Almodóvar, Banderas and ‘Klaus’ leave empty-handed

Almost everyone took it for granted that neither ‘Pain and glory’, by Pedro Almodóvar, nor Antonio Banderas, nominated for his role as Salvador Mallo in the film by the filmmaker from La Mancha, were going to win the Oscar. Both had been praising their opponents for weeks and assuming that getting the precious statuette was going to be very difficult. And it’s not that they hadn’t deserved it. ‘Pain and Glory’ is one of the director’s most personal and autobiographical films and focuses on a director, who at the twilight of his career and as he encounters different people, remembers his life journey. It is a wonderful film that also wins a lot if one has been seduced by the manchego’s cinema on some occasion. But Antonio Banderas also excels in the role of the man from La Mancha’s alter ego. Fragile and seductive, throughout the film, the similarities with the filmmaker from La Mancha are clear, without imitating him, but there is an almost magical moment and it is that telephone press conference in which Banderas transmutes directly into Almodóvar, the public Almodóvar.

And the truth is that neither of them has had the opportunity to take it and the predictions, this time, came true. ‘Parasites’ has not only snatched the Oscar for best international film from La Mancha’s film, but at the end of the night it has made history by obtaining the award for best film, the first given to a non-English speaking film. Banderas was not wrong either when he predicted that Joaquin Phoenix would win the statuette for best actor for his role in the ‘Joker’. The Hollywood Film Academy has played it safe and has rewarded an extreme role, once again, ignoring roles with nuances and details such as the restraint of the man from Malaga or the gallery of emotions through which Leonardo DiCaprio’s role in ‘Once Upon a Time’ runs. once in…Hollywood’.

But if there was a film that had better prospects for bringing an Oscar to Spain, it was ‘Klaus’. It may not have been good for the film directed by Madrid-born Sergio Pablos to be associated with Netflix, but it is worth remembering that it was fighting against a giant like Pixar-Disney and its ‘Toy Story 4’. Without discrediting the latest adventure of Woody and company, the truth is that awarding ‘Klaus’ would have meant awarding a more original and equally entertaining story and, above all, the return of a 2D animation adapted to the 21st century.

Because yes, Sergio Pablos’ film is a christmas movie, but so original and so well written that the result is brilliant and fiercely fun. Pablos has said in a recent interview that the germ of this Christmas story emerged just when Gru reached the general public: “I was looking for the next big idea and I noticed that there was a trend towards a lot of origin stories, like ‘Batman Begins’ ». It was about taking an already outdated character, with all the mythology of him, and updating him for the public. For days he thought about it until he got to Santa Claus. And although it seemed “nerdy” to him at first, he soon realized that he didn’t have a clear origin story. The key from there was to find the right angle and at that point the postman was born Jesper, the true protagonist of the feature film.

‘Klaus’ is about the spoiled and spoiled son of the general director of a postal service. Accustomed to silk sheets, sumptuous delicacies and endless comforts, through butler, young Jesper is sent to the Royal Postal Academy to become a profitable man, but there is no way. Tired of supporting him, his father entrusts him with a mission: he must set up an operational post office in Smeerensburg, a remote and dark place where two family clans have been at odds since time immemorial. If in one year he manages to seal six thousand letters, Jesper will be able to return to his life of luxury. The turning point comes when he meets a mysterious and lonely woodcutter, who has a pile of toys in his cabin. Delivering one of them to a charming girl will lead Jesper to devise a plan, unbeknownst to his new friend, to start the post office.

Con a well put together script, although somewhat hackneyed – that plot arc based on selfishness and disappointing others will not surprise even the little ones -, it gradually shapes the entire well-known mythology of Santa Claus, from ‘if you behave badly, he brings you coal ‘ to the way it moves through the icy landscapes of the area. And he does it with a lot of originality, funny anachronisms that bring the story closer to the present and large doses of comedy -“Hey, kids, do you want a toy?” Jesper even says, as if he were dealing drugs – not just for infants. It’s a shame that it couldn’t be, but just by being nominated, the Spanish film has made history.


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