2007_04_arts_volverdvd.jpgVolver (directed by Pedro Almodóvar): Spanish auteur Pedro Almodóvar has a thing for lushness. He saturates his movies with rich colors, explosive patterns, larger-than-life characters and don't get us started on his fascination with star Penélope Cruz's bosom. For an openly gay filmmaker, Almodóvar really does relish that contemplative over-head down-the-shirt shot. While women and their relationships has often been a central theme in Almodóvar's previous work (in All About My Mother and Women On The Verge of A Nervous Breakdown, for instance), he takes his subject matter even more seriously in this tale of a dutiful daughter with a dangerous teenager, her kooky hairdresser sister [pictured], their undead mother, the elderly aunt, and the nosy neighbor. You don't want to see the story of this sextet of fabulously flawed women struggling to live in a man's world end, it's all so compelling and enchanting.

While it's wonderful to see Almodóvar working again with the always excellent, aging diva Carmen Maura (she plays Cruz's mom who returns from the grave to care for her daughters), the real tour-de-force performance in this stellar ensemble comes from Cruz. After her tabloid "romance" with Tom Cruise and a string of lame English language movies, it was easy to forget why Cruz was such a huge star in Spain. But seeing her perform in her native language within Almodóvar's stylized vision, she seems entirely at home and worthy of her Oscar nomination for this role. Re-watching this movie on the small screen at home, you can't help but get excited contemplating the director and his muse's further proposed collaborations.

Other notable DVDs hitting shelves this week included Robert DeNiro's CIA spook fest The Good Shepherd, the faux-cumentary about G.W.B's assassination Death of a President, and box sets for TV obsessives such as Law and Order: Season Five, Entourage: Season Three, and Twin Peaks: Season Two.