NUMBER EIGHT on my 10-best list last year, Pedro Almodóvar's Talk reaches disc May 27, and the extras are pretty slim. No matter, you should buy it anyway, watch it whenever you're feeling lonely or broken-hearted, and have yourself a good cry. Tears figure prominently in the plot, and Almodóvar explains on the commentary track (subtitled, and shared with supporting actress Geraldine Chaplin) that star Darío Grandinetti manfully summoned his real tears for each take. He just asked for silence on the set, concentrated, and wept.
It's "a lesson on how to cry," Almodóvar continues. Prompted by Chaplin (who's at least trilingual), he also compares the soulful Grandinetti in his masculine walk and posture to John Wayne. "If I had been John Ford, I would've made him cry at least in Red River," he says. Then, correcting himself, he remembers Howard Hawks directed that film!
Unlike the torrid, campy melodramas of Almodóvar's early career, Talk is a romance, yet its real love story is between two men who never sleep together: journalist Marco (Grandinetti) and the chubby, chatty, nelly-ish nurse Benigno (Javier Cámara). Both their beloveds end up in comas at the same hospital, where the two men form their unlikely bondlike Bogie and Claude Rains in Casablanca. Talk feels relaxed and accessible, emotionally direct in a way that's finally freed from the vocabulary of other films. As the director himself says, "Here comes the new Almodóvar, loaded with emotion."
He earned his second Oscar (Best Original Screenplay) for this newfound maturity, but there's also loads of inside-moviemaking chatter between him and Chaplin on the commentary. That's Almodóvar's own country house in the scene where Caetano Veloso so beautifully sings "Cucurrucucú Paloma" (surrounded by Almodóvar's friends and former actressesincluding Marisa Paredes and Cecilia Roth from All About My Mother). And we learn that flamenco star Rosario Flores didn't want to have her hair worn back to play the striking bullfighter Lydia, because she thought it made her nose look big! Chaplin and Almodóvar agree with me: She's beautiful.
ALSO COMING TO disc May 27, Philip Seymour Hoffman in Love Liza, Richard Gere in The Mothman Prophecies, and a younger Denzel Washington in 1991's Mississippi Masala (from Monsoon Wedding director Mira Nair). The documentary Hell House takes a disturbing but not condescending look at Texas teens immersed in the show business of putting on a fundamentalist house of horrors supposed to scare visitors out of sinning. Brian Miller