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“Pain and Glory” is a Movie The Deserves to be Cherished

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Pedro Almodóvar is not adverse to taking his audience to uncomfortable places. Often using comedy and melodrama, or his own unique mixture of the two, as a means in, he is so good at making movies about difficult subjects.

In his latest feature, Pain and Glory, he’s addressing perhaps the most taboo subject in modern film, aging. And this time, his style and storytelling is marked by its gentleness, affection and sincerity.

Guided by its protagonist, filmmaker Salvador Mallo (Antonio Banderas), the film begins with the director sitting motionless in a chair, submerged in a pool. In a moving close up, we see a surgical scar that runs nearly the length of his spine. This is a man suffering, within and without, replacing the hectic and physical work of filmmaking with the search for pain relief, whether in pools or with opioids. It is not, however, a woe-is-me tale of grumpy whining. Mallo hardly ever mentions his pain, but it is manifest in every motion and expression in Banderas’s award-winning performance. That is because his suffering seems to activate the revisiting and revitalization of childhood memories, particularly those involving he and his mother (Penelope Cruz).

For instance, that first image of the pained patient underwater transitions to a memory of his mother and her friends cleaning clothes by the river while he, the bright-eyed child, looks on, delighted by their comradery and singing. It’s a moment of connection.

The fact that this scene is evocative of a similar scene in Fellini’s 8 1/2, another film about a blocked director, points out that Pain and Glory is also a film about filmmaking.  In particular, about the ability of art-making, not only to express the deepest and most thoughtful reflections of life, but also to connect — audience to artist, but also artist to himself.

By using frequent collaborators like Banderas (who wears Almodóvar’s clothes in the film) and Cruz, and filming in his own apartment, Almodóvar is opening up this film to an autobiographical reading, but not limiting it to that. Instead, it’s about how the experiences and relationships of one’s life is what shape and define us. This is experience and knowledge earned.

What is most appealing to me about this film — and I must say I found everything about it appealing — is the way it portrays the mature honesty and truth-telling one earns through old age. Not scenes of smacking down the young for their ignorance, or the hypocritical for their self-deceit, but the gentle surrendering to reality, to one’s addictions, to one’s mistakes and follies, to one’s vulnerabilities. And embracing and acting upon one’s strengths and talents.

This is a wise film made by an artist who has earned his wisdom through not only youthful and middle-age abandon, but also a life of reflection and thought. The last shot of Mallo, the boy, and Penelope Cruz, his mother, beautifully illustrates how for Almodóvar the filmmaker and his onscreen double — and for us, his dedicated audience over the years — his art, as well as his life, has led to this moment —- and this film.

This a movie to be, not just enjoyed, but cherished.

 

 

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Caesar’s Reign Comes To The Big Screen With New Trailer For Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes

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Director Wes Ball breathes new life into the global, epic franchise set several generations in the future following Caesar’s reign, in which apes are the dominant species living harmoniously and humans have been reduced to living in the shadows. As a new tyrannical ape leader builds his empire, one young ape undertakes a harrowing journey that will cause him to question all that he has known about the past and to make choices that will define a future for apes and humans alike. “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” is directed by Wes Ball (the “Maze Runner” trilogy) and stars Owen Teague (“IT”), Freya Allan (“The Witcher”), Kevin Durand (“Locke & Key”), Peter Macon (“Shameless”), and William H. Macy (“Fargo”). The screenplay is by Josh Friedman (“War of the Worlds”) and Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver (“Avatar: The Way of Water”) and Patrick Aison (“Prey”), based on characters created by Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver, and the producers are Wes Ball, Joe Hartwick, Jr., p.g.a. (“The Maze Runner”), Rick Jaffa, p.g.a., Amanda Silver, p.g.a., Jason Reed, p.g.a. (“Mulan”), with Peter Chernin (the “Planet of the Apes” trilogy) and Jenno Topping (“Ford v. Ferrari”) serving as executive producers.

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Masterchef Is Back! For Halo Season 2

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A quick recap – Halo is set in a war-torn 26th century, where humanity led by the United Nations Space Command or UNSC and their supersoldiers known as Spartans, fights against the onslaught of the alien conglomerate known as the Covenant. The full dust-up of Halo Season 1, can be found here. Onward into the introduction of Halo Season 2!

It’s been six months since the forced separation of Spartan Masterchief John (Pablo Schreiber) and Cortana (Jen Taylor), and the Silver Team has been sent on a mission to evacuate residents of the planet Sanctuary before the Covenant glasses the whole thing. This comes with its own set of challenges, given the resistance of the planet’s inhabitants, and it doesn’t help that Masterchef starts seeing things right in the middle of trying to save some marines. Or is he? Those energy swords the squad of Elites were carrying looked worryingly real.

Back on Reach, the Silver Team is entirely dismayed to learn they have a brand new Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) representative come in as the new boss, to finally replace the traitorous Halsey, James Ackerson (Joseph Morgan). And of course, Ackerson manages to immediately get under Masterchief’s skin, by not only expressing far too much interest in John’s relationship with Cortana but also apparently disbelieving of John’s report of his encounters on Sanctuary. That just means Masterchief has to go around, if not entirely over, Ackerson’s head.

Elsewhere, Soren (Bokeem Woodbine) is trolling the slave markets in his boredom, only to stumble across a soon-to-be indentured servant who claims he knows the whereabouts of the UNSC’s most hunted human, Catherine Halsey (Natascha McElhone). That should bring a huge bounty, but really, Soren should’ve known better by now.

Halo Season 2 premieres Thursday, February 8th, 2024, and will continue to air every Thursday, only on Paramount+!

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Reborn as a Vending Machine I Now Wander the Dungeon’: I look forward to your next use!  

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If the title of this delightful little isekai anime entry didn’t give it all away, our nameless protagonist is a vending machine fanatic who, after being killed by a vending machine, gets reincarnated in another fantasy-style world as one! 

Japan has a tendency to give birth to all sorts of crazed fads that can last for decades, and no one does better when it comes to the vending machine industry, too. These days there are vending machines that will serve you sushi you can actually eat, hot pizza in the box, wagyu steaks, freshly popped popcorn, and a whole mind-boggling array of tasty treats, and other non-edible but still useful items! Umbrellas! Condoms! Oxygen masks, sterile bandages, shoes, and emergency clothing! Actually, far more things that we use on an everyday basis, could be considered as technically a vending machine, and the anime explores that beautifully. Into the world of vending machine fanaticism, we dive! 

So our poor protagonist never gave a name, and inevitably when he’s discovered by his first official friend the starving hunter Lammis, she dubs him “Boxxo”. Like many isekai that seem to take inspiration from video games and RPGs, Boxxo discovers he ways he can communicate, level up his existence, and even evince magic-like powers and attack and defend against monsters and enemies. Though in the beginning, and as an underlying theme throughout the show, Boxxo is primarily concerned with providing unique never-before-tasted-in-this-world food and drink to the amazed folk, human and otherwise. 

Boxxo’s prices are entirely reasonable and hey, he can even choose to give out his wares for free on occasion, so his popularity immediately skyrockets. Lammis with her awkward charm and prodigious strength blessing, introduces Boxxo to other friends of Clearflow Lake Village and associates along the way – Director Bear, an actual bear-monster who’s the head of the Hunters Association; Lammis’ friend Hulemy, the insane genius magic item engineer; the Bearcats Suco, Pell, Short and Mikenne, cheerful hunters with astronomic appetites; even suspicious Kerioyl, leader of the Menagerie of Fools party. 

The show approaches the practicality and versatility of the true vending machine with amusement, but also with the love true fans display for things they’re passionate about. Certainly, things like a brothel needing a condom vending machine exist in our world, but to toss them into a potentially more innocent other-world isekai is a welcome and often hilarious treat. The show celebrates the cheerful idiocy and devotion of the fans to their chosen fandom, in this case, yes vending machines, but also the spirit of the lonely otaku finally finding their Tribe! 

Pay your coins to watch ‘Reborn as a Vending Machine’ on Crunchyroll now! 

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