Page 2 October 3, 2019
Entertainment Wiseburn Board Views
A Director Reflects on His Prolific
Past in Pain and Glory
By Jane Greenstein for Cinemacy.com
Pedro Almodóvar’s Pain and Glory, opening
this Friday, is a lovely rumination on life,
death, love and, of course, pain and glory
(although the latter hard-won and not cherished).
It would be easy to consume this film
as an autobiography. This, after all, is a tale
of a middle-aged film director experiencing
a creative block brought on by both physical
and seemingly spiritual pain after decades of
prolific filmmaking. It’s made by the 70-yearold
Almodóvar whose long and winding
career has produced its share of masterpieces
including Women on the Verge of a Nervous
Breakdown and Oscar winners All About My
Mother and Talk to Her, along with other
films that never caught fire with the public.
While there’s plenty in Pain and Glory
that’s self-referential (including the use of
the director’s flat, wardrobe and furniture)
there’s also ample evidence that this is, as
one character calls it, “autofiction.” Only at
the end is the line between reality and fantasy
drawn, but by then you’ll have gone on such
a fantastic ride that it will hardly matter.
Antonio Banderas, Almodóvar’s frequent
alter ego, has never been better. This time,
he plays Salvador Mallo, a director sidelined
by crippling pain that he is pacifying with
a recently acquired heroin habit. Though
not to worry—this tale isn’t told through a
drug-infused haze, but rather with a crystal
clear and deeply colorful lens.
The first third of the film’s action begins
around Salvador’s decision on whether and
with whom to attend a tribute screening
of his classic ‘80s film, Sabor. But this is
merely a device to set off a string of events
that lead the director to look back when he
can’t propel himself forward. “Without filmmaking,
my life is meaningless,” he says, yet
it’s unclear what will motivate him to regain
his creative footing.
The film skips through three periods of
Salvador’s life: His childhood in the ‘60s,
when he and his impoverished parents lived
in caves in Valencia, Spain and he fell for a
neighborhood laborer; his adulthood in ‘80s
Madrid when his great, though tragic love
affair occurred; and the present, where we
see him become increasingly isolated and
crippled psychologically as much as his
body is physically impeded. Through these
reflections, we learn about how his identity
was formed, how he acquired his love for
cinema, and his deep and stinging passions
The other guiding force of Pain and
Glory, as is always the case with Almodóvar,
is his palette of vibrant colors that bring
magic to this film. The reds, greens, blues
and bright patterns are alive in every
scene, whether it be the operating room, an
abandoned train station, the Valencia cave
where the young Salvador and his family
reside, or the dresses and scarves that
his mother (played in her younger days
by another Almodóvar regular, Penelope
If Pain and Glory proves to be Almodóvar’s
swan song, he’s going out in a blaze of
glory. This is as profound, moving and
deeply engaging as a film you’re likely to
see this year. It stands as another masterpiece
from this Spanish auteur who is never afraid
to examine his own foibles and frailties with
a vision that few of his filmmaking disciples
can come close to attaining. •
Pain and Glory, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
By Duane Plank
The only special presentation at last Thursday’s
Wiseburn School Board meeting was
from elementary counselors Dr. Monique
Ingram and Julie Walker, who spoke of their
Counseling and Access to Resources in Education
(CARE) program. A major component of
the counseling program is dealing with issues
involving students deemed “at-risk” for certain
issues. The presentation was well-timed,
with a recent article noting that 20 percent of
high school students who had responded to
a survey had contemplated suicide.
The presentation began with the duo delineating
their three-tiered pyramid programs goals
and foundation for action that starts with all
students on the bottom tier, students with some
risk factors listed on the second tier, and the
top tier targeting those perceived at high risk.
The presentation noted goals, including supporting
academic and social/emotional growth;
embracing diversity while acknowledging
individual need; building partnerships; and
promoting a family-like atmosphere.
Ingram and Walker shared the results of
need assessment surveys at the three Wiseburn
Unified School District elementary schools in
which teachers had participated, giving their
opinions on myriad areas where students
need to build skills. Areas listed included
self-control, bullying, expressing feelings,
promoting confidence, and communication.
The presenters spoke about supports offered
to date, including parent/guardian coffee with
the CARE team at all school sites, parent
workshops and PTA presentations, intakes
with new and existing families, and crisis
support and collaboration.
“I am excited about the work that they have
done,” Superintendent Dr. Blake Silvers said
prior to the meeting. “It has really brought a
comprehensive approach to counseling and
student health at the elementary level. The
goal for us as a school district should be
addressing kids’ social and emotional states
early on their lives so that we can continue
to support well-prepared students. Early
intervention is key. I believe we are on the
cutting edge of elementary mental health
by bringing in two phenomenal experts in
The presenters said they were excited that
students had finally arrived on campus, and
that they could meet with them. It was noted
that the Care team tried to be as visible as
possible to the students and staff in the rollout
of the new program.
Juan Carbrillo Elementary Principal Lisa
Wilberg next praised the Cabrillo PTA for
its tireless work in helping to raise money
in the recent Jog-A-Thon.
During member reports, Dr. Neil Goldman
said he attended a District Facilities Master
Planning meeting and called it a “good opportunity,
a positive day,” in planning what
is upcoming for the District. He added “We
are privileged to be a school of choice,”
but he also wanted to gather information
on why Wiseburn had lost some students in
the 2019/20 school year. He thought it was
an “exploration worth pursuing… why did
certain students not stay in the District?”
Board President JoAnne Kaneda spoke
about the success of the recent STEM event
involving students working with corporate
mentors and said she received a request
to try to involve students who may be not
versed in, or “afraid” of delving into, STEM
In his comments, Silvers spoke about
the recent story about students who have
considered suicide. He gave kudos to the
start-up work of the CARE team, citing how
important it is to have “early and successful
interventions.” He also spoke about student
retention and the need to face that challenge.
He mentioned the recent R. H. Dana Middle
School open house, and how the District
teachers instill a tremendous environment
for students and parents.
A somewhat skinny approval agenda
faced the Board during the 70-minute meeting.
Among items confirmed: Approval of
new Da Vinci School Board member Karen
Latuner. Wiseburn Board member Nelson
Martinez said 18 candidates applied for the
position, and that the process took three
months. Member Israel Mora said he was
“blown away” by the applicant’s skillsets.
Member Roger Banuelos called the applicants
“She is a known entity,” Silvers said of
Lautner’s selection while citing her help in
rolling-out and supporting the District’s Project
Lead the Way Program. “We are happy and
excited to have her onboard with our partner
Also ratified was the selection of Dr. Nisha
Dugal as the interim principal at Dana
Middle School for the next four months or
so. The Board also passed a resolution to
recognize the retirement of Michael Spiwak,
who retired after 24 years of service.
Silvers said that there is a “gaping hole in
the community” with the retirement of the
longtime kindergarten teacher at Juan Cabrillo
Elementary. He called Spiwak a “Wiseburn
advocate, a Cabrillo advocate, and a kid
advocate. He helped promote unity in the
community [which is] one of the things that
makes Wiseburn a special place to work.”
The next regularly scheduled Board meeting
is being bumped up a day to Wednesday,
Oct. 9. •
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