A, I agree with hengcs and you that every film ought to be seen before one makes up one's mind. That is the reason why I will definitely watch "Volver" inspite of my general indifference to Almodover's work. He might just surprise me!
I've seen "Bad Education", "Talk to Her", "All About My Mother", "Live Flesh", "Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!", "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" and "Dark Habits". So, I can't be blamed for being prejudiced to the point of refusing to see his films And, I've wanted to see "The Flower of My Secret" for sometime.
It isn't true that I disliked the films altogether. I have probably enjoyed "Dark Habits" and 'Women on the Edge of a Nervous Breakdown" the most. But, I do think that Pedro being described as one of the great living filmmakers is an exaggeration. Yes, he often makes aesthetically-pleasing entertaining films. But, I've always wondered if there's more, and I've missed it. Perhaps, I'm disappointed because he promises to explore ambiguity, then gets muddled and gives it a comfortable resolution. For instance, I found the moral ambiguity of "Talk To Her" very badly handled in the last half hour just as "Dark Habits" tries to cover similar ground, but cannot hold a candle to "Viridiana". His dark humour isn't gritty enough, his kitsch is underdone, and his sensuality and wickedness simply flirt with the hemline of middle class sensibility. It was as if he'd lost the plot and settled for the easiest escape route.
I've asked myself why I cannot swallow them as over-the-top melodramatic films. The answer I've come up with is that they pose as "arthouse" films (I don't like to demarcate arthouse and mainstream, but in Pedro's case, he seems to me to consciously using elements of the non-mainstream with a purpose), have all the recognisable trappings, but are hollow at the core. All his films promise to take risks (and I can't help feeling that he thinks its fashionable to do so) and then fall short. It is this conscious aestheticisation (the rape scene in B&W for example) sticking out like a sore thumb, that looks fake and annoys me. Just my weird take maybe!
p.s. On a less serious note, do watch the clip from Kaurismaki's press conference and his straighfaced gag at the expense of Pedro www.festival-cannes.fr/fi...a=18368667