This was one of the few bits of Oscar homework I had went the nominees were announced. I was halfway thru The Two Popes on Netflix, and there were a few optional ones I could get to, but the only MUST was Pain and Glory. As always, I’d selfishly hoped Antonio wouldn’t get the nod because I didn’t wanna hafta see it, but now I’m so thrilled that he did. A-Because I love him, and B-Because I utterly fell in love with this movie. It was still playing at some of the indie theaters in the area, so I planned to see it two weeks after the nominations when scheduling and budget would align better. While I was obsessively refreshing the schedule for my theater of choice so I could finalize weekend plans, a screening the following week popped up with Banderas attached to do a Q&A. Um, yes please!
One quick sidebar before I get into the movie. I’m already really excited that I’ll get to see El Mariachi himself after the film, and I skip up the steps to the second floor of The Landmark. I see a crowd and bright lights. I scan to their source and there’s a step and repeat with “McMillions” written across it. I had a thin recollection of something about McDonald’s Monopoly, but I didn’t know anything else about it. My eyes pan the red carpet and I’m seeing people I don’t recognize taking pix and being interviewed. I’m about to shrug it off, when at the far corner I see a familiar face: Mark Wahlberg. Later when I was at the concessions line, he passes right behind me to get to his auditorium, and I snap a blurry pic of his profile. So that was cool. Living la vida SoCal.
Señor Banderas plays a loose characterization of writer/director Pedro Almodóvar. The two men have worked together on many films over the years, and that closeness meant that there was a level of trust and subtlety that another actor could not have portrayed. We follow our leading man, who also happens to be a director, as he reflects on some of his earlier work and life choices, and the poor upbringing he came up through. Meanwhile, he’s dealing with various health issues and daily pains that make it a struggle to get thru the day. It sounds very simplistic, but each piece of the story was so lovingly crafted. I wanted it to go on even longer.
I don’t even know how to properly articulate the flow of the story. It’s simultaneously very slow and very fast. We take long looks at specific events, but they move from one to the other very quickly. Yet it all feels very natural. Of course, the story would go here next. It’s not until we were reaching the end that I realized that we covered A LOT of ground. This film is so dense, with so much going on, but my feeling watching it was one of bliss and lightness. As emotional as some of the scenes got (which Antonio played beautifully) there was a lovely sense of humor throughout. That delicate balance is why I left there on such an endorphin high.
Antonio’s performance was beautiful. From this year’s nominees, he’s the one that I most feel like I got to know his character and feel what he was feeling. But when I think about his performance, I’m not feeling the weight of the tough moments, I’m feeling the joy of the happy ones.
The Q&A was interesting, as they always are. My biggest takeaway was the way that Banderas framed the storytelling. I found the way it bounced around to be a sort of natural chaos, but he pointed out that it was his character reconciling with important people in his life, one at a time. That blew everything wide open for me. He talked about the relatability of the film, and how his relationship with Almodóvar shaped the film. The set is apparently a near identical recreation of Almodóvar ‘s home, and there’s other details that match up with his life even closer than you’d think. Oh and of course, there was a shout out for Puss in Boots. I don’t even remember what the context was, but that’s not important. What’s important is we all love Puss.
Dolor y Gloria – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/