Javier Bardem just puts everything in perspective. When I do that insomniac cable movie oracle thing, he often pops up to set me straight. Usually, I get him in Before Night Falls, writing in a Cuban prison and smuggling his work out in Johnny Depp's ass. There are a lot of reasons that movie's hard to watch, not least that I feel about small enclosed spaces the way Winston Smith feels about rats. When they push Reinaldo Arenas into that solitary box, I have to hit the change channel button for a few minutes, always.
Last night, Bardem showed up in an exquisitely lit muddle called Goya's Ghosts. Goya's in my top five painters (him, Manet, Hokusai, Hans Hoffman, Remedios Varo, if you care) but this thing was just a mess, a half-baked Amadeus redux from Milos Foreman, sad to think. Bardem rocked yet another wacky hairstyle (which I can relate to, since I just got my hair colored REALLY red this go around) as an inquisitor priest turned French revolutionary turned Inquisition victim. Natalie Portman got tortured a lot, again, dag, and Goya went deaf and cringed with tinnitus, which I also could relate to (I'm losing my hearing from Meniere's and actually watched a lot of the movie on mute, because the neighbors have started to complain about the TV being too loud at night).
Not anywhere near the league of Before Night Falls, but still helpful, reminding me of a few home truths:
1) Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.
2) Things aren't really That Bad for you, dear.
Finally getting back to where my muscles are humming and feeling happy again.
My daughter declares that she is making a magic potion. "It makes everyone pretty on the inside." She is stirring a plastic container with a handful of beads and sequins inside. I want the first taste.
Photo: A Bruce Weber I stole from Vanity Fair; I freely confess without use of The Question.