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Pain and Glory

In the wonderful world of Pedro Almodóvar, the two go hand in hand
© Sony Pictures Classics Antonio Banderas plays a filmmaker in crisis in director Pedro Almodóvar’s masterpiece about loss, love, imagination and memory.
     Pain is fuel for Salvador Mallo (Antonio Banderas). Poverty, physical ailments, drugs, disastrous love affairs: All fueled Mallo’s rise as a great director. Until the pains of advancing age threaten his artistic abilities. 
     Mallo chokes when he eats or drinks. He wears sensible loafers because he can’t tie the laces on his fancy athletic shoes. His knees creak when he bends. Constant headaches, chronic pain and choking keep him from making new films. He wanders about his beautiful Madrid apartment, one more artistic relic entombed among all he’s collected. 
      With a retrospective planned on his first film, now considered a classic, Mallo reflects on the thousands of bittersweet moments that lead him to where he is. He makes peace with Alberto (Asier Etxeandia), the star of his first film, with whom he’s had a public feud.
      Can Mallo rebound? Or will pain have the final victory?
      Long a darling of international cinema, director Pedro Almodóvar has turned the camera on himself for this bittersweet, contemplative and deeply personal work. Like before it, Pain and Glory examines the joy and agony of making art. 
     Almodóvar’s signature is vivid color and beautiful cinematography. Mallo’s apartment is packed with gorgeous art and stunning furniture. Flashbacks to his life in a poor village with his mother (Penélope Cruz) are bright and austere. The minimalist whiteness of his childhood contrasts with the rich colors of his success. 
      At the heart of the film, Banderas is phenomenal. A longtime collaborator with the director, he gives a deeply nuanced performance, making Mallo a pensive swirl of regrets and artistic impulses. It’s a stirring performance and probably Banderas’ best ever.
Excellent Drama • R • 113 mins.
 
~~~ New this Week ~~~
 
Black and Blue
      Corrupt cops murder a drug dealer, and rookie Alicia (Naomie Harris) captures it all on her body cam. Soon, she’s running from both the police who want to silence her and the drug dealer’s associates, who want to make her an example. 
      This is a story we’ve seen dozens of times: One good cop pinned between the corruptions of a department and the criminal underworld. It’s supposed to be gritty, but at this point it’s rote.
Prospects: Dim • R • 108 mins.
 
Countdown 
       With her friends fascinated by an app that predicts when you die, nurse Quinn (Elizabeth Lail) downloads it to join the fun. When the app tells her she has three days to live, she laughs it off. But a few close calls make her worry that death is tracking her.
      This is why you download only games on your phone. 
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 90 mins.
 
The Current War
      In a revolution that will alter history, electricity is coming to Manhattan. With two inventors battling, who will win the current war?
      Acknowledged genius Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch) is challenged by Nikolai Tesla (Nicholas Hoult), who believes he has a better method for illuminating the world. 
      Two versions of this movie — the Director’s Cut and the Studio Release — are playing in theaters. Neither is getting very good reviews. 
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 107 mins.
 
The Lighthouse
      Two strangers man a deserted lighthouse. It’s hard work, and they soon wear on each other’s nerves. Meanwhile, something odd seems to be going on in the creepy lighthouse. 
      Director Robert Eggers’ surrealist plunge into isolation and paranoia is more about atmosphere than plot. If you’re hoping for a simple popcorn flick, this is going to be more headache than entertainment. 
Prospects: Bright • R • 110 mins.
 
Parasite
      The Parks have it all: a big house, lots of luxury toys and money to burn. Across the street live the Kims, crammed into a tiny apartment and barely scraping by. Tired of looking at things they don’t have, the Kims introduce themselves to their neighbors. What results is a dark fairytale about wealth and privilege.
     The less you know about director Bong Joon Ho’s black comedy, the better. One of the best-reviewed films of the year, it will challenge your beliefs and keep you entertained. 
Prospects: Bright • R • 132 mins. 
 
Western Stars
      This movie to accompany Bruce Springsteen’s latest album is a mood piece about love and loss. Co-directed by The Boss himself, it’s a visual album that should evoke the best of Springsteen’s music.
Prospects: Bright • PG • 83 mins.