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.

Continue reading

About these ads

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.

30 Day Film Challenge: Day 26

Your Favorite Foreign Language Film

Pedro Almodóvar is one of my favorite directors. I have seen every one of his films and choosing a favorite is nearly impossible. I tend to gravitate towards his films that are not melodramatic works about female solidarity (as much as I love Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, High Heels and Volver). For that reason, Matador stands out the most to me. On one level it is a completely twisted movie, on another it is an exploration of freedom and desire. I just love this movie.

In Which I Freak Out Over The Skin I Live In Teaser Trailer

The teaser trailer for Pedro Almodóvar’s latest film The Skin I Live In (La Piel Que Habito) has left me with a feeling of pure bliss and giddiness. I am smiling from ear to ear.

The brief appearance of Antonio Banderas coupled with the mere glimpses of what will (hopefully) be a commentary on how we alter the human body and a touch of psychological melodrama as only Almodóvar can do it just makes me swoon. (Almodóvar has described The Skin I Live In as a horror film but I hardly believe that he is capable of making a film without a little bit of melodrama.)

The 30-second clip immediately reminds me of Matador (1986), Laws of Desire (1987) and The Flower of My Secret (1995). Whatever it ends up evoking and getting at, The Skin I Live In is bound to be just as self-referential and fascinating as every previous Almodóvar film.

Needless to say, I’m intrigued and can’t wait to here the buzz from Cannes.

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?

A Binary Day Top 10

Since it is October 10, 2010, I feel inspired to write some sort of top ten list. About what though, I’m wasn’t quite sure at first. I could, as my friend Kim, write about the top ten worst sequels. But that would require me to have seen certain sequels. I even considered writing about movies that have something to do with numbers. Of course, that means I would have to include A Beautiful Mind, a film I detest so that list just was not happening.

Then it dawned on me. This past week, I began going through my first blog posts and editing them. I’ve noticed, among other things, that my writing skills were horrible, my proofreading skills were lacking, and every movie was one of my favorites. I had a severe inability to dislike or critique anything. Today things are different. At least I hope four years of college and a Film Studies degree have noticeably improved the quality of this blog.

In the over five years since I have been a blogger, I have never written a definitive top ten list of my favorite movies. I’ve posted and commented on plenty of other movie lists but never my own. I have my reasons. “Joanna, what are your ten favorite movies?” is a question I hate to answer because it puts me on the spot to think of something creative and insightful. On top of that, my cinematic interests and thus my list is are always changing. What I loved years ago, I could rewatch and hate today. With all of this in mind, here it is. My top ten favorite movies and why I love them.
Continue reading

Almodóvar’s Broadway Arrival

Pedro Almodóvar’s unmatched body of work is receiving what can either be considered an ultimate sign of respect or a risk-filled move - a Broadway musical adaptation.

Almodóvar’s 1988 Gazpacho-laced screwball classic Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, adapted for the stage by director Bartlett Sher, book writer Jeffrey Lane and composer and lyricist David Yazbek, began preview performances on October 8 and will open on November 4.

Almodóvar, unsurprisingly and necessarily so, has been involved with the project since 2005. The director, known for his meticulous attention to the smallest details, broke down the 90-minute film for the creative team, shot by shot, frame by frame. (That’s a conversation I would have killed to sit in on.)

Women on the Verge tackles a theme prevolent in nearly every one of Almodóvar’s seventeen films: how women exist in the world when they have been adandoned by men. But how female solidarity comes to be in these films – and now musical adaptation - is most intriguing.  In Women on the Verge, female solidarity is the result of pure madness and hilarity. The musical takes place over two days while Pepa (played by two-time Tony nominee Sherie Rene Scott) attempts to reveal a secret to her womanzing boyfriend, Ivan (Brian Stokes Mitchell). Patti LuPone stars as Lucia, a woman who has been in a mental hospital ever since her husband left her; she returns to enact her revenge. Not to mention terrorists, gazpacho and wild motocyclists all play central roles in Women on the Verge.

All the necessary pieces seem to be in place – a proven creative team, a stellar cast, and even the guidance of the auteur himself. Still the question remains: Is the Broadway stage really big enough for Almodóvar?

So far the answer might be yes. The challenges that exist with adapting a Spanish-language film for audiences most likely unfamiliar with Almodóvar’s work are monumental. The amount of planning and depth that goes into an Almodóvar production is astounding and this has generated technical challenges for the production.

In spite of the obvious challenge of this musical to Broadway, what makes Women on the Verge a fascinating adaptation is that this film has been revisited by Almodóvar in 2009′s Broken Embraces. It will exciting to see how creative minds other than Almodóvar approach his work.

Tickets for Womeon on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown are on sale now.