Liner Notes: Concha Buika in The Skin I Live In

After months of anticipation, I caught a screening of Pedro Almodóvar’s latest film The Skin I Live Friday night. Like many of his previous films, The Skin I Live In tackled betrayal, deception, strained familial relations, sexual identity, and death in the twisted fashion that I have come to expect from an Almodóvar film. (For a more straightforward review of The Skin I Live In, read my friend Diana’s post. We took a class on Almodóvar back in the day and saw The Skin I Live In with another friend from our class. Mount Holyoke film studies forever!)

Antonio Banderas, in his sixth collaboration with Almodóvar, Banderas plays Robert, a plastic surgeon who has discovered a type of skin that can withstand any sort of damage. He claims that he made this discovery while using mice as test subjects. In actuality Robert has performed countless experimental procedures on a mysterious patient named Vera (Elena Anaya), who he keeps locked away in his spacious Toledo estate with the help of loyal servant Marilia (Marisa Paredes). Who is this patient? Through a series of flashbacks, the dark and sadistic way Vera ended up Robert’s patient is revealed.

I found several aspects of this film to be fascinating. Antonio Banderas’ performance, which one critic compared to Cary Grant in Alfred Hitchcock’s films, is wonderfully creepy. Almodóvar’s approach to rape, gender identity, and female relationships is once again prevolent in The Skin I Live In. And then there is the loyal yet possessive maternal figure and the use of the Spanish countryside in this film compared to his other films set in cities. All of this works to contributes to what is Almodóvar’s first real horror film of sorts. (I personally cringe any time I see shots of axes, needles, and other tools, even if they are oddly beautiful, thanks to Almodóvar.)

A scene of personal interest is when Robert and his daughter Norma attend a wedding. Within this scene there are two songs performed by Spanish singer Concha Buika and I was immediately struck by her presence.

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Why I’m Eagerly Anticipating The Skin I Live In

I’m ridiculously giddy to see Pedro Almodóvar’s The Skin I Live In, which is why I’m writing this rather pointless post about how excited I am. My giddiness can’t be contained!

Almodóvar’ is one of my favorite directors. Thanks to a college seminar on the director (without it I don’t think I would feel remotely comfortable assesing any of his films), I can usually find something to love in all of his movies. Except Live Flesh. No one likes Live Flesh.

But I may also be one of the rare filmgoers who doesn’t fervently love Almodóvar’s female-centric movies. I don’t love All About My Mother, Women on the Verge of the Nervous Breakdown, or even Volver. (Sorry Diana.) I just strongly like and admire them.

I prefer Almodóvar’s films when they are complicated, dark, mysterious, and so twisted they make my head spin. And especially when you can’t descibe them in a few choice adjectives. The Skin I Live In looks like just that. More than anything, the draw of The Skin I Live In for me is Antonio Banderas. The actor has reteamed with Almodóvar after 22 years. Sure, Banderas is a big Hollywood star these days (ironically Puss in Boots, the prequel to Shrek, is being released Oct. 28) but Banderas is always at his best with Almodóvar.

Basically, I’m pumped. I’m going to see The Skin I Live In with my friends from my Almodóvar seminar. We’re going to geek out and be hardcore Almodóvar snobs. It’s going to be great.

Oh, and Antonio Banderas appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live last week to promote The Skin I Live In. The interview is rather uneventful but Banderas gives us some tidbits about what to expect from this movie. And someone once told Pedro Almodóvar he wouldn’t make it as a director. Doesn’t it always happen that way?

Are you as excited for The Skin I Live In as I am? Sound off below.

Poster Fix: The Skin I Live In (dir. Pedro Almodóvar, 2011)

The poster for Pedro Almodóvar’s The Skin I Live In (La Piel Que Habito) has been released. I am already in love. The poster, which to me looks like the cover of a romance novella,  is so Almodóvar.

The Skin That I Inhabit, which releases in September, reunites the Spanish director with his old collaborator Antonio Banderas. Before Banderas made it big in Hollywood, he starred in five Almodóvar films: Labyrinth of Passion, Laws of Desire, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! and, my personal favorite, Matador.

Banderas plays a plastic surgeon obsessed with finding the men who raped his daughter. It is a horror story based on Thierry Jonquet‘s novel Mygale. I expect the film to tackle many of the same themes (sex, death, misogyny) seen throughout Almodóvar’s work. I am also intrigued by how Almodóvar will present the father-daughter relationship. Father figures are noticeably absent in his films in favor of female solidarity. Needless to say, I am intrigued and excited.

What are your thoughts on the poster and Almodóvar’s upcoming film?

Trailer Fix: Broken Embraces


The Guardian has the first exclusive English language trailer of Pedro Almodovar’s latest film Broken Embraces. You can watch the trailer here.

I saw Broken Embraces in May when I was at the Cannes Film Festival and absolutely loved it. Any Almodovar fan will absolutely love Broken Embraces. However, if you have only seen his more recent and best known works (Volver, Talk to Her, All About My Mother), then this probably is not the ideal Almodovar film for you.

Check out the trailer and tell me what you think.

The Always Amazing Pedro Almodovar Bashes Hollywood

Other than being an brilliant and renowned filmmaker (All About My Mother; Talk to Her; Bad Education; Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown), Pedro Almodovar just made these comments, which makes me love him even more.

Almodovar Rules Out Move to Hollywood

Director Pedro Almodovar has crushed speculation he plans to quit his native Spain for Hollywood.

The maverick moviemaker, responsible for films such as Volver and Bad Education, feels he is too old now to change his ways and that the Hollywood method of working would not suit him.

He says, “I’m an artist. I’m part of every decision in a movie. This is not how they work in Hollywood. There the director is part of the crew, not the main creator. I’m too old to change now. I wouldn’t know how to do it.”

The director also laments the worsening standard of Hollywood screenwriting, adding, “They forget the most important thing is the script, and the scripts get weaker and weaker. Technical effects advance, but the literary quality is worse.”

I love him! His films typically center around women and their relationships. (Plus if there is one reason why I take Penelope Cruz seriously, it’s because of his movies). Also, if there is anyone who understands and appreciates good screenwriting, it’s Pedro Almodovar. In 2003, he won the Best Original Screenplay Academy Award for Talk to Her, not to mention the Best Screenplay Award he picked up at this year’s Cannes Festival for  his next feature, Volver.

Volver, starring Penelope Cruz, releases in the US on Novemeber 3. It’s already generating major buzz, with Almodovar, Cruz, and the film possibly receiving nominations. I can’t wait.