THINK Pedro Almodovar to start the year.
Not only does the Spanish director's remarkable "Bad Education" (see my top-10 list for 2004 on Page 36) open Jan. 14, his most recent films (through the 1990s) will be shown in a mini retrospective at the American Film Institute's Silver Theatre through Feb. 20.
The series opens Thursday at 7:05 with the 2002 "Talk to Her," a great film about a nurse (Javier Camara) named Benigno and his devotion to a comatose woman named Alicia (Leonor Watling) in the hospital. Benigno believes wholeheartedly that Alicia hears him, that their souls communicate and that he may just coax her out of the darkness.
He crosses destinies with Marco (Dario Grandinetti), a journalist whose girlfriend, Lydia (Rosario Flores), is a bullfighter also lying in a coma in the same hospital. To Marco, who's despondent about his girlfriend, who has been declared brain dead, Benigno has one piece of advice: "Talk to her."
The film, which also features Paz Vega from James L. Brooks's "Spanglish," screens again Jan. 9 at 1:05.
The other films are further testament to Almodovar's obsession with love seen from unusual perspectives, and feature a colorful array of characters, from bullfighters to transsexuals. In his work, there is never any doubt as to who is behind the camera. And his manner of storytelling becomes addictive. Seen one Almodovar, you have to see them all.
The remaining films, which all follow the same screening schedule (Thursdays at 7:05, the following Sundays at 1:05), are: "The Flower of My Secret (1996)," which screens Jan. 13 and 16; "All About My Mother" (1999), Jan. 20 and 23; "Live Flesh" (1997), Jan. 27 and 30; "Kika" (1993), Feb. 3 and 6; "Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!" (1990), Feb. 10 and 13; "High Heels" (1991), Feb. 17 and 20. The AFI also has plans, as yet unconfirmed, to show "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" in late February or early March. Admission for AFI films is $8.50. The Silver Theatre is at 8633 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring. Call 301-495-6720 or visit www.AFI.com/silver for more details.
CELEBRATING GOULD'S GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY
Sunday marks the 50th anniversary of legendary Canadian pianist Glenn Gould's U.S. premiere at the Phillips Collection. And on the same day, the Canadian Embassy and AFI Silver Theatre present three Canadian documentaries about the remarkable piano composer, performer and musical scholar. The program begins at 1:05 with two half-hour shorts from 1959, "Glenn Gould: Off the Record" and "Glenn Gould: On the Record," both of which were directed by Wolf Koenig and Roman Kroitor. Those are followed by 1998's "Glenn Gould: The Hidden Genius," a 50-minute film made by David Langer and Paul McGrath. The Washington Post's Tim Page will lead a discussion of Gould afterward. The screening will repeat Monday at 7:05, with Page scheduled to appear again. It's open to the general public. Admission is $8.50. Call 301-495-6720 or visit www.AFI.com/silver for more details.
-- Desson Thomson