The Reel Less Traveled – February 2020

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In Retrospect…

    If there is one common theme in both of the special screenings this month, it would probably be nostalgia. In one instance, it’s a clear case of almost historical significance and in the other, it’s recounting the past and wondering over a person’s life and its worth.
    You’ve Got Mail is one of those breezy meet-cute films that were all the rage in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry Met Sally are two more examples.
    Many might look upon this film with fondness, recalling the assuring male voice that cheerily announced the title of this movie. It was also fairly high concept as far as these movies are concerned but now it’s probably just seen as quaint.
    The initial conflict, as both Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan struggle through their mutual loathing in their physical lives and their admiration for each other in their online lives, is diverting. Yet, it is also noteworthy in its cleverness thanks to Nora Ephron’s direction, as well as her contribution to the screenplay – along with her sister Delia.
    Look out for the supporting cast, Jean Stapleton, Dabney Coleman and Dave Chappelle, lending their considerable talents to the proceedings. It shows at the Orinda Theatre 7 p.m., Feb. 13. Admission is free.
    Of the next selection, Pain and Glory, it is important to point out it’s a rarity on several fronts, not the least being you will have the opportunity to get in on the ground floor on a film which almost certainly will be in the running for this year’s best film Oscar race. Other considerations are its director and leading man. But the most significant thing is this movie’s theme.
    Art and the struggles artists go through to create is not a common trope. Off the top of my head, I can only think of a dozen or so movies which explore this topic, from Fellini’s , to 2018s At Eternity’s Gate starring Willam Dafoe.
    Indeed, apart from Ken Russell, who made an entire career out of making films about famous artists (mostly classical composers), artists usually get short shrift, their art itself being that which grabs the most attention (which is why you should make a special effort to see Pain and Glory).
    Not only is it written and directed by the famed Pedro Almodovar, but it also stars the equally famed Antonio Banderas as an artist struggling with the quality of his legacy and the effect it has on the people closest to him. Add Penelope Cruz to the mix and you’re sure to see something truly magical.
    It runs for one week starting Feb. 7 at the Orinda Theatre. Check www.orindamovies.com for show times.
    So there you have it for February and remember to stay in the dark for that’s where the reel magic lies.

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