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Almodovar Picks Horror Thrillers as AFI FEST Guest Artistic Director, Heads for LA

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood October 25, 2011 at 7:47AM

As you would expect, Pedro Almodovar's selection of films as guest artistic director at this November's AFI FEST is absolutely fabulous. (His current release The Skin I Live In, starring Antonio Banderas, is playing well in art houses.) Besides Almodovar's already planned screening of his own Law of Desire, which will play during AFI's Evening With Pedro Almodóvar Gala presentation on Monday, November 7, accompanied by Banderas, the flamboyant Spanish auteur's program of classic horror films and thrillers are all must-sees for any cinephile: Eyes Without a Face, (Georges Franju, 1960), Le Cercle Rouge (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1970), Nightmare Alley (Edmund Goulding, 1947) and The Killers (Robert Siodmak, 1946). And they all make perfect sense as movies that influenced Almodovar's own aesthetic.
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Thompson on Hollywood

As you would expect, Pedro Almodovar's selection of films as guest artistic director at this November's AFI FEST is absolutely fabulous. (His current release The Skin I Live In, starring Antonio Banderas, is playing well in art houses.) Besides Almodovar's already planned screening of his own Law of Desire, which will play during AFI's Evening With Pedro Almodóvar Gala presentation on Monday, November 7, accompanied by Banderas, the flamboyant Spanish auteur's program of classic horror films and thrillers are all must-sees for any cinephile: Eyes Without a Face, (Georges Franju, 1960), Le Cercle Rouge (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1970), Nightmare Alley (Edmund Goulding, 1947) and The Killers (Robert Siodmak, 1946). And they all make perfect sense as movies that influenced Almodovar's own aesthetic.

The filmmaker wrote up extensive notes to accompany each film; Law of Desire is below, along with the full program listing with descriptions.

"Law of Desire is a fundamental title in my career. Even though we made it on a very modest budget, I don't think I'd change a single shot, and not because it's perfect but because I recognize myself in all of them...It's true that my palette has darkened and, in the case of the latest film, the humor has almost disappeared. Fortunately I've changed sufficiently so that no one can accuse me of repeating myself, but I'm still the same. Law of Desire shows that." He chose the other four classic films "because in some way, albeit tangentially, they have a relationship with my present."

Law of Desire was the first film of many produced by El Deseo S.A., the production company founded by Almodóvar and his brother, Agustín. Variety's Spain-based correspondent John Hopewell will moderate a conversation about Almodóvar's career and El Deseo before the film.


GUEST ARTISTIC DIRECTOR PEDRO ALMODÓVAR'S FILM SELECTIONS

LE CERCLE ROUGE: The "red circle" of fate ensnares Alain Delon in Jean-Pierre Melville's austere masterpiece about a Paris heist gone terribly wrong. DIR Jean-Pierre Melville. CAST Alain Delon, André Bourvil, Gian Maria Volontè, Yves Montand, Paul Crauchet, Paul Amiot, Pierre Collet, André Ekyan, Jean-Pierre Posier, François Périer. France.
Saturday, November 5, 4:00 p.m., Rigler Theatre, Egyptian

EYES WITHOUT A FACE: Haunting, lyrical and elegant, EYES WITHOUT A FACE offer us Dr. Génessier (Pierre Brasseur), one of the greatest "mad doctors" in all of cinema. DIR Georges Franju. SCR Pierre Boileau, Thomas Narcejac, Jean Redon, Claude Sautet. CAST Pierre Brasseur, Alida Valli, Edith Scob, François Guérin, Juliette Mayniel, Alexandre Rignault, Béatrice Altariba, Charles Blavette, Claude Brasseur. France.
Saturday, November 5, 1:30 p.m., Rigler Theatre, Egyptian

THE KILLERS: Director Robert Siodmak turns Hemingway's six-page short story into a beautiful, tough, tragic thriller starring Burt Lancaster as an ex-boxer who can't outrun his fate. DIR Robert Siodmak. SCR Anthony Veiller from the short story by Ernest Hemingway. CAST Burt Lancaster, Ava Gardner, Edmond O'Brien, Albert Dekker, Sam Levine, Vince Barnett, Virgina Christine, Jack Lambert. USA.
Monday, November 5, 4:00 p.m., Rigler Theatre, Egyptian

LAW OF DESIRE: A 25th anniversary screening of Pedro Almodóvar's early masterpiece, a twisted love story featuring explosive performances from Antonio Banderas and Carmen Maura. DIR/SCR Pedro Almodóvar. CAST Eusebio Poncela, Carmen Maura, Antonio Banderas. Spain.
Almodóvar and Banderas will introduce the film. A conversation about Almodóvar's career, moderated by John Hopewell, Chief International Correspondent at Variety, will precede the film.
Monday, November 7, 7:00 p.m., The Chinese

NIGHTMARE ALLEY: Tyrone Power gives a mesmerizing performance as an ambitious carnival barker with a fifth-rate circus in this terrifying and moving film noir classic. DIR Edmund Goulding. SCR Jules Furthman. CAST Tyrone Power, Joan Blondell, Coleen Gray, Helen Walker, Taylor Holmes, Mike Mazurki, Ian Keith. USA.
Wednesday, November 9, 4:30 p.m., Rigler Theatre, Egyptian

This article is related to: Festivals, Genres, Thriller, Horror , Foreign


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.