VIFF ’21 Review: ‘Official Competition’ is a savvy, hilarious satire

Official Competition

The best comedies are the ones with depth. The ones that layer together stories and satire and lay bare what the filmmakers feel about whatever subject they are tackling. Official Competition is one of these films.

The film opens in the wake of a billionaire’s birthday party, a man looking back on his 80 years and wondering about his legacy. What can he do to ensure he’s remembered? An idea comes to him: a film; A great film. A film directed by and starring the greatest talent available and drawing on a beloved novel as its source. Or maybe a bridge. A bridge would be good. But no, a film is the way to go, and he impulsively buys the rights to a noble prize-winning book, hires an award-winning art-house director, and the two greatest actors of this generation. Of course, when I say he does it impulsively, I mean he has his assistant do it.

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VIFF Review: ‘Pain and Glory’ is Amaldóvar’s most deeply personal film

Pain & Glory / VIFF 2019

Antonio Banderas and Pedro Amaldóvar are two of Spain’s biggest film exports and have worked together numerous times. It fits then that in Pain & Glory, the story of an ageing filmmaker in a creative rut who needs to address some unresolved issues from his past, Banderas is basically playing Amaldóvar.

He’s not, of course. Not exactly. Banderas is Salvador Mallo, a respected director who was a maverick in his youth and who has settled into more soulful work in his later years who is suffering from debilitating pain and illness. So he’s basically Amaldóvar in this semi-autobiographical film. He’s also transcendently good in the role.

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