The sun’s setting earlier and earlier and the first holiday movie has hit the theaters. But happily, you don’t need to actually go see Last Christmas, the Emma Thompson-penned, Khaleesi-starring film inspired by a George Michael classic just to see if you correctly guessed the kind of obvious plot twist from the trailer. If you’re not yet in the sappy holiday spirit, some films from festivals making their return to Seattle this weekend to consider:
- Pain and Glory (2019 | Spain | 112 minutes | Pedro Almodóvar)
Pedro Almodovar’s latest is an autobiographical melancholy meander down memory lane with a wonderfully expressive Antonio Banderas playing a successful Spanish director, addled by chronic pain, and on the verge of self-exile toward the end of his career. The thirtieth anniversary of one of his most famous films provides an occasion to mend fences with an actor whose friendship ended disastrously during the messy publicity tour surrounding the film’s release. Set in a fantastic apartment and with fabulous clothing that only Banderas could pull off, the main action takes place in these midlife doldrums of a stalled career and the messy rekindling of a broken friendship, aided in large part by drink and drugs. The rest of the story unfolds in fits and starts through reminisces: the dawning of a creative life (and proto-sexual awakening) as a prodigious child raised in a seaside village cave house, artistic discovery in a catholic school, a bittersweet first love, and confronting his regrets over his care for his ailing mother (Penélope Cruz in earlier scenes, Julieta Serrano later, both endearing performances). The fusion of these elements makes for an altogether lovely tapestry of reminiscences, culminating in a sensitive and affecting portrait of an artist’s reawakening after a loss.
- Greener Grass (2019 | USA | 97 minutes | Jocelyn DeBoer, Dawn Luebbe)
A SIFF 2019 highlight: there’s no level of too stoned to be when watching this massively absurd Lynchian horror comedy involving adult braces, no-paperwork adoptions, the limits of politeness, and an adorable golden retriever in the setting of a candy-colored planned community. Entirely ridiculous at every turn, but if you can hang with the deadpan insanity, there’s something deep and unsettling at the core. ☆☆☆
(SIFF Film Center, Friday-Sunday)
Suggestions from Chris, including some blasts from the past:
- Rabid (1977 | Canada | 91 minutes | David Cronenberg)
One of David Cronenberg’s creepiest movies (and that’s saying something!) is also one of my favorites of his. It stars Marilyn Chambers, former XXX star, as a woman who wakes up from a motorcycle accident with an all new skin. I never had the chance to see it in a theater, so I’m relishing the opportunity the NW Film Forum is gifting us with. (NW Film Forum, Friday, November 8 through Sunday, November 10.)
- 10 Things I Hate About You (1999 | USA | 97 minutes | Gil Junger)
The greatest movie ever to be set at Stadium High School in Tacoma and the best teen movie this side of Clueless is an objectively good movie by almost any measure. It’s a loosely adapted version of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, but that’s mostly immaterial because the scene where Heath Ledger sings “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” is one of the great moments in film history. It’s well worth your time and money.
(Central Cinema, through Wednesday, November 13)
- Street Fight Radio presents: Undercover Business Tyrants
Street Fight Radio was instrumental to the formation of what we now know as the “dirtbag left” (my people). A radio show and podcast from Columbus, OH, it’s very funny and very pro-worker. Bryan Quimby and Brett Payne are doing two live shows of their popular “Undercover Business Tyrant” series live at the Beacon. It’ll be an evening with lots of laughs and more than a few groans about how capitalism works.
(Beacon Theater, Saturday, November 9 at 7 and 9pm)