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Film Club: Broken Embraces

New Almodovar Meets Old in New Film

The director and his muse -- Pedro Almodovar and Penelope Cruz on the set of ...

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Above: The director and his muse -- Pedro Almodovar and Penelope Cruz on the set of "Broken Embraces"


Film critics Beth Accomando and Scott Marks discuss Broken Embraces on the KPBS Film Club of the Air.


"Broken Embraces" (opened December 25 at Landmark's Hillcrest Cinemas) is the latest collaboration between Pedro Almodovar and the luscious Penelope Cruz. You can listen to our discussion on the KPBS Film Club of the Air.

DOUG MYRLAND: Scott, there was another film that you wanted to mention.

MARKS: Yeah, I wanted to mention “Broken Embraces,” because I know a lot of people are Pedro Almodovar fans. Have you seen it?


MYRLAND: And it’s Daniel Day-Lewis, right?

MARKS: No, that’s not…


MARKS: No, “Nine.”

ACCOMANDO: No. “Nine.”

MARKS: Yuchh, gut “Nine.”

ACCOMANDO: “Nine,” nein, no. No, no, no, no.

MARKS: Oh, no, no, no.

ACCOMANDO: No, no, no.

MARKS: No, no, no, no. This is Penelope Cruz.

MYRLAND: Oh, all right.

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Penelope Cruz does Audrey in "Broken Embraces"

MARKS: It’s another Pedro Almodovar thriller. Beautiful to look at. I don’t think there’s a bad shot in the film. Beautifully framed and photographed. Penelope Cruz is lovely, especially imitating Audrey Hepburn. But I think he just tries for too much in this movie and nothing connects.

ACCOMANDO: Well, what was interesting, he’s kind of at an odd point in his career in the sense that he gained a lot of international acclaim making these kind of wild comedies, extreme comedies, how ever you want to describe them. I mean, unique in style. And then he started to move into this kind of Douglas Sirk, Alfred Hitchcock kind of thriller mode. And in this film, it’s kind of the Hitchcock-Sirk thriller and then inside of it there’s a film being made that’s like the old Almodovar. And it’s kind of this over-the-top, flamboyantly designed, real bold visual look and for those of us who kind of came to him with those early films, this film straddles those two in an uncomfort…

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Sony Pictures Classics

The over the top film within a film that looks more lik ethe old Almodovar.

MYRLAND: In a good way? Not in a good way?

ACCOMANDO: In an uncomfortable way because you kind of feel like, oh, that little snippet we saw of the film within the film, I love that and I want more of that.

MYRLAND: Is this sort of like the funny Woody Allen versus the serious Woody Allen?

ACCOMANDO: A little bit.

MARKS: It’s not a bad analogy.

ACCOMANDO: Yeah, yeah.

MARKS: Especially with the fact that now Woody is trying to do Hitchcock in “Match Point” and “Cassandra’s Dream.”


MARKS: He’s – For years, he was trying to do Bergman. It’s like what – why did you take so long to do Hitchcock? You do Hitchcock quite well, better than you do Bergman.


MARKS: So, yeah, I think that’s a really good analogy.

MYRLAND: Okay. And the movie “Nine” is the one I was confused about. That’s Daniel Day-Lewis. Right?

ACCOMANDO: Please stay away from that.

MARKS: Yeah. Yeah.

ACCOMANDO: Rob Marshall directed it. He’s the one who did “Chicago.” And even though – Did “Chicago” win an Oscar?

MARKS: Oh, I think “Chicago” won Best…

ACCOMANDO: I think it did.

MARKS: …Picture.

ACCOMANDO: I think it did.


ACCOMANDO: Even though it did, that – those two films are two of the most painful film-going experiences I’ve had.

MARKS: This man should not be allowed to direct musicals. He is a terrible director when it – He’s a terrible director to begin with but when it comes to musicals, his stuff is almost unwatchable. Although I liked this more than I liked “Chicago.”


MARKS: Because at least he backed the camera up a bit and it is about movies but the music in this?

ACCOMANDO: It’s awful.

MARKS: My husband makes movies. Wow. Be Italian. That’s – this is some…


MARKS: …of the worst music…

ACCOMANDO: And Nicole Kidman is supposed to be Italian, I’m sorry.

MARKS: Oh, that was funny.

ACCOMANDO: And earthy…

MARKS: Okay.

ACCOMANDO: Sexy, Italian star.

MARKS: It did make Kate Hudson look appealing to me for the first time. I’ve never found her appealing. But with all the mascara, she looked like something out of…

ACCOMANDO: She looked like her mom.

MARKS: No, “A Single Man.” She looked like…


MARKS: …something that could’ve come out of that movie. She was very appealing but, boy, that’s not enough to get – And Sophia Loren, she looks like a catcher’s mitt. She should have Louis Vuitton stamped…


MYRLAND: Ooohhh…

MARKS: …on her butt. Oh, she does.

ACCOMANDO: Don’t say that.

MARKS: She does. That head is grafted onto another body.



MARKS: She looks like something out of the Hall of Presidents.

ACCOMANDO: Oh, stop that.

MYRLAND: Well, Scott’s blog, in case you’d like to…

ACCOMANDO: If you’d like to – you’d like to post a comment…

MYRLAND: …make a comment about that. Yes.

ACCOMANDO: How can you be mean to Sophia?

MARKS: Because she – you know – Because she should’ve learned from Cary Grant and…

MYRLAND: We – we…

MARKS: …quit while you’re ahead.

MYRLAND: We need…

MARKS: She embarrasses herself in this movie.

MYRLAND: On that note, we do need to wrap up.

MARKS: Merry Christmas, everybody.

MYRLAND: We’ve been speaking with Beth Accomando and Scott Marks. Scott’s blog is Beth is on the KPBS website. And I’m Doug Myrland in for Maureen Cavanaugh. You’ve been listening to the Film Club of the Air on These Days in San Diego.

Companion viewing: "Bad Education," "Women on the Verge of Nervous Breakdown," "Vertigo," "There's Always Tomorrow"

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