• Dazed and Confused

    Dazed and Confused

    ★★★★½

    "Dazed and Confused" is to Richard Linklater what "American Graffiti" was to a pre-"Star Wars" George Lucas: a near-accurate depiction of their respective generation's youth culture and outlook on transitioning into adulthood. In the former's case, it's about capturing late Boomer/early Gen X teenhood within the Austin, TX suburbs.

  • Slacker

    Slacker

    ★★★★

    "Slacker" is the equivalent of a long-winded conversation you have with a close friend. Intellectually stimulating as that discussion can be, you can easily lose yourself in the passage of time and question the purpose of what you just heard. But sometimes, forgetting to live in the waking moment every now and then is part of the human condition.

  • Spy Kids

    Spy Kids

    ★★★★

    "Spy Kids" is Robert Rodriguez's DIY approach to visual storytelling at its most delightfully imaginative (and often kitschy). Enthralling action, psychedelic imagery, and familial heart are three vital components that make his debut within the family-oriented market a winning feature in its own right.

  • Pain and Glory

    Pain and Glory

    ★★★★★

    "Pain and Glory" is as close to a heartfelt, autobiographical reflection of Almodóvar's life and career as he'll ever get. Through Antonio Banderas's performance as a filmmaker nearing his twilight years do we see the former reconcile with his past, face his inner demons, and constantly struggle with the existential dread looming over him as he ages.

  • The Human Voice

    The Human Voice

    ★★★★★

    Almodóvar's short adaptation of "The Human Voice" speaks to the poetic sophistication embedded in his melodramas, particularly the ones released at the height of his mainstream popularity like "All About My Mother," "Talk to Her," and "Volver." The film is also a testament to him as an auteur whose oeuvre consistently improves with age.

  • Julieta

    Julieta

    ★★★★

    If "Julieta" doesn't subvert Almodóvar's formula for telling stories of interfamilial melodrama, then it's a testament to how his execution remains consistent with age. He's not afraid to handle themes of tragedy and grief with utmost humanity, nor sacrifice his vibrant imagery to set a somber tone and atmosphere.

  • Volver

    Volver

    ★★★★½

    Until the climax, you almost assume "Volver" would devolve into the absurdist camp of Almodóvar's early works. But thanks to his organic subversion of the audience's expectations and the stellar performances of his frequent collaborating actresses (i.e. Penelope Cruz and Carmen Maura), the movie is able to stand out as yet another highlight in his Era of Melodrama.

  • Bad Education

    Bad Education

    ★★★★½

    "Bad Education" packs in double the number of twists and turns than Almodóvar's early thrillers (i.e. "Law of Desire" and "Matador"), yet almost never becomes convoluted from start to finish. Dizzying, yes. But it's the movie's meticulously layered storytelling that justifies his reputation as being one of Spain's most acclaimed auteurs.

  • Starship Troopers

    Starship Troopers

    ★★★★

    Tucked underneath the gory blockbuster action exterior of "Starship Troopers" is a razor-sharp satire on how America's patriotic allegiance to our armed forces can pose a toxically authoritarian influence on the soldiers in combat. Knowing the hell and back we've endured these past five to six years, it should come as no surprise how well this film has held up.

  • She's Gotta Have It

    She's Gotta Have It

    ★★★★

    Through the culturally insightful lens of then-newcomer director Spike Lee, "She's Gotta Have It" transcends its cookie-cutter romantic dramedy premise to a point where the movie can simultaneously cement its legacy as a landmark of independent American cinema and modern African American-oriented cinema. Rough around the edges, yet as only Lee knows how.

  • All About My Mother

    All About My Mother

    ★★★★★

    "All About My Mother" encapsulates Pedro Almodóvar's visual storytelling at its most profoundly mature: his near-sublime balance of heart-wrenching melodrama, sincere gravitas from the performances of his actors, and a thematically resonant depiction of feminist and transgender values. By far among his best of the best.

  • High Heels

    High Heels

    ★★★½

    The degree of campy melodrama in "High Heels" often poses a detriment to its grasp of familial dynamics and some scenes are pointless filler. But Abril and Paredes's tour de force performances contribute an adequate amount of pathos to render what is often deemed one of Almodóvar's weakest films watchable (at the very least).