It was inevitable that Pedro Almodovar's long and kinky career would eventually lead to respectability. Having spent the last quarter-century directing, his unique, poppy Spanish aesthetic began with an art-house following, but it was 1988's Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown that marked him as a leading world cinema auteur, and 1990's controversial Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! that launched him and star Antonio Banderas into the spotlight. Toning down (albeit slightly) his kitschy sensibilities, 1999's All About My Mother won a best Foreign Film Oscar, and 2002's Talk to Her got him a best Screenwriting Oscar. But with 2004's Bad Education (La Mala Educacion), Almodovar returns to his more frisky side with modest returns. Gael Garcia Bernal stars as Angel, an old friend of director Enrique Goded (Fele Martinez, modeled on Almodovar), who brings the famous filmmaker a story he wrote with hopes of starring in it. Angel used to be known as Ignacio, but he now goes by his stage-name. The film segues into Enrique's story as he reads it, which casts Angel as Zahara, a transvestite who runs into a surrogate Enrique and then confronts Father Manolo (Daniel Gimenez Cacho), the priest who molested him when he was a child. The script then flashes back to the "real" story to reveal how Ingacio and Enrique fell in love: The two met in school and it was passion at first sight, but they were kept apart by Manolo. Enrique wants to make the tale into a film, but this causes him to investigate Angel/Ignacio, only to find that he isn't whom he seems to be, while Angel uses his looks to seduce Enrique for the part of Zahara. They make the movie together, but when they are almost done, the real Father Manolo, Sr. Manuel Berenguer (Lluis Homar), explains his role in the whole sordid affair. A riff on films noir, Bad Education was a deeply personal project for the director, and biographical notes litter the film (besides the obvious alter ego, some of Almodovar's classmates allegedly were molested by priests). As such, there's a slightly unfocused feeling to the film; the noir elements are up to snuff stylistically, but it lacks a powerful denouement, which robs it of adding up to much. But while the movie is in play, Almodovar shows his mastery of both the widescreen composition and mood. Columbia TriStar presents Bad Education in anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, in Spanish with optional English subtitles. Extras include a commentary track by Almodovar in Spanish with English subtitles, two deleted scenes (5 min.), "Red Carpet Footage from the AFI Film Festival" (19 min.), "The Making of Bad Education" (2 min.), two trailers for the film itself, and bonus trailers. Keep-case.
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