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 “A Binary Day Top 10”

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.

Pedro Almodóvar and Antonio Banderas: Together Again

After 20 years, director Pedro Almodóvar and Antonio Banderas are reteaming for La Piel que Habito (The Skin I Live In).  Before Banderas became a Hollywood star, he worked with the Spanish auteur on a series of five films in the late 1980s: Labyrinth of Passion(Laberinto de pasiones, 1982),  Matador (1986), Law of Desire (La Ley del Deseo, 1987), Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios, 1988), and Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (¡Átame!, 1989).

Carmen Maura and Antonio Banderas in Matador

Almodóvar said on renewing the old partnership: “[Banderas is] exactly the same as when he left. From the minute he walked in, it was as if we had just finished “Tie me Up” the night before.”

La Piel que Habito , which is in active pre-production, is the story of a plastic surgeon who seeks revenge on the man who raped his daughter.

According to Almodóvar, La Piel que Habito is “a terror film, without screams or scares. It’s difficult to define and although it comes close to the terror genre — something that appeals to me that I’ve never done — I won’t respect any of its rules. It’s the harshest film I’ve ever written and Banderas’ character is brutal.”

He continues: “”I could have continued with a puerile guy with an overpowering power of seduction, but this guy [in Skin] is a real psychopath and Antonio, at 50, is perfect for this exercise is something so different from anything I’ve done until now.”

Almodóvar? Banderas? A film that is difficult to define? I am so there.

Does this news make you excited for La Piel que Habito? This is great move for Banderas, who is currently best known as the voice of Puss-in-Boots. If you have seen Banderas’ early work with Almodóvar (Matador and ¡Átame! are two of my favorite Almodóvar films), then you have just been waiting for Banderas to have a career resurgence. There is no time like the present.

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.

Los Abrazos Rotos and Vincere

I saw two competition films today, Los Abrazos Rotos (dir. Almodovar) and Vincere (dir. Marco Bellocchio).

Los Abrazos Rotos (Broken Embraces) is Spanish directors 17th feature film. It stars Penelope Cruz and Lluis Homer. Homer plays Mateo, a film director who was blinded in a car accident 14 years ago. Cruz plays his lover Lena. Like Bad Education and Talk to Her, the film is a puzzle. It is also reminiscent of Almodovar’s 1988 classic Woman on a Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, often recreating scenes from film with Lena’s character performing the role of Pena. It’s a great film, so check it out when you can.

Vincere, however, is another story. I walked out after an hour and a half. The biopic tells the story of Mussolini’s first wife, Ida Dalser, played by Giovanna Mezzogiorno. Dalser married Mussolini in 1914 but the Italian dictator denied their marriage and son. She spent much of her life confined in asylums. The film does not do this compelling story justice. It is poorly constructed with too much emphasis on found footage. It does not concretely establish the foundation of the relationship, making Ida an unsympathetic character. All in all, not worth the 30 minute wait in the rush line.