Pedro Almodóvar Hub




'Los Idolos' A Drag Salute to Five Queer Icons of Color

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The minds behind Hard French are on a mission to revolutionize the dance party scene one fete at a time. The dance collective is kicking off San Francisco’s pride with Los Idolos, a love letter-cum-dance party dedicated to queer visionaries of color,

“We wanted to honor a group queer folks of color who were creative and fierce and inspiring but don't often get recognized in the (usually white gay male) mainstream histories of Pride.” Said Devon Devine, Hard French’s event producer.

The concept for Los Idolos centers around Jackie Shane, a black, genderqueer soul singer who made her mark in Toronto’s early 60s soul scene.

 

 

“Jackie Shane ties in directly to the music we DJ at Hard French,” Devine explained. “Her role in queer history is largely understated and Pride was the perfect time to bring her story to the forefront of our event.”

The party, Devine says, is meant both to inspire and remind us all of pride’s political origins. 

“'Pride' has become so commodified that we often don't remember or recognize that Pride started as a protest - fighting police for our right to exist, coming out and marching down streets to be proud of who we are.”

Watch Hard French channel their inner Grace Jones, Freddie Mercury, Josephine Baker, Juan Gabriel, and Pedro Almodóvar in a teaser video for this Sunday’s event  AFTER THE JUMP...

Grace

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Gay Iconography: Viva Pedro Almodóvar

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"Colorful" is certainly one way to describe the iconic films of openly-gay Spanish writer/director/producer Pedro Almodóvar. In a literal sense, they're vibrant, with saturated hues adding a richness to some of his best films' backdrops. But his work is also full of eccentric characters, strong women and heightened sexuality.

With more than three decades of filmmaking behind him, including two Academy Awards and countless other accolades, Almodóvar continues to produce work informed by La Movida Madrileña, a counterculture movement he helped define following the death of Francisco Franco. His oeuvre is rich with comedies, thrillers, farces and dramas, but he maintains the hallmarks of his signature style across genres. Outrageous is the norm in Almodóvar's world. There's something undeniably "queer" about his work, no matter how you define it.

Throughout his career, he has worked with a cadre of actors repeatedly, including Antonio Banderas, Penelope Cruz and Carmen Maura. This stable of familiar faces has come to define Almodóvar's work as much as his aesthetic, whether he's got them dragged out in dresses, living as a nun with AIDS or just on the verge of a nervous breakdown. 

It's difficult to choose his best work among so many masterpieces (like Talk To HerAll About My Mother or Volver, just to name a few), but we've rounded up a couple of our favorite Almodóvar moments, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Best LGBT Movie Characters of 2013

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If BEHIND THE CANDELABRA can't even find a distributor...

BY NATHANIEL ROGERS 

Have you properly reflected on the year that was as we switch numbers? I tend to make a whole month of it and haven't quite done the difficult work of trimming down my favorite 17 or so movies into that small "top ten list" box yet, so let's concentrate on movie characters for our annual tradition:

TEN BEST LGBT MOVIE CHARACTERS OF THE YEAR
*this list contains some spoilers*

Previous Years: 20122011, 2010

Queer cinema is having a rough where-to-now period. After Brokeback Mountain, an inarguable hit with nearly $200 million in worldwide box office eight long years ago, we had reason to hope that we were entering a new golden age of LGBT awareness, a true place at the table. And we were, of course -- gay marriage in Utah? Wow! -- just not onscreen. When Oscar famously denied Brokeback its rightful win who knew that it would prove such an ill omen for queer movies? Almost immediately afterwards, gay mainstream filmmaking fell into swift decline. The contributing factors are complicated and well-theorized about but it's led to a dearth of gay films in movie theaters -- you know you're in trouble when no one wants to distribute Steven Soderbergh's Liberace biopic BEHIND THE CANDELABRA (reviewed) which came with easy marketing hooks and major stars.

Screen shot 2013-12-31 at 6.01.16 PMWhile complex gay characters get good play on TV, mainstream movies are a weirder place for gays. Consider Catherine Zeta Jones's evil lesbian psychiatrist in Steven Soderbergh's Side Effects, who would have provided a juicy clip for The Celluloid Closet (1995) had she appeared in an older movie, or disposable characters like the butler The Wolf of Wall Street whose purpose in the movie seems to be... what exactly? The (comic) gaybashing adds nothing to the film.

Special Mention: I'm dedicating this list to two movies I missed that friends have sworn by. The acclaimed Cuban feature UNA NOCHE, currently available for instant streaming on Netflix, has a gay subplot I've only heard good things about and my friend Glenn swears by Xavier Dolan's LAURENCE ANYWAYS, a three hour epic about a transgendered woman born "Laurence" (delicious Frenchman Melvil Poupaud) and her girlfriend "Fred" (Suzanne Clement). My apologies also to sadfaced YOSSI (Ohad Knoller) but the Yossi & Jagger (2002) magic just wasn't there in his titular sequel.

 THE LIST IS AFTER THE JUMP...

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Weekend Movies: 'I'm So Excited' and 'The Heat'

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meet our friendly eager crew-ewww ♫ They only live to service you-ooo 

BY NATHANIEL ROGERS 

Here's a film you'll never see on an airplane. Pedro Almodóvar's latest, I'M SO EXCITED!, takes place (almost) entirely aboard an airplane like some lost "bottle episode" of an aborted Almodóvarian sitcom. But the stewards and pilots are less concerned with fastening your seat belt than unzipping your pants and more interested in spiking drinks than pouring them. It's arrived just in time for Gay Pride Weekend and what great timing; this is by far the gayest thing Pedro has done since Bad Education (2004) in which Gael García Bernal famously both tucked his junk for drag duties and showed it off in wet underwear poolside.

I think it was the internet critic David Poland (of Movie City News fame) who dubbed that earlier film "fag noir" and took some heat for that but I personally don't think Almodóvar would have minded. In fact, for a long time I miscredited the tag to Pedro himself. Pedro's characters are often outrageously hedonistic from nympho nuns to homicidal hotties to transgendered hookers and even the sanest among them act on melodramatic or comic impulse without shame or apology. In short, to appropriate a quote from Rich Juzwiak they're 'as faggy as they want to be'. And that's just the ladies!

I bring up this divisive language because Almodóvar, despite his celebrated global rise as a world class auteur -- those Oscar wins for All About My Mother (1999's Best Foreign-Language Film) and Talk To Her (2002's Best Original Screenplay) in the early Aughts marked his peak -- has never and will never win fans among the easily offended or anyone who flinches at the queeniest moments in gay pride parades. 

MORE AFTER THE JUMP...

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New Pedro Almodovar Film 'I'm So Excited' Features Mid-Flight Diva Breakdown: VIDEO

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Pedro Almodovar's next film I'm So Excited (originally titled Los Amantes Pasajeros) takes place aboard an airplane traveling to Mexico City. When the flight encounters trouble, the passengers begin to confess their innermost secrets.

If you're an Almodovar fan, or even if you're not, the teaser may get you very excited.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Movies: Identity Crises with Antonio Banderas, Glenn Close and Marilyn Monroe

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Pedro Almodóvar And His Latest Plaything from "The Skin I Live In"

GuestbloggerNATHANIEL ROGERS
...would live in the movie theater but for the poor internet reception. He blogs daily at the Film Experience. Follow him on Twitter @nathanielr.

 
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This weekend at the multiplex it's the battle of the 80s remakes with sci-fi horror film THE THING (previously in theaters in 1982) vs. "everybody cut everybody cut" dance drama FOOTLOOSE (previously in theaters in 1984). The latter proudly and absurdly waves a "this is our time" tagline despite being a remake of another generation's touchstone.

Skin-tiemeupBut no matter. The only one that truly matters is Pedro Almodóvar's new gem THE SKIN I LIVE IN. While it's not quite on the level of his five masterworks (Law of Desire, Women on the Verge...All About My Mother, Talk To Her, and Volver if you ask me) very few films are. Second tier Almodóvar is still better than most movies made in any given year. For his latest he's reunited with his only male muse Antonio Banderas for their sixth film together and their first since Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1990) in which sexy Antonio held a beautiful woman prisoner until she loved him. Twenty-one years later and Antonio is up to his old Stockholm Syndrome tactics again. This time he's a brilliant cold plastic surgeon and the woman he's holding captive (Elena Anaya) seems to be a semi-willing guineau pig in a series of illegal surgeries which will give her flawless new skin. But why does he keep her locked up? What exactly happened to the surgeon's wife and daughter who are nowhere to be seen? How long has this been going on? 

Like most Almodóvar films this one is novelistic with intriguing details that could make their own movies, has themes of identity and sexuality that are of interest to LGBT audiences, features smartly executed twists which bring the story into perverse focus, and wows with stunning imagery including simple but freakishly haunting costumes from Paco Delgado (with an assist from Jean Paul Gaultier). I hate to quote Peter Travers from Rolling Stone since his whole raison d'etre as a film critic is to be quoted but they used to promote Pedro's movies with this blurb:

"Pedro Almodóvar doesn't just make movies. Almodóvar is the movies."

A more succinct and correct appraisal I've rarely read.

BONUS SCENES

 roadDid you know they had personal trailers in the 19th century? How else to explain Aaron Johnson's physique in Albert Nobbs?

More identity crises AFTER THE JUMP...

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