Director Pedro Almodovar and actor Antonio Banderas on set of Pain and Glory. Casting Banderas as a stand-in for Almodovar himself brings the world of fiction and reality together in interesting ways.

Director Pedro Almodovar and actor Antonio Banderas on set of Pain and Glory. Casting Banderas as a stand-in for Almodovar himself brings the world of fiction and reality together in interesting ways.

COLUMN: Another week that Martin Scorsese would appreciate

From the Civic Theatre’s Jason Asbell

By Jason Asbell

“It’s a perilous time in film exhibition, and there are fewer independent theaters than ever,” says Martin Scorsese.

Recently, in a New York Times opinion piece, Scorsese had to explain a comment he made in an interview for Empire magazine in October. His comment that “Marvel movies aren’t cinema,” had some people up in arms.

“What’s not there is revelation, mystery or genuine emotional danger. Nothing is at risk. The pictures are made to satisfy a specific set of demands, and they are designed as variations on a finite number of themes.”

For Scorsese and his contemporaries “cinema was about revelation — aesthetic, emotional and spiritual revelation. It was about characters — the complexity of people and their contradictory and sometimes paradoxical natures.”

Our team at the Civic Theatre values the cinematic experience as Martin describes it, and we certainly understand his sentiment about the perilous nature of film exhibition. When the Nelson Civic Theatre Society took over the cinema seven years ago we were able to consistently offer a taste of complex stories with our weekly arthouse Thursday nights. We could work around the demands of opening Disney films on the break. We had more flexibility and greater opportunities to showcase thought-provoking independent films.

Seven years later distribution costs are lower than ever because we use re-formattable digital drives rather than film but now we find that Disney owns Fox, both demand three-week minimum runs, and even the most agreeable distributors restrict splitting the theatre with another film. This means our regular alternative Thursday offering is no longer regular or necessarily on Thursday. We have to change our strategy.

We have responded by trying to offer week-long runs of alternative films in slower weeks, and try to split the week with three independent titles. Ultimately, we screen close to the same number of alternative titles but attendance will be less until membership and fellow cinephiles navigate the changes with us.

If we manage to develop two more theatres our options open up again but in that earlier interview Scorsese pointed out something else about blockbuster films. He described it as “a chicken-and-egg issue. If people are given only one kind of thing and endlessly sold only one kind of thing, of course they’re going to want more of that one kind of thing.”

Well, The Civic won’t offer one kind of thing. And as Scorsese went on to say “still, I don’t know a single filmmaker who doesn’t want to design films for the big screen, to be projected before audiences in theatres.” The Civic Theatre will do its best to make the screen available to these artists.

I’m not sure what a single-screen in a small rural market can do in the grand scheme of things, but I do believe that if we value cinema as an art, as well as a big-screen thrill ride, we need to make an effort to see these works as they were intended. So, following up the current week’s independent selections, here is another filled with great independent and international titles. Here’s what we have opening this Friday.

Harriet, the story of heroic abolitionist Harriet Tubman and her escape from slavery and the dangerous missions she led to liberate hundreds of slaves through the Underground Railroad. Along with it we’ll play Bong Joon-ho’s Palme d’Or winning, Parasite. Punctuated by staircase scenes going from mouldy basements to top floors, it dissects the life of two families of different social backgrounds. And completing the roster, master Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar is back with his best film in years, the Palme d’Or-nominated Pain and Glory. A deeply personal work, Pain & Glory is pure Almodóvar: inventive and irreverent, poignant and exhilarating. Chronicling the existential odyssey of a filmmaker confronting the autumn of his life.

Empire magazine said Pain and Glory is “graced with career-best work from Antonio Banderas.” And the critique on RogerEbert.com concludes with “Art may be shaped by pain and life, but it also captures beauty and glory like nothing else.” Words that I’m sure Scorsese would appreciate.

Keep checking The Civic Theatre website, Facebook page and sign-up for our weekly newsletter and mark your calendars to come out to these and other cinematic works of art.

Jason Asbell is the resident bon vivant, cinephile, and program director at the Nelson Civic Theatre Society.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Caroline Lafond is a Recreation Fish and Wildlife student at Selkirk College. Photo: Submitted
Ecological Comment: Help keep the goats of Gimli wild

A column written by Recreation Fish and Wildlife students at Selkirk College

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

Interior Health reported 79 new cases of COVID-19 and two new death in the region Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (Ben Hohenstatt/Juneau Empire)
79 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths reported in Interior Health

Both of Friday’s deaths were both recorded at long-term care homes

Nelson Police responded to 802 calls last year they say had an element of mental health. File photo
Nelson Police: 802 mental-health related calls in 2020

That accounts for 12 per cent of total calls for service

Several large trees came down in the recent windstorm and destroyed a part of the building that houses Camp Koolaree’s showers and boy’s washroom. The camp has served generations of Kootenay families since 1931 as the Nelson area’s longest running children’s summer camp. Photo: Submitted
Camp Koolaree’s wash house destroyed by January windstorms

The camp is in need of donations to make repairs

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Most Read