Tag Archives: Pedro Almodóvar

Coming soon….my year of the diva!

From wikipedia:

diva is a celebrated female singer; a woman of outstanding talent in the world of opera, and by extension in theatre, cinema and popular music. The meaning of diva is closely related to that of prima donna.

The word entered the English language in the late 19th century. It is derived from the Italian noun diva, a female deity.  The basic sense of the term is goddess.

(My definition includes actors, playwrights, novelists and any form of artistic expression.)

Jennifer Hudson



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And the GLOSCAR goes to……

The winners of the Babs Blabs annual film awards – The Gloscars are –




Nicolas Winding Refn – Drive


Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash – The Descendants

Actor in a leading role

Ryan Gosling – Drive (Blue  Valentine, Crazy Stupid Love, The Ides Of March)

Actress in a leading role

Judy Davis – The Eye Of The Storm

Actor in a supporting role

Christian Bale – The Fighter

Actress in a supporting role

Octavia Spencer – The Help


Cliff Martinez – Drive & Contagion


Roger Deakins – True Grit & In Time

Production Design

Jess Gonchon – True Grit & Moneyball

Costume Design

Michael O’Connor – Jane Eyre


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Pedro peels back the layers.


directed by Pedro Almodovar.

Pedro Almodovar is thankfully a prolific filmmaker, every couple of years unleashing another cinematic treat. I always look forward to the next film by ‘Almodovar’ and even when they are not ‘one of his best’, they are far better than most other films on offer. “The Skin I Live In” is no exception. Full of all the usual Almodovarian trademarks – sensational design, sensual cinematography and seductive music, alongside melodrama, mayhem and madness. His themes of yearning and loss are also intact. This time he tackles his first ‘horror’ movie and he relishes the genre, bending it and twisting it and having a lot of fun doing it. Reunited with an actor whom he can lay claim to discovering, Antonio Banderas who portrays Robert Ledgard a mad doctor in the vein of Frankenstein – a hugely successful plastic surgeon with vengeance on his mind. He is deeply affected by the death of his wife and daughter. We meet him as his obsession to create a perfect skin treatment that will revolutionise his field is revealed to his peers. Meanwhile back at his very stylish mansion on the outskirts of Toledo he has a strange young woman (his monster) in captivity, a secret experiment only known to one other, his loyal housekeeper Marilia played wonderfully by Marisa Peredes (a Pedro regular, most famously in All About My Mother) . Who is this girl? (Elena Anaya in a very touching performance) Where has she come from? Why is she here? All will be revealed in a tantalising fashion that will not disappoint any fans of the directors oeuvre. While some may argue that this movie is a lesser film, I disagree and believe that it stands high up there with many others, particularly of the “Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down” and “Kika” period. It may seem a little cold and detached but I think that is intended. Make what you will of the messages – identity being a major player, it is a moving, strange, funny, wicked and at times very creepy film well worth time spent in a darkened theatre.

“The Skin I Live In” opens in Australia on boxing day December 26.


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Betty Blue Eyes

There are so many movies being made into musicals nowadays it is ridiculous.

Over the years there have been many, lately there have been way too many. Few hits, lots of misses.

Hits like “The Producers” , “Hairspray” & “The Lion King” can bring in the bucks and the audiences, but there are more often misses – or downright flops.

Most recently a musical adaptation of Pedro Almodovar’s hit film “Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown” closed on Broadway earlier than its limited run! It was produced by a non-profit organization – The Lincoln Centre, had an all star Broadway cast (Patti Lupone, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Sherie Rene Scott & Laura Benati), still it flopped. The same composer had mini success with 2 other movie adaptations “The Full Monty” & “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” Not hits but they had decent enough runs.

“Legally Blonde” did ok, another John Water’s film adaptation “Cry Baby”, did not.  “9 to 5” flopped as did “High Fidelity”. “Xanadu” (soon to be seen in a tent production in Australia) was successful and “Mary Poppins” is a mega-hit. Even the cult documentary “Grey Gardens” managed a stage musical adaptation (semi successful).

Legally Blonde the musical

Stephanie Block, Allison Janney & Megan Hilty in the musical adaptation of “9 to 5”


Christine Ebersole & Mary Louise Wilson in their Tony winning roles in the musical of “Grey Gardens”

There are so many more to come…..

FAR FROM HEAVEN based on the brilliant Todd Hayne’s film.

LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE a US independent breakout hit and Oscar nominee (winner for Alan Arkin)

KINKY BOOTS a hit independent English film

LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE a foreign language food film hit

TO DIE FOR the breakthrough performance that made Nicole Kidman’s name as a serious actress (if you want to call her that).

in London there is a stage production of the hit film “Ghost” premiering soon with music from The Eurythmic’s Dave Stewart no less.

the list goes on and on and on.

Julianne Moore in the film version of “Far From Heaven”

Of course the all time movie adaptation flop (also based on a book) – “Carrie The Musical”. Legendary in its failure, and about to be revived finally, off-Broadway in 2012. This is one musical I would kill to see.

I chanced upon a new musical opening on the West End in March, has apparently been on the cards for a while, but first heard about it this week. It is based on one of my all time favorite English comedies, written by the brilliant Alan Bennett and starring Maggie Smith, Michael Palin, Denholm Elliott and the wonderful Liz Smith (the first film to bring her to my attention/probably most famous as Gran in the brilliant UK comedy series “The Royle Family”). The movie is “A Private Function”. It is being produced on the West End at the Novello theatre in March. The stage musical adaptation is called “Betty Blue Eyes”.

For those not familiar, it tells the delightful story of Gilbert, a chirpodist and his social climbing wife Joyce as they try to settle into a Northern London village at the time of post war rationing and the announcement of the forthcoming wedding of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip. (Handy as this is the year of another Royal Wedding – William & Kate). Together with Joyce’s senile mother they attempt to swindle the towns leading businessmen and powers that be, who have planned a banquet in honour of the royal nuptials including an illegally bred pig – Betty. Hence the title of the musical (does Betty Windsor have blue eyes?). Producer is Cameron MacKintosh (no slouch when it comes to producing musical hits). The composers  had a hand in the new songs to beef up “Mary Poppins” amongst a lot of other projects. They have been championed by MacKintosh over the years.

I hope this one is a success, it is such a good film full of English eccentricities. I do wonder how they will manage a live pig on stage – “No Pig!” let’s hope not.

The wonderful Liz Smith.


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A theatrical year (part 4 of 4)

So after my jaunt to NYC and Broadway I arrived home to attend an  MTC production of David Mamet’s “Boston Marriage”, although jetlagged I was thoroughly entertained due to the excellent cast having a very fun time, a good production all round. Made me realize that theatre, whether a hit on Broadway or a hit at home, if it is good it can take you to places of pleasure and surprise.

Margaret Mills & Pamela Rabe in MTC’s “Boston Marriage”

Then came another MTC production – a stage adaptation of Pedro Almodovar’s film “All About My Mother”. First produced at The Old Vic theatre in London. It was sadly very disappointing. Saw it a few days after opening night so I guess the cast hadn’t worked itself in, still no excuse.  Wendy Hughes was good as always, and Paul Capsis tried ever so hard to make his character work. Direction was very average and the setting of sliding screens very annoying as were weird projections. A dud in my opinion. And with the musical version of Almodovar’s “Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown” ending its flop run in NYC three weeks earlier than expected, it seems Almodovar should not be adapted – too cinematic!

Wendy Hughes – “All About My Mother”.

Next came the Magnormas Theatre company’s triptych tribute to celebrate Stephen Sondheim’s 80th birthday.

“Saturday Night”, “Merrily We Roll Along” & “Anyone Can Whistle”. The ‘flops’ and the never produced! Each having merits and flaws. Wonderful to see performed. Confirmed in my mind that my favorite Sondheim musical/score is “Merrily We Roll Along”, I love this show. Jeannie Pratt should produce it at her Production Company, especially now she has made a few bucks with “The Boy From Oz”. Whatever happened to the policy of underproduced gems being on the agenda of The Production Co. ?

Laura Fitzpatrick & Stephen Wheat in “Merrily We Roll Along”.

Finally a couple of walk outs and a bizarre tap extravaganza.

I had a few free tickets at the end of the year. Sadly cos it was free I didn’t last past interval. Why? Because i was bored and uninspired, not exceptable in theatre.

“Becky Shaw”, an independent production presented at an MTC house. A finalist for the Pulitzer prize about a blind date gone wrong – well I didn’t see second half so I can’t comment beyond a description. Dreadful acting and a leading man with a hair problem – I had to leave.

The MTC production of acclaimed Australian playwright (famed overseas) Daniel Keene’s “Life Without Me”. Good cast of actors doing the usual – nothing special. I was tired from work, and nothing new to lift me out of the lethargy. I predicted the themes and possible ending. I should not reallly comment as I never saw the second half.

MTC’s “Life Without Me”

Finally went to see a tap dance extravaganza at the National Theatre in St Kilda. The “Glam Kitten” Tap Dance Studio end of year revue. I can only describe it  as very camp and bizarre. Way too long, but lots of fun, in an odd kind of way.

So that was my very theatrical year.

Now for the top 5.

1. KATIE FINNERAN in “PROMISES, PROMISES” and stealing the show.

2. RED the play by John Logan. A play about Rothko performed by an excellent cast of 2 and a clever design.

3. MAGNORMOS SONDHEIM TRIPTYCH – Sondheim performed live is always a highlight.

4. THE DROWSY CHAPERONE (MTC) – Geoffrey Rush perfectly cast.

5. NT LIVE – the chance to see acclaimed London theatre, what a treat!



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verge of a breakdown???

The musical version of “Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown”  had its first audience preview in New York last night. The posts on the message board of broadwayworld.com indicate that the Broadway fans are not happy at all. Mind you it is the first preview, and it is coming in cold with no out of town try-out at all. I am sure there is a lot of work to do. I do hope they can pull it off, it has such promise. It will be interesting (to me) to follow the progress. These seasoned posters are a vicious opinionated bunch. If I had my way (and the money), I would love to sit in on every preview of a totally new Broadway musical, just to see how they shape it. Would be fascinating.

copywrite – Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

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upcoming Almodovar.

I am happy to report that filming has commenced in Spain on a new Pedro Almodovar film. Although, apparently on the first day of filming, the rain in Spain fell on the plain, filming was interrupted due to a downpour, causing temporary production chaos.

La Piel Que Habito (The Skin I Live In).

Reuniting with Almodovar after 20 years is Antonio Banderas in the lead role. He plays a plastic surgeon bent on revenge against the men who raped his daughter. It is based on Thierry Jonquet’s novel “Tarantula”.

Joining him in the cast is Elena Aneya (Sex & Lucia), Marisa Paredes (so good in All About My Mother), Jan Cornet, Roberto Alamo, Blanca Suárez, Eduard Fernández, José Luis Gómez, Bárbara Lennie, Susi Sánchez, Fernando Cayo and Teresa Manresa.  Almodovar’s longtime collaborators Alberto Iglesias (composer)and José Luis Alcaine (director of photography) will return.

The three month shoot will take place first in Santiago de Compostela, in the north of Spain, then move on to Pazo de Oca and finish up in Madrid and Toledo. The film has a release date in Spain of March next year, so expect it to hit Australia in December which has been the norm for an Almodovar film.

Almodovar has described his feature as bordering on an outright horror film. He  told Spanish newspaper El Pais that the film is the “harshest” he’s ever done and while 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”.

I can’t wait for this film. He is truly my favorite living film director.

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All About My Mother

Theatre Review:


Turning one of Spanish primo director, Pedro Almodovar‘s most successful movies into a theatrical play, seemed like an good idea. But with the MTC production of “All About My Mother“, I am sorry to report that it is actually not such a good idea. A very disappointing night at the theatre.

Wendy Hughes & Paul Capsis

Story revolves around Manuela (Alison Whyte), a nurse and single mother living in Madrid with her son Esteban (Blake Davis). On a fateful night to the theatre (A Streetcar Named Desire), her son is killed after being hit by a car. Off she trots to Barcelona to seek out the son’s father, also called Esteban, but now called Lola. Along the way she meets up with a transvestite prostitute (Paul Capsis), pregnant nun (Katie Fitchett), and famous diva actress (Wendy Hughes. All helping her to overcome the grief of losing her beloved child. Throw in junkies and some ribald language and you get pure Almodovar!

Almodovar’s film is full of melodrama, humour, hysteria, has a propulsive energy and is visually arresting.

The play is laboured, staged in an amateurish fashion (bring on the sliding panels, and slow mo walking), and is visually disappointing (furnished like a 70’s waiting room), are we in Spain?  I won’t talk about the hideous costumes. The acting is all over the place, along with the accents (mostly Aussie, with a few Spanish pronounciations thrown in). The humour really only appears in the second half, which I must admit was far superior to the first. The adaptation by Samuel Adamson (first performed at London’s Old Vic) incorporates monologues by the pesky dead son(why does he need to explain All About Eve?), his ghostly appearances are an add on, and oh so annoyingly distracting. Also he gives further monologues to the amusing transvestite Algrado (these work due to Paul Capsis performance, but only just). It has most of the structure of the film intact, and with it’s staging tries to make it filmic in scope. But what is the point of a direct copy? Isn’t it better just to watch the film again. I guess with all the built in melodrama, the touches of Tennessee Williams, and references to All About Eve, make it all so theatrical, perhaps that is where the idea of the adaptation came from?

There are some pleasures to be had. Paul Capsis lights up the second half, Wendy Hughes is always great to watch. The music is good (it is direct from the film). Unfortunately the pleasures do not outweigh the pain. I recommend to watch the film.

Bring on the sliding screens

Mother & Son


Presented by Melbourne Theatre Company

Director – Simon Phillips

Set Designer – Stephen Curtis

Costume Designer – Esther Marie Hayes

Now Playing at John Sumner Theatre till September 26


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