Pain and Glory- My Night
Tonight I went to the cinema and saw the film “Pain and Glory.” It had a q&A at the end with the lead actor Antonio Banderas and the film’s composer Alberto Inglesia. I took a class in Movies and Music in college but I just realized tonight I did not pay attention to the music in the film. I did not study it. I was too focused on the acting and too distracted by my inner emotional reactions to what was transpiring on the screen. That is a good thing. It means the music fit the film like any good piece of art, the elements must meld together to create form. The composer used the right musical paint to create a work that felt whole.
I may spoil some things. I am trying not to. I want to write more about my observations and thoughts than tell the story I saw tonight on screen. I will say that “Pain and Glory” is award worthy.
At one point during the film, two characters kiss each other on the cheeks, and a woman in front of me I hear go “eww.” I thought yuk. Not about the kiss. About the “eww.” Are we still so in the dark that we can’t accept that there are people who do not fit into our puritan perspective of love. I am straight. What was really disturbing to me is that this was a “normal” European kind of greeting. I had friends back east from other countries and I have had these friends kiss me in this manner, men and women. It made me wonder how this woman felt later in the film when there was a gay kiss.
Banderas spoke about the film maker the movie is about, Salvador Malo. I have a confession. I mixed this Salvador up with Salvador Dali. This is the second time Banderas has played a Salvador. Banderas told us that Malo in the 80s and 90s in Spain broke down barriers. The morality of Spain was still very much centered on Catholicism. He pointed out that violent scenes were acceptable in even children’s movies, but same sex kissing is taboo.
This film was not about being gay. It was about a life. It was about a person going through trauma. I can relate. I have three autoimmune diseases. I lost my breasts to cancer. I was sexually assaulted. Then I was blacklisted from the industry. Banderas said during the Q&A that we all have pain and glory. This film was about a man who had to revisit his deepest pain in order to be reborn. It made me wonder if and how that would manifest for me. It showed a man with a past, and private accomplishments. It showed a man with a family and relationships of love, both intimate and platonic. It showed a man who accomplished great things, and who also fell into deep dark places.
The most disturbing thing to me with the film was the use of drugs. Every time I kind of sighed and felt beaten. I wanted to make it stop. Like “Sex Lies and Videotape” the moment of most importance was when the video recording was stopped. The turning point in the film was when the drug use was put to an end.
This film made me wonder why we never see films about women who want to get back in touch with themselves. When I was sick with cancer, in order to stay sane I kept working on sets. I would book myself as much as I could, filling as much time on sets just to not sit at home and think, I have cancer and I could die. My father I recently asked him what he wanted me to do with my education. He had no answer for me. Then he says “you are not doing anything.” My response was that I have been cut off from everything I know. There isn’t anything for me to do.
I was abused over and over by someone who wanted to degrade me and humiliate me and in the process they convinced people I was who they said I was. They said I was crazy and a lesbian and a WASP and White Privilege. Yes I am white but I was the kid with the good grades who was also the one last to be picked in Dodge ball. I did not like being hit and I did not like hitting people. I was one of the poorer kids in school, or my parents acted like we had nothing. They were frugal and very religious. Actually I could relate to this film maker who seemed to have one foot in religion and one foot in the secular.
I was thinking to night walking home that nature does not make anything “perfect” and yet we humans try to. We try to make everything live up to standards that are sometimes impossible. Every snowflake is different. Every diamond is different. We humans make zirconians that are the same. To nature imperfection is perfection. We now live in a society where if you think differently or go against one person or group’s sense of normality you are crazy. But if it is your nature to be something, it is not fixable. It is just how you were made. There are things in life that can be controlled, addictions, even diseases, but who a person is at their core is not mental illness simply because a person is not the same as the majority.
This film reminded me that we all have pain and glory. We all live with suffering and with moments of euphoria. Our culture is stigmatizing emotions as abnormal that are very normal. A woman is bullied and abused, and she can’t stop crying about it. That is not abnormal. That is dealing with a horrible crisis in life. Our society in America has become so patriarchal and afraid of feelings that when we talk about mental illness, we do not even seem to comprehend that emotions are at the core of mental illness and also not abnormal. A person expressing their feelings is not a sign of being mentally ill. If you do not like how someone reacts it may not be they are ill, but that you are acting inappropriately and hurting them. We are afraid of feelings and honesty. So in a world where we have so many bad things happening, how can we have a mentally healthy society when people can not talk about emotions or be honest about their real feelings without someone flipping out and calling that person crazy.
I feel like we need to start making it acceptable for people to be able to say how they feel without being bullied for it by cowards who do not want to deal with emotions or who are afraid of them. We all feel pain and glory and we should all be allowed to deal with life in our own way. For me dealing with pain was to take an acting class, or write a poem, or make a movie, or dance, or hike or sing. My way of dealing with pain was to go to work, but to me work was being on a set and acting. Hence why I am a little lost these days.
I do not want to find a job answering phones in an office, or being someone’s housewife or maid. My parents wanted me to be with a man who has a house so My rent is free but who would want me to spend my time taking care of him. My father said I need a life. My idea of a life is I get to play characters and spend my time writing films, and creating poetry. I built artistichope.com into something that might generate income. I know there has to be a way and I was working on that. My father like the mother in “Pain and Glory,” I will never be the daughter my father wanted. I will never be in the kitchen with my mother reading the bible and cooking dinner for him and a husband he can be friends with. I will never be the daughter my mother wanted either.
I wish I could get the last ten years back so I could finish the things I wanted to accomplish. I had stories I wanted to tell. I had an interesting life and it is now been labelled insane. My bio reads like I had a lot of things happen. I did. TO make those things go away and not embarrass some people I have been labelled things I am not. I have been fighting to get back to the place I was in 2007. Happy to have beaten cancer and starting to build an acting career. I was stumbling around trying to figure out what digital media was and what skills I would need to work in digital films. I wasted some time studying web design before realizing what Photo Shop was and its connection to the future of digital film and art.
I love acting. I love doing it. This film reminded me why. To feel is the best part of being human. I loved digital art. But now it is tasteless to me. There is no humanity in me sitting behind a computer or sitting behind a camera. Like Malo I have a need to do what fits for me. Malo needed to find his way back to making movies. I need to find my way back to acting or a part of me just feels lifeless and empty.