvement in a police raid that went disastrously wrong. He comes out - and he wants the crippled cop who helped to put him away. The performances are spot on, the control of pace, mood and narrative is assured, the visuals are crisp, stylish and imaginative, and the whole film has, for Almodóvar, an unprecedented weight and substance.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

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Theatrical Release: October 12th, 1997

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(aka "The Flower of My Secret" or "La Flor de mi secreto" )

 

directed by Pedro Almodóvar
Spain 1995

 

Here we have Almodóvar's most open, unadorned, emotive and maybe even courageous film to date, an intimate portrait of pain and regeneration that strikes the heart without trickery. Gone are the chic excesses of Kika and the uneasy balance between superficial sensationalism and pocket melodrama that's marked the director's work since Women on the Verge. Paredes is immensely sympathetic as Leo, a forty-something writer of romantic fiction who hits crisis point when she's rejected by her absentee husband and finds she's trapped by her reputation when she tries to expand her literary horizons. Although she's supported by Angel (Echanove), cultural editor of El País, the constant bickering between her mother and sister doesn't help matters (Lampreave and de Palma, in a double-act to treasure); a trip home to her native village in La Mancha proves, however, an unlikely source of solace. Rarely has Almodóvar focused so closely on a single character, and the challenge of developing an individual portrait has reconnected him with the emotional realities of an everyday damaged life, where loneliness, professional frustration and the irritation and commitment that permeate family relationships are observed with perceptiveness, honesty and the usual incisive humour.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE.

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Theatrical Release: September 22, 1995

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directed by Pedro Almodóvar
Spain 1986

 

A very black comedy and highly provocative satiric allegory on sex and death, "Matador" is my favourite of all Almodovar's films. While lacking both the depth of character and emotions of "Law of Desire", it is so unashamed direct in its attack on - for instance - the church suppression of the lust of the flesh and its – almost – vulgar refusal to censor its own motifs, as in creating a parallel between death and orgasm, that one just have to admire the boldness of Almodovar.

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Theatrical Release: March 7, 1986

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Sony Pictures

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Comments A vast improvement over the contrast boosted PAL image which is artificially brighter showing many visible artifacts. Detail is acceptable and overall the best I have seen the film look.

 

 



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(Optimum (The Almodovar Collection Volume 2) - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Viva Pedro - Pedro Almodóvar Classics Collection - Region 1- NTSC BOTTOM
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(aka "La ley del deseo" )

 

directed by Pedro Almodóvar
Spain 1987

 

The key Almodovar film. His most important film. His break-thru film. The Law of Desire is the one film one needs to watch if one wants to see what Almodovar is about and why everyone is saying he is a genius.

Almodovar examines different views on sex and love here, mainly thru the relationship between Pablo – an filmmaker – and Juan – who fears being gay and getting involved, even though his fears are exactly what he is living out; so to speak.

It is with Law of Desire, that Almodovar for the first time manages to enrich his already complex mise-en-scene with the depth of the emotions his characters and his examination of relationships, thus forewarning even more skilled displays of this and these motifs in Carne Tremula and All About my Mother.

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Theatrical Release: February 1987 (Berlin International Film Festival)

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Sony Pictures

Region 1 - NTSC

 

Comments A beautiful transfer with very little to choose from between the NTSC and PAL editions (white subs to yellow). A minimum of artifacts, ranging from almost detectable in some scenes to none in others.

A commentary on this would have been appreciated.

 

 



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(Optimum (The Almodovar Collection Volume 2) - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Viva Pedro - Pedro Almodóvar Classics Collection - Region 1- NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


(Optimum (The Almodovar Collection Volume 2) - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Viva Pedro - Pedro Almodóvar Classics Collection - Region 1- NTSC BOTTOM)

 


 
DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

Sony Pictures

Region 1 - NTSC

 

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

Sony Pictures

Region 1 - NTSC




 

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