PANICKY sex, camp air stewards and a high-flying musical number can mean only one thing - Pedro Almodovar is back to his comedic best, writes Shereen Low.
Written and directed by the Spanish film-maker, with cameos from Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas, I'm So Excited! is a farcical tale about passengers and crew on a stricken Peninsular Airlines flight 2549 to Mexico. Its riotous tone is several hundred air miles away from the dark dramas of Almodovar's recent offerings, The Skin I Live In, Broken Embraces and Volver.
This is a story of some passengers who are on a plane with very serious technical problems. As they become more nervous, they have to find a solution until the plane can land, says 63-year-old.
With disaster looming, the passengers do the indecent thing. They indulge in alcohol and sex. They give themselves to a sexual orgy, says Almodovar. When most people take a flight, they have two fantasies - death and sex. These two elements are very important in this film.
All of this is done in the most sincere manner, without any prejudice.
Comedies allow you to turn a catastrophe into a party.
Almodovar, who is openly gay, is known for his quirky sense of humour, but this is his first pure comedy since 1990's Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! I was making other movies, but people kept asking me to go back to the comedy genre, he says. I wanted to go back to comedy, but I needed an idea first.
While it's all good, naughty fun, the film has a serious message behind it.
This movie is a metaphor of what's going on in Spain - going around in circles without knowing when exactly you are going to land, knowing you have to make an emergency landing, said Almodovar. This is a comedy so, of course, things end well, but this sense of uncertainty and fear, that's what we're living through in Spain at the moment.
He was inspired, not by his own experiences of flying, but through his imagination. I hope to see this movie very soon on a plane, he quips.
I don't have any fears about flying. All the flights I have been on have been boring.
Almodovar, who bought his first Super 8 camera when he was 22, made his first film, Pepi, Luci, Bom Y Otras Chicas Del Monton (Pepi, Luci, Bom and Other Girls On the Heap) in 1980.
He has won two Oscars, for 1999's All About My Mother and 2002's Talk To Her, as well as numerous other awards for his movies, an impressive feat for a European film-maker. He is responsible for bringing Banderas to the mainstream, following their first collaboration on Labyrinth Of Passion in 1982, which was the actor's big-screen debut.
Since then, he has also worked with respected Spanish actress Cruz, who has also become a good friend.
I am very lucky to find wonderful actresses and actors to work with. The relationship depends on how much time you dedicate to them, and I dedicate my life, he says.
I always dream of working with actors. That's why I wanted to be a director. So it is a pleasure and a privilege for me.
I'm So Excited! is showing at Leicester's Phoenix cinema from May 10-19.
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