Whenever I write some sort of context for a director, an industry or a series of films with which I am not entirely familiar, I feel like something of a fake. Even if what I’m saying is true, I feel bad for saying it if I’ve not experienced it first hand.
Still, what I have to say about Pedro Almodovar before I kick into the
Volver review is necessary. Don’t worry about it!

Pedro Almodovar has fashioned a career largely on making films about mothers. Until her death, Almodovar’s mother made cameo appearances in many of his films. This important relationship is the backbone of his stories, and it appears that he hasn’t deviated much from this path with the exception of his previous effort, Bad Education.
Volver combines Almodovar’s mothering theme with that of the various social problems of Spain to create an effective drama/comedy that showcases Penelope Cruz in a role that she describes as her “first real woman”. Almodovar has cast his original muse, Carmen Maura, against Cruz in something that I would describe as a full circle for his oeuvre if I knew that to be true.

It’s just a pity that they didn’t translate the title to “The Return” or something, because Volver is a really unfortunate name in English speaking society.

12 Months of Movies 2006: June

June and July: suspiciously light on ticket stubs. Is my diary lying to me? Will the internet reveal the hidden secrets? Only a quick search that I am presently too lazy to make will provide the answers!

June 2006: notable for the Sydney Film Festival, and one particularly excellent film.

The Holiday

When I went into The Holiday, I was not expecting a large amount of it to be a paean to the golden age of Hollywood. So, while I got largely what I was expecting – sweet romantic comedy which thinks it’s probably more meaningful than it really is – I got that little bit extra.

Amanda (Cameron Diaz) and Iris (Kate Winslet) decide that their lives suck, so they swap houses and continents. In Surrey, Amanda meets Graham (Jude Law), whose special ability is being just as verbose as she is. In L.A., Iris meets Arthur (Eli Wallach), who got into the movie business on the ground floor.
In these ways, their lives change profoundly.

The problem with this sort of movie is the balance given to each story, but I never really spent any of the film craving more time with Winslet or with Diaz. They were balanced fairly well, although they had very little to do with each other over the course of the film. Nancy Meyer did an excellent job of suggesting that they were both so far detached from their own lives that they could take up someone else’s with no troubles at all.
If anything, I demand more Jack Black! Demand him! Alas, Americans want to keep this great beast caged and unable to spread his wings. To them I say “fie”.

The Holiday is the sort of film for which word limits are imposed upon reviews: there’s nothing wrong with it, and it’s a thoroughly pleasant way to spend two hours. Culture shock plays a mercifully small part of the story and all of the main actors put in more than adequate jobs to create a film that it would be petty to complain about.

Merry Blerghmas!

Never fear, kind reader(s)! The “12 Months of Movies” feature will conclude! I had originally planned to do one month a day from the 18th until the 30th, but things interfered. For instance, I am presently enjoying the same fierce cold that I suffered at this time last year.

I am still aiming to have the feature done for the 30th, and then I will present unto thee a special feature for the 31st before I kick off to my New Year’s Eve party (the plan is for me to belt out “Life on Mars” on Singstar Legends while I watch other people get drunk).
What is this special feature? It’s so special I haven’t even decided yet! It’s such a nebulous concept that it can’t be pegged down, and if you consult me in 2007 to ask “‘ere, where’s that 31st of December special feature you promised?” I will look you in the eye and call you a liar, sir!

Here’s hoping that Christmas treated you well. I was planning to write an exposé that accused Love Actually of both deriding and revelling in the tackiness of Christmas time, but when I rewatched it on Saturday night I just felt it in my fingers and in my toes. It simply didn’t matter any more.

’cause on Christmas, you can depend!