In several of his films, Spanish writer/director Pedro Almodóvar indulges a riotous zaniness, including "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown," "Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!" and "Volver." His newest "I'm So Excited" only periodically achieves the heights I expect from Almodóvar, though this much slighter film still delivers a few wonderfully zany moments.
Northern New Mexico, the 1940s, finds young Antonio's family dramatically changed when Ultima comes to live her final days with them. Loved and feared, Ultima wields a supernatural power that punishes evil and rewards good. "Bless Me, Ultima" rounds out the picture with sons returning from war, Antonio's schoolmates and teachers, and Mexican American daily life.
Juxtaposing making a movie in Bolivia on Columbus' arrival in the New World with modern-day protests over water rights, Even the Rain wears its politics boldly; that is, it critiques comparable fifteenth century and 21st-century exploitation. Then, Columbus demands gold from the Indians and brutally suppresses any resistance; today, a miserly film producer takes advantage of the indigenous population.
In Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Biutiful, street-smart, ethically challenged Uxbal cares for his two children, fights with his dope-addict ex-wife, and trolls for illegal opportunities in a gritty Barcelona. Learning he has a short time to live, Uxbal tries, alternately frenetic and determined, to tie up the multiple threads of his frayed life.