This Week You Will Learn:
- How Pedro Almodóvar avoided jail making his earliest movies
- Where Sean Baker finds his local talent
- The difference between working with Hoyte van Hoytema and Roger Deakins
- The bleakest Christmas movie option
- The outer limits of Hallmark’s Christmas imagination in the 1960s.
Send articles throughout the next week to ploughmanplods [at] gmail, post articles from the past week below for discussion and Have a Happy Friday!
Marcela Valdez and The New York Times Magazine offers a profile of Pedro Almodóvar, his life and how it speaks to his newest film Parallel Mothers:
All his life, Almodóvar has gotten through difficulties by turning to his imagination. Born in 1949, he grew up in a Spain that was largely cowed by Gen. Francisco Franco’s dictatorship. Franco took control of the country in 1939, after he and his right-wing military forces won the Spanish Civil War, and he ruled until his death in 1975. During and immediately after the war, he and his supporters sought not only to rid Spain of liberals, democrats, anarchists, socialists and communists but also to cleanse the country of Jews, Romanis, atheists, homosexuals, Freemasons, feminists and labor organizers. Almodóvar — an atheist who discovered his sexuality after watching Warren Beatty in the 1961 film “Splendor in the Grass” — was clearly among the undesirables. Yet even when Franco was in power, Almodóvar felt an absolute liberty whenever he sat down to write a story or a screenplay. “It’s a very clear feeling,” he told me. “There’s no limit that I give myself, or that I impose on myself, or that I find.”
At The AV Club, Katie Rife talks to Sean Baker about depicting outsider communities in his films:
It’s not like I have a blueprint of how to do it, but I have made sure [to be conscious of it]. The opinion of the community or location or microcosm that I’m focused on is very important to me. Their opinion matters to me more than any critic’s opinion. So it’s really just about doing right by them, and I do everything I can to make that happen. In the collaborative stage, you’re showing them scripts, and you’re getting notes. Sometimes you’re bringing on [locals as] collaborators. And also, it’s just the simple question of, “if a filmmaker came into my life and said, ‘I want to shoot a fictional movie that takes place in your world, and I want you to perhaps even play a character that has similar life experiences,’ what would I want? I’d want that filmmaker to do it respectfully, and to include me, and really focus on the representation. So that’s that’s what I do.
For Mubi Notebook, Alex Broadwell interviews colorist Matt Wallach on his career and approach to working with cinematographers like Hoyte van Hoytema, Linus Sandgren and Roger Deakins:
As an addition to the skewed holiday movie canon, Kayleigh Donaldson writes up the bleak Christmas-set drama Morvern Caller: for Crooked Marquee:
Lynne Ramsay, perhaps Scotland’s greatest working filmmaker, remains one of the true geniuses in her depictions of trauma. We Need to Talk About Kevin shows a guilt-stricken mother pouring over her past and present to figure out the connective tissue between her parenting and her son’s brutal crimes. You Were Never Really Here follows a former soldier who extracts trafficked children from brothels in-between bouts of casual suicidal ideation punctuated by flashes of childhood and military-related PTSD. The young boy front and center in her debut Ratcatcher tries to survive poverty, family, and his own culpability in a horrendous accident. All four of her feature film protagonists are unwitting participants in this pain, witnesses to horror in ways they did not ask for yet must deal with the fallout regardless. Some resort to acts of numbing violence while others try to find answers.
Vintage Everyday remembers when Hallmark commissioned Salvador Dalí to create holiday greeting cards with mixed results:
In 1948 Hallmark released the Gallery Artists line of Christmas cards, featuring works by artists throughout history including El Greco, Van Gogh, Grandma Moses, and Salvador Dali. A recent convert to Catholicism, Dali contributed devotional images of a Madonna and Child, Three Wise Men, and an angel. Although Hallmark’s initial venture into fine art was a great success overall, Dali’s images proved a bit too avant-garde for traditional consumers.