Movie reviews: A submarine, a pope, and some skin

After falling off the blog wagon for nearly two months this past spring, I’m finally almost caught up with writing and posting reviews of all the movies I’ve seen lately. In the spirit of my spring break movie binge, a glorious three days at the Fresno Film Festival, and a brief study of Georges Méliès, here are a few short reviews of films I watched at the start of summer.

“We Have a Pope”
Directed by:
Nanni Moretti
Format: Big screen
Viewed: Wednesday 5/30/2012 with my wife at the Palm Theatre in San Luis Obispo
My wife and I always try to see a movie at the gorgeous old Palm Theatre whenever we trek to the central coast. On this trip, we caught this odd little Italian picture that tells the story of a man who is chosen to be the new pope– but he refuses. There are tons of funny moments, many involving a Vatican-appointed, non-Catholic psychotherapist and his attempts to understand the impossible situation. (Watch for the therapist organizing a terrific and uplifting volleyball tournament among members of the conclave!) Blasphemous? Yes. But it is also a profound meditation on faith and uncertainty.

“The Skin I Live In”
Directed by:
Pedro Almodóvar
Format: DVD from Redbox
Viewed: Sunday 6/03/2012 with my wife at home
I have never seen an Almodóvar that I haven’t loved– until this one. Antonio Banderas plays a plastic surgeon gone mad who experiments relentlessly with a human guinea pig. In an effort to make the perfect skin, the surgeon ignores ethics and becomes an emotional maniac capable of many cringe-worthy acts. Almodóvar’s latest is definitely a well-made film, but I thought its heart was ugly and downright creepy.

Directed by:
Richard Ayoade
Format: DVD from Redbox
Viewed: Tuesday 5/29/2012 with my wife at home
This little gem caught my eye on Redbox, and I enjoyed it a lot even though I’d never heard of it before. The movie is kind of a twee British version of a Wes Anderson flick, with the young protagonist, Oliver, at the heart of the shenanigans. Oliver’s own failed attempts at relationships mirror the failed relationships all around him, and some of the scenes between Oliver and his emotionally paralyzed father are quite heartbreaking. The ending is a bit Hollywood, but the film’s quirky honesty is fun and smart.

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