Written by: Michael Den Boer on October 3rd, 2016
Theatrical Release Dates: Spain, 1983 (Dark Habits), Spain, 1984 (What Have I Done to Deserve This?), Spain, 1987 (Law of Desire), Spain, 1988 (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown), Spain / France, 1993 (Kika), Spain / France, 1995 (The Flower of My Secret)
Director: Pedro Almodóvar (All Films)
Writer: Pedro Almodóvar (All Films)
Cast: Cristina Sánchez Pascual, Will More, Laura Cepeda, Miguel Zúñiga, Julieta Serrano, Marisa Paredes, Mary Carrillo, Carmen Maura (Dark Habits), Carmen Maura, Luis Hostalot, Ryo Hiruma, Ángel de Andrés López, Gonzalo Suárez, Verónica Forqué, Juan Martínez, Chus Lampreave, Kiti Mánver (What Have I Done to Deserve This?), Eusebio Poncela, Carmen Maura, Antonio Banderas, Miguel Molina, Fernando Guillén, Manuela Velasco, Nacho Martínez, Bibiana Fernández, Helga Liné (Law of Desire), Carmen Maura, Antonio Banderas, Julieta Serrano, María Barranco, Rossy de Palma, Kiti Mánver, Guillermo Montesinos, Bibiana Fernández (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown), Verónica Forqué, Peter Coyote, Victoria Abril, Àlex Casanovas, Rossy de Palma, Bibiana Fernández (Kika), Marisa Paredes, Juan Echanove, Carme Elias, Rossy de Palma, Chus Lampreave, Kiti Mánver (The Flower of My Secret)
DVD Release Date: September 19th, 2016
Approximate Running Times: 96 minutes (Dark Habits), 97 minutes (What Have I Done to Deserve This?), 98 minutes (Law of Desire), 85 minutes (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown), 109 minutes (Kika), 101 minutes (The Flower of My Secret)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen (All Films)
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish, Dolby Digital Stereo Spanish (All Films)
Subtitles: English (All Films)
DVD Release: Studiocanal
Region Encoding: Region 2 PAL (UK)
Retail Price: £39.99 (UK)
Dark Habits – A nightclub singer named Yolanda seeks refuge in a convent that rescues women from the streets.
Part melodrama, part satire, Dark Habits features many of themes that would dominate throughout Pedro Almodóvar’s filmography, most notably religion and morality. The film features a strong premise, a well-constructed narrative and colorful cast of well-defined characters.
Besides the protagonist Yolanda, the other key characters include a heroin addicted abbess, a nun who has a tiger as a pet, a nun who is into fashion, a nun who is in love with a priest and a nun who writes romance novels based on the exploits of other nuns who have stayed at the convent. And it is ultimately the characters which populate Dark Habits that make is so enjoyable to watch.
What Have I Done to Deserve This? – A housewife named Gloria tries to keep her dysfunctional family on the straight and narrow.
Content wise, there are many similarities between What Have I Done to Deserve This? And Dark Habits. With the apartment where the family lives taking the place of the convent from the aforementioned film. Also trying to pin this film down into just one genre is futile. With melodrama and comedy being the two most consistent genres throughout this film.
The film narrative is well constructed and once again characters play a significant role in the story at hand. The cast of characters include, a husband with a secret desire for a German singer, a bottled water addicted mother in law, two sons – one is a drug delay and the other one is gay. Then there are the neighbors, a call girl who takes role playing to another level and a little girl telekinetic powers. Ultimately What Have I Done to Deserve This? Is a fast paced film that finds that rare balance between humor and pathos.
Law of Desire – A gay filmmaker’s one night of indiscretion with psychopath fan puts the lives of those he cares for most in danger.
Content wise, Law of Desire would Pedro Almodóvar explore darker subject matter then his previous films. And though homosexuality has played a role in his previous films, this film would mark the first time he had a gay character in the protagonist role. And without a doubt one of this film’s greatest strengths is that the homosexual characters are already liberated, instead of the all too common portrayal of being in the closet.
The film features a solid premise, a meticulously constructed narrative and well defined characters whose motivations are never left in doubt? Anchoring this film are three characters, a gay filmmaker named Pablo, his transgender sister named Tina and an obsessive fan named Antonio. Ultimately Law of Desire is an extraordinary psychological thriller that quickly draws you into its web of deception.
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown? – A woman frantically tries to track down her ex-lover who has recently left her for another woman.
Melodrama and comedy collide in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown? And though comedy plays a slightly larger role than melodrama, this is one of those rare examples where foreign based humor translates well no matter where you come from. Another strength of this film is its rapid fire dialog. Also this is a film that is also filled with self-referential cinema and reportedly this film was influenced by Hollywood comedies from the 1950’s.
The film features a solid premise, a meticulously constructed narrative and well defined characters whose motivations are never left in doubt? This film’s three core characters are the protagonist an actress named Pepa, her paranoid friend Candela who is dating a terrorist and Lucia the psychopath wife of her ex-lover. Ultimately Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown? An exceptional film that far exceeds the sum of its parts.
Kika – a cosmetologist named Kika finds herself in a love triangle with a son that bears the heavy burden of mothers’ suicide and his father who has his skeletons hiding in the closet.
Content wise, Kika is best described as a fantasy film. It is unlike any other Pedro Almodóvar’s other films. Though elements from this film would make their way into Almodóvar’s latter films. Of course humor is at the forefront and though the majority of the humor hits its mark. And nowhere is humor pushed to its limits then during what can only be described as the most absurd rape scene ever filmed. Besides comedy and Fanatasy, the thriller genre is another genre that creeps its way into the story at hand.
Interesting premise that unfortunately is never fully realized. And when it comes to the convoluted narrative there are too many lulls along the way. Fortunately, when it comes to characters this is the one area where this film delivers and then some. The core characters which make up this film include, the protagonist a cosmetologist named Kika and the two men in her are Ramon, a young man Kika first encountered while she applied makeup to his lifeless body and his step father Nicolas an author who likes to take a hand son approach to the subject matter he writes about. Other key characters include, a former psychologist and now a tabloid journalist named Andrea and Ponr star rapist named Pablo who recently escaped from prison. Overall despite its short comings there is still plenty to enjoy and admire about Kika.
The Flower of my Secret – A successful author who writes sentimental novels under a pseudonym is unable to write due to an emotional crisis in her life.
Content wise, Flower of My Secret is considered a transition film for Pedro Almodóvar who with this film would make the transition to more mature subject matter. And though the film returns to the ever so familiar melodrama genre. There is a distinctive shift in tone, when compared to his previous films. With less of an emphasis on humor.
The premise is strong, the narrative is well constructed and the character are well defined and their motivations are never left in doubt! The main characters include, the protagonist named Leo, who now finds herself in an unhappy marriage, her estranged husband Paco and Angel, the man who helps fill the void left by her husband. Overall Flower of My Secret is emotionally charged melodrama that lingers in your thoughts long after its final moments have faded off the screen.
There are six films in this collection and each film comes on their own dual layer DVD. All films are presented anamorphic widescreens that retain their intended aspect ratios and the source of these transfers were taken from recent restorations. Quality wise these transfer range from good to very good and it is a safe bet that the corresponding Blu-Ray release is sure to look even better.
Each film comes with two audio options, a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix in Spanish and a Dolby Digital stereo mix in Spanish. All the audio mixes sound, clean, clear and balanced. Also included with this release are removable English subtitles.
Extras on disc one include, an introduction to the film by film critic Jose Arroyo (8 minutes 50 seconds, in English) and a featurette titled Around Dark Habits (13 minutes 29 seconds, in Spanish with English subtitles).
Extras on disc two include, a trailer for What Have I Done to Deserve This? (1 minute 33 seconds, in Spanish with English subtitles) and a featurette titled Around What Have I Done to Deserve This? (10 minutes 8 seconds, in Spanish with English subtitles).
Extras on disc three include, an introduction to the film by film critic Jose Arroyo (12 minutes 42 seconds, in English) and a featurette titled Around Law of Desire (9 minutes 4 seconds, in Spanish with English subtitles).
Extras on disc four include, an introduction to the film by film critic Jose Arroyo (7 minutes 2 seconds, in English) and a featurette titled Around Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown? (13 minutes 37 seconds, in Spanish with English subtitles).
Extras on disc five include, a trailer for Kika (2 minutes 52 seconds, in Spanish with English subtitles), an interview with Pedro Almodóvar (4 minutes 45 seconds, in Spanish with English subtitles), Cast & Crew interviews (4 minutes 29 seconds, in Spanish with English subtitles), an introduction to the film by film critic Jose Arroyo (4 minutes 54 seconds, in English), three featurette’s – The Characters (16 minutes 3 seconds, in Spanish with English subtitles), The Music (11 minutes 38 seconds, in Spanish with English subtitles) and Around Kika (13 minutes 8 seconds, in Spanish with English subtitles).
Extras on disc six include, a trailer for Flower of Secret (2 minutes 12 seconds, in Spanish with English subtitles), an interview with Pedro Almodóvar (3 minutes 49 seconds, in Spanish with English subtitles), an introduction to the film by film critic Jose Arroyo (8 minutes 29 seconds, in English), Cast & Crew interviews (15 minutes 17 seconds, in Spanish with English subtitles) and a featurette titled Around Flower of Secret (13 Minutes 30 seconds, In Spanish with English subtitles).
Topics discussed in the extras include, the cast, their characters and their performances, recurring themes that appear throughout Pedro Almodóvar’s filmography, visuals, the type of characters that Pedro Almodóvar creates and why he prefers to write female characters, critical reaction and box office response to his films. Overall The Almodovar Collection brings together six films from one of Spain’s most acclaimed filmmakers and at a more than affordable price.
Note: This box set is also being released by Studiocanal on Blu-Ray.