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Pedro Almodovar remembers Spain's glory days with 'I'm So Excited!'

Director Pedro Almodovar talks about how his latest, "I'm So Excited!," is his lament for the thrill of the '80s, and how things have gotten worse.

Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with the plane-set "I'm So Excited!" Credit: Getty Images Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with the plane-set "I'm So Excited!"
Credit: Getty Images

Pedro Almodovar is the first to admit that his latest film, "I'm So Excited!," is something of a throwback — and he means it in the best possible way. "I'm conscious that this is almost the opposite movie of 'The Skin I Live In' or 'Broken Embraces' or 'Volver.' It's very much dedicated to the '80s, when I started making movies," he says. The film charts a disastrous discount flight, with each passenger dealing their telenovela-worthy personal baggage that's meant to satirize modern-day Spain.

So why the return to brightly colored farce and melodrama? "I think I wanted to recover my youth or recover that kind of explosion of freedom that we experienced in Spain and in Madrid after [Francisco] Franco died," he says. "And really for me, at the end of filming I realized that it was a tribute that I made to that decade — not to my career, but to Spain in the '80s. Spain has changed a lot for the worse, for much worse now. I mean, the whole world has changed. I think I missed that atmosphere."

Now, about that title. The English-language version of the film gets its name from the Pointer Sisters' hit that the three flight attendants lip-sync to in an attempt to entertain their passengers when the flight starts to go bad. "'I'm So Excited' fit very well for many reasons," Almodovar explains. "On one hand it is an iconic disco song. [The characters] are very queen-y, so they like very much that type of song. And also it was a song that has not been used too much in movies, because there are many. For example, I didn't think about 'I Will Survive.' It's too overused."

The film's original title is "Los Amantes Pasajeros," but Almodovar couldn't get the same double meaning out of it in English that it had in Spanish. "'Passengers' is someone that travels as well as something that is fleeting," he says. "It's important, these two meanings. And also because in Spanish, 'excited' is like here as something that implies enthusiasm, but also it implies sexual arousal."

While Pedro Almodovar might offer up one of the most melodramatic flights ever in "I'm So Excited," his actual experience with airplanes is much more staid. "I have to fly a lot, more than I want, but I'm a very dull passenger," he admits. "I don't speak, I don't have sex; no alcohol and I don't do drugs."

Instead of an opportunity for raucous misbehaving, the filmmaker sees his time on a plane as a kind of sanctuary. "The thing that I like about flying is that I find it very easy to concentrate," he says. "Many ideas for my movies came from these moments where I'm not anywhere specifically in terms of time and space. You are like suspended, and this suits me very well, so I enjoy very much writing while on planes."

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