Pedro Almodóvar is one of those directors who leaves a mark. His movies showcase melodrama, humor, color, pastiche, and sexuality. Almodóvar has been challenging the boring studio system since he burst on the scene.
He recently told IndieWire, “It’s kind of a contradiction. Hollywood wants to bring in outside talent, but they don’t always let them do what they want to do.”
Now in his 70s, Almodóvar has been doing what he wants for a while.
Hollywood has come calling. There were talks he would direct Brokeback Mountain before Ang Lee, but his vision for the movie never came to be. Part of the reason was how much control Almodóvar wanted.
“I think Ang Lee made a wonderful movie, but I never believed that they would give me complete freedom and independence to make what I wanted,” Almodóvar said. “Nobody told me that—they said, ‘You can do whatever you want,’ but I knew that there was a limitation.”
Almodóvar wanted to take things much further than what we got, saying, “The relation between these two guys is animalistic. It was a physical relationship. The punch of the movie comes when they have to separate, and Heath Ledger discovers that he can’t think about leaving. That’s a strong discovery. But until that moment, it is animalistic, and for me it was impossible to have that in the movie because it was a Hollywood movie. You could not have these two guys fucking all the time.”
While that movie never happened, he has his own western short film he's shooting with Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal, which promises to answer a vision he had long ago. The movie is called Strange Way of Life and while we don't have a lot of plot details, Almodóvar has said Ethan Hawke will play a sheriff named Jake, and Pedro Pascal will play a gunslinger named Silva. After years apart, they come together, rekindling something they haven't felt in 25 years.
Almodóvar said, “So one of them travels through the desert to find the other. There will be a showdown between them, but really the story is very intimate.”
So is this a romance and a western?
Almodóvar says, “You can guess, I mean, masculinity is one of the subjects of the movie.”
This is an intriguing storyline, and one it seems like only Almodóvar can do, because he's not reliant on a U.S. studio system. As he says, “In the U.S., there are many people with power you have to listen to. But here in Spain, I don’t listen to anyone.”
This kind of auteurism is not widely available in the United States, and you have to play by the rules of the people with the money. These rules are what kept Almodóvar away, making movies in Spain where he can execute his artistic vision.
I know I'll be looking forward to his new project. Let me know what you think in the comments.