Pedro Almodóvar’s Broken Embraces

A newly glitzy Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center got a taste of Madrid when a mix of cinema-loving, high-heeled New Yorkers came out for a screening of Pedro Almodóvar‘s latest effort, Broken Embraces (Los Abrazos Rotos), with the master himself and his star Penelope Cruz in attendance. Introducing the movie at the New York Film Festival, the silver-haired director had everyone sighing, first from laughs (the man is not just a brilliant filmmaker, but also very funny) and then when he asked Augustin, his brother and producer of all his films, to join him on stage and the two hugged in a moving display of fraternal love.

I had seen the movie twice already (it opened months ago in Europe) but marveled again at its many indelible moments, above all the return, albeit in a tiny role, of the glorious Rossy de Palma—beak-nosed icon, onetime model, classic Almodóvar girl and personal obsession of mine. Once the lights came on and the applause finally died down, my attention turned from the screen to people-watching. Antony Hegarty in the row behind me dropped something and apparently couldn’t find it because he was crawling on the floor and treating everyone to a generous glimpse of upper crack. Meanwhile, to my right, Salma Hayek was gushing about her love for Pedro. I wondered how she keeps her waist the size of my wrist.

Afterwards, the crowd sauntered to a glass-encased foyer, where fancy Spanish cheeses and pizza-sized omelettes (or tortilla española, a customary Iberian dish, as you should know) were served, while Penelope and Pedro entertained well-wishers and friends. I tried to tell the director how his movies have been my sole consolation during romantically challenged times, but he gallantly excused himself to walk the lady on his arm out to her car because she was ready to leave. The lady in question? Lauren Bacall. I felt like I was in a scene from All About My Mother.

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