PAIN AND GLORY sees director Pedro Almodovar still in peak form in this highly personal film about a successful filmmaker, Salvador (Antonio Banderas) in his autumn years. A revival screening of an old movie, “Sabor” with the invitation for him and his main actor to attend a Q &A awakens skeletons in the closet. The film intercuts his life as a child with his loving mother (Penelope Cruz) and his first male desire in the form of an older teen, Eduardo (César Vicente) he educates in reading, writing and in mathematics.
PAIN AND GLORY is most similar to Almodovar’s best film LA MALA EDUCACION (BAD EDUCATION) with similar scenes like young boys bathing in the river and the influence on cinema on the protagonist as well as first love. The young boys were under the watch of Catholic priests, one of which is a pedophile. In PAIN AND GLORY, the river scene has Penelope Cruz, looking as beautiful as ever, washing her sheets in the river with other women and her son. She is singing what could be a traditional country Spanish song in a scene that the protagonist, Salvador reminisces of.
PAIN AND GLORY draws from the work and life of director Almodovar and could be describe as an autobiographical film. It can be described as several vignettes put together to form a story.
What is most inspirational about Almodovar movies, are that most of his movies are about the love of cinema. In LA MALA EDUCACION, the two male lovers first met as kids in a cinema. In PAIN AND GLORY, it is all about Salvador and his films. At the film’s start, Salvador confesses he has just watched and was moved by his second watching of his film “Sabor”. That is so true that watching a film a second viewing brings forth much more that was miss the first time. Salvador also confesses that his lead actor’s performance seems much better than it was 30 years ago.
The film’s best parts are those involving Salvador’s sexual awakening – when as a boy he places his hand over Eduardo’s, the one he is teaching how to write, or how the Eduardo trips don to wash, totally nude.
Director Almodovar splashes his colours again in this film. He transforms the dull cave Salvador lived in as a kid into whitewashed walls with colours in the curtains and tiles.
What is most marvellous is the way Almodovar shows the beauty in life and how life dishes it out. Being poor, he had to go to a seminary on a scholarship to earn his A Levels diploma. But there, he is pulled out to sing in the choir because of his beautiful voice and given passing grades in his subjects without learning anything. Yet, when he became a filmmaker, his knowledge came from other means. But now as an ageing filmmaker with physical and emotional ailments, Salvador must find himself again.
Salvador is constantly sick with ailments like migraines (Almodovar has them too), back pain and others. Almodovar’s deeply personal work is extremely moving and he is able to arouse the audience to feel the pain suffered by Salvador. Banderas won the Best Actor prize at Cannes for his portrayal of Salvador and the actor playing Salvador’s first desire is the hottest thing seen this year at TIFF.
PAIN AND GLORY has the best joke that would not be noticed by the majority of the audience. I would call it Almodovar’s personal joke. Which is really funny. When the boy faints in the middle of the film, his mother and Eduardo think it is due to the sun and possibly a minor heat stroke. But the reality is that the boy fainted after seeing Eduardo’s big penis.
I first viewed PAIN AND GLORY at TIFF and now a second time. The film survives a viewing proving that it is layered, brilliantly and an overall excellent film.
This 3D computer animated film began in 2010 as a Tim Burton stop motion animation feature project. After several revisions, it was decided and finalized in 2017 to have directors Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan direct a new film with a revised screenplay. As everyone already knows, this is not the first adaptation of the ADDAMS FAMILY since the beloved TV series. At present, I cannot remember all the previous film adaptations, they being released quite some time back.
The best of the ADDAMS FAMILY’s is as most people will agree, the TV series with John Astin as Gomez and Carolyn Jones as Morticia. This latest version clearly attempt to re-create the atmosphere and feel of the TV series, which it succeeds, but only to a point.
The premise of the film is The Addams family’s move to New Jersey. Their lives begin to unravel when they move to New Jersey and face-off against the 21st century and its greedy, arrogant and sly reality TV host Margaux Needler while also preparing for their extended family to arrive for a major celebration.
The film begins with the wedding of of Gomez (Oscar Isaac) and Moritica (Charlze Theron). Their celebration is interrupted by angry town folk who want to get rid of monsters from their town, a scene familiar to the classic FRANKENSTEIN story. So there is the move to New Jersey – never mind the explanation how come the two children Pugsley (Finn Wolfhard) and Wednesday (Chloë Grace Moretz) are suddenly grown up.
The film springs to life once the catchy theme song of the TV Series ADDAMS FAMILY is heard on the soundtrack. So much for beloved nostalgia. Even the new songs Christina Aguilera released “Haunted Heart” and “My Family” sung by Migos, rapper Snoop Dogg and Colombian Reggaeton superstar Karol G cannot match that.
The film suffers from a weak narrative made worse by weak story-telling. The ilm is punctuated or interrupted by un-connected humour. The lack of a sufficiently menacing villain does not help either. The TV host Needler and the mean girl at school Bethany do not really qualify as the usual destroy the whole planet-type villains.
In the TV series, a lot of the humour is derived by innocent ordinary humans stumbling across the Addams Family and being shocked by their strangeness. These were funny and worked well. In this film, it is the other way around here the human beings are the monsters that taunt the otherwise innocent Addams Family.
The humour of the film will escape the little ones in the audience as there are quite a few dialogue jokes. The monsters should be harmless enough not to scare the children.
When the film ends with the full lyrics of the TV series song sung out, as if forming the film’s climax, one feels certain that the filmmakers have run out of ideas. THE ADDAMS FAMILY is harmless fun but it could have been more fun.
Henry Glassie and his wife are folklorists, the audience is told at the beginning of this Irish documentary that premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. They have travelled around the world for field work, their last year spent in Bahia, Brazil.
What is a folklorist and what do folklorists do?
Folklorists—many of whom are members of the American Folklore Society or of similar associations around the world—live and work throughout the world. They include students, teachers, scholars, consultants, community organizers, educators, and public agency professionals. Folklorists’ interests range from local family traditions to transnational issues of ethnic conflict, from publications to public programming, from the performing to the visual arts, from everyday life to communities’ most special occasions, and from research to public policy.
Folklorists publish scholarly articles, in-depth books, and engaging exhibition catalogs. They produce award-winning documentary films and recordings (as do director Pat Collins and subject Henry Glassie), as well as nationally recognized radio programs. Most important, they work to establish public policy that honours and respects cultural diversity as this doc demonstrates.
Whatever their particular interests or work, folklorists recognize the value of experience-based knowledge and the importance of understanding the intersections of artfulness and everyday life. The artistic, cultural, educational, historical, and political questions folklorists raise place the field at the leading edge of contemporary cultural issues, and establish folklore as a primary field of the humanities.
The doc is not flawless. Unlike other docs, there is clearly a lack of archival footage When songs are used in the film, only photos of the singers appear on screen. Some have titles of their names and some do not. The film goes on to inform of Glassie’s childhood and background at the midway mark of the film instead of the start, after going through some of his subjects. As a result, the doc looks disorganized in structure and in its arrangement of the presentation. There is one scene filmed in Turkey in which the mike from the boom can be seen at the top the screen.
As the doc takes the audience around the world, particularly in the countryside away from the cites, there is some stunning display of nature – of the mountains, forests and rivers, courtesy of cinematographer Colm Hogan.
Watching as a few pottery craftsmen work their wares is somewhat equivalent to watching paint dry. The film is extremely slow. In the midst of the film, Glassie says that folklore is patience and reverence. That is so true. For one to appreciate this film, one has to be interested in folklore – and to be both patient and reverent towards the material in the film.
Director Collins only attempts to connect his audience to his subject at the end of the film. Glassie talks about his encounters with folk in different countries. He tells the audience that in is opinion, most people are generally good and willing too are their experiences. Otherwise, folklore can be quite the isolated subject for many.
BRITT-MARIE WAS HERE, the second feature by Swedish actress and director Tuva Novotny is a feel-good film from Sweden that serves as the perfect ‘foreign film for beginners’. Unlike other notable Swedish films from Masters like Ingmar Bergman, there is no contemplation on death or the evil one or complicated love affairs. It is about living. BRITT-MARIE WAS HERE is a film that intends to show that it is never too late to start living. The film is the second adaptation to the big screen of a novel by Fredrik Backman (A Man called Ove).
Britt-Marie, 63 years old (Pernilla August), has just left a 40-year-old marriage when she finds out that her husband has been cheating with a younger woman. She has lived too long a life as a housewife. Being told she is a nagging passive aggressive aunt, the new, only job, in small town Borg will be quite challenging. The small town of Borg has no pride left except the young soccer team, and Britt-Marie’s new job is to coach them.
Britt-Marie knows nothing about football. All she knows is order and tidiness as in house cleaning. When her husband leaves her, she is forced to take the job in Borg to coach football when she knows nothing about football. “One day at a time,” Britt-Marie tells herself, “One day at a time.”
Britt-Marie’s journey that is filled with struggles, challenges but also warmth and love makes director’s Novotny’s endearing story.
A bit too eager to please, the film tends up to be a bit too predictable towards the end. The set-up, however is fresh and full of little surprises like the ones that pop up to change Britt-Maries life. The film also contains quite a few emotional moments that might require one to brig some Kleenex.
The small film that it is, it has a (small) limited release at the local Regent Thetare, that might be out of the way for some folks. But if one wants to fee good and perhaps shed a tear or two, BRITT-MARIE is the one to see. Filmed in Swedish and German.
In short, LUCY IN THE SKY is the story of a crazy woman. But how the journey gets to this point is quite the intrigue.
The film begins with a stunning look of an astronaut in outer space. Lucy Cola (Natalie Portman) is told: “Warp it up, you are going home.” To which she answers “Just give me a few more minutes.” The film also flashes on the screen ‘Based on real events.’ The term real instead of true indicates events that are likely disturbing.
After returning to earth, an obsessive astronaut (Natalie Portman) begins to question her place in the universe — including her relationships with her gentle husband (Dan Stevens) and her alluring crewmate (Jon Hamm. When she returns, all Lucy wants is to go back to space, at all costs. er modest family life loses its allure and the comforting support of her gentle husband Drew (Dan Stevens) is suddenly less appealing than the masculine charisma of a fellow astronaut, Mark (Jon Hamm), a divorcee disconcertingly eager to encourage an affair. As she determinedly trains for her next mission, her growing dissociation threatens to dismantle both her personal and professional lives. Hawley shows all the ugliness of Lucy’s obsession. The sympathy goes to the poor husband. The only reason Lucy can give her husband for her erratic behaviour is: “Can’t you see I have changed.”
Director Hawley cannot resists using the Beatles song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”. In fact the title is probably taken from the song as well. That sequence is artistically done in a surreal sequence Lucy in the foreground and images of her past changing in the background.
LUCY IN THE SKY is not a very good film. Director Hawley takes too much time to set up the film’s premise resulting in a very slow and ponderous first half. It does not help that the character Lucy is an extremely annoying and unlikable one. But Hawley pulls a good twist in the last third of the film when the audience finally realizes that the story is about a crazy lady that they are not supposed to sympathize with.
The cinematography of outer space, courtesy of cinematographer Polly Morgan is nothing short of stunning, especially at the start of the film.
The film includes a few ridiculous bits like one part where Lucy picks up a wig for disguise. Since when do they ell wigs in a hardware store? The ending with the bees also makes little sense to the story.
Ellen Burstyn has a small role as Lucy’s mother. Burstyn steals every scene she is in, with her bitter and somewhat sarcastic dialogue on life, something more of what the film needs.
There event that film is ‘inspired’ by is the story of Lisa Nowak, an astronaut who tried to kidnap another NASA colleague at the Orlando airport.
LUCY IN THE SKY is a dull disappointing drama disguised as a space movie. It might have worked if the material were given a twisted twist with some black humour. LUCY had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival but to general lacklustre reviews.
The opening credits appear framed by a mouth with quivering lips in front of braced teeth. If you think that is weird, consider the following scenario when a mother Jill (Jocelyn DeBoer) asks if she can get back her baby daughter she had given to her friend Lisa (Dawn Luebbe) because her only other child, her son has turned into a dog. When the answer is no, Jill says,, “Cannot hurt in asking.” when the reply comes: “It does hurt.” It is a good reply though it shorts stop any other possible responses that could top that.
Described rather accurately as KAFKA meets THE LOBSTER, this is absurdist satire that not everyone will be comfortable with. But if this is your cup of tea, GREENER GRASS which could also be called ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT WITH A DOSE OF OVER-POLITENESS will be quite the delight.
The setting is an unnamed American suburban town. The lead characters are two families each with children, and children with problems. Lisa and Dennis (Neil Casey) do not have sex anymore. Jill and husband Nick (Beck Bennett) on the other hand, have a sex schedule of five times a week. The former’s son Julian (Julian Hilliard) is horrible at sports, school and music (he plunks the piano) at a concert compared to the latter’s son who is downright rude and would mouthed – all perfect excuses for hilarity. But everyone is so polite except when telling the truth that they always do resulting in extreme awkward moments. The grass is always greener on the other side and there is always room for improvement. Nick thinks the pool filtration results in better drinking water despite the awful taste. Nick brings his own water to the restaurant for drinking.
Other absurdities involve Lisa giving birth to a football that she keeps wrapped in swathing clothes. There is another neighbour with twins who wants everyone too know that she is separated.
All the actors play their material straight faced including the child actors who are actually the funniest, special mention going to Julian Hilliard before turning into the cutest dog. The scene stealer is D’Arcy Carden as Miss Human, the school teacher that conducts inappropriate examples in the children’s classes.
Apart form all this, the film is framed by a serial killer, a bagger at the local supermarket that serves as a kind of whodunit, and also serves as an appropriate climax to the film.
The comedy is fresh, funny and relatively clean except for the few vulgarities uttered by the rude son. This is the kind of original comedy that one does not want to end, though the film runs only around 100 minutes.
Though relatively unknown, the actors have done Saturday Night Live before and this is SNL that works not like the 90% of the skits every Saturday that are just unfunny. GREENER GRASS is not 100% flawless. The film is a bit messy at times as with its ending and a few set-ups like the photography session turning up a dud. Still it might just end up on the list of cult movies to be remembered.