Haro, June 29 (AP/UNB) — Getting drenched with red wine might not be everyone's idea of fun, but it is the idea behind one of Spain's most popular — and unusual — fiestas.
The town of Haro staged the annual Wine Battle in Spain's Rioja wine-growing region on Saturday.
Organizers say the aim is to "cover your neighbor in wine as quickly and completely as you can."
After an early morning Mass is held, participants throw wine over each other while music plays until the 70,000 liters (18,500 gallons) of free wine run out.
Among the rules for those taking part: they must wear white, with a red sash; they may use wine-filled water pistols, garden sprayers or buckets; and at no point during the battle can they stop laughing and singing.
Thousands of people come away from Haro's vineyards and woodland soaked from head to toe.
The event is held to celebrate St. Peter and the region's plentiful wine output. It ends with a big lunch.
The festival draws mostly young visitors, from as far away as Australia.
New York, June 29 (AP/UNB) — How does one willingly, even eagerly, walk into a sunlit nightmare like Ari Aster's "Midsommar"? For Florence Pugh, the motivation came while watching the camera zoom between Toni Collette's legs in a particularly balletic moment during the feverish climax of Aster's debut, "Hereditary."
"I remember imagining what she would have had to do. I thought: 'Yeah, I really want to be a part of this,'" recalls Pugh. "It's not like I go: 'I really want to play a lady who goes insane in a field.'"
In "Midsommar," Pugh stars as Dani Ardor, a grief-stricken college student who shortly after her family is killed in a grisly manner, joins her long-term boyfriend (Jack Reynor) and his friends on a summer trip to the pastoral Swedish compound of Harga. She goes full of existential dread and relationship anxiety; their inevitable break-up has been merely postponed by Dani's tragedy. The increasingly dark and hallucinogenic pagan rituals of a seemingly idyllic ancient Swedish cult, it turns out, are less than ideal couples therapy.
The movie, which A24 will release in theaters Wednesday, wasn't a natural choice for Pugh, the 23-year-old British actress. She doesn't like horror movies. But she was drawn by the precision of Aster's choreography, the brokenness of his characters and the appeal of jumping down a twisted rabbit hole.
"There was something about her insanity at the end that I knew I would enjoy, and I knew I needed to do," Pugh said in a recent interview. "I had never played anyone like that before and that was so exciting. She doesn't get better. She gets more confused but in that confusion, she is released. And that is fascinating."
In her short and rapidly expanding career, Pugh has shown a knack for transformation. She has played characters who, with or without sanity intact, come into their own. In her 2017 breakthrough, William Oldroyd's "Lady Macbeth," she played a fiery young Victorian woman who, having been married into a pitiless and drab English household, madly seizes her own freedom. In Stephen Merchant's "Fighting With my Family," released earlier this year, she played a working-class English girl who conquers long odds and self-doubt to become a WWE professional wrestler.
"There's always something appealing about a change and about someone brewing into their own body and into their own self," says Pugh.
It would be convenient to say that Pugh, too, is brewing into herself. And that's true to a certain extent. Days after Pugh spoke, she was to begin production on Marvel's Black Widow standalone film, co-starring alongside Scarlett Johansson. Later this year, she'll co-star in Greta Gerwig's "Little Women," one of the year's most anticipated films. Her fame is set to grow exponentially.
But Pugh also seems already fully formed. She grew up in a large, creative family in Oxford. Her mother teaches dance and two of her siblings also act, including Toby Sebastian who appeared in "Game of Thrones." She has a poise and directness to her that, combined with the vibrancy of her performances, has frequently led to comparisons to Kate Winslet.
"Florence is kind of supernaturally confident," says Aster. "She's really not like Dani at all. Those meeker qualities are nowhere to be found in Florence's personality."
It was "Lady Macbeth" that put Pugh on Aster's radar. They initially Skyped together to discuss the film, but things only came together after the director had gone through hundreds of auditions.
"I just had a very strong feeling about her after seeing 'Lady Macbeth.' In 'Lady Macbeth, she plays this impenetrable, poised, calculating sociopathic woman. But I could see her doing this which is almost the polar opposite," Aster says. "And also there is a trajectory in the film. I was excited to see her realize that arc."
The part was close to Aster; the 32-year-old New York filmmaker based Dani on himself. Just as the terrors of "Hereditary" emerged from family dynamics, the folk-horror of "Midsommar" is predicated on a break-up. Aster wrote it in the aftermath of a college split that, like "Midsommar," mingled emotional pain with psychedelics. Aster conceives of the film as a bad trip.
"In college I did mushrooms a few times and I did have a couple very, very bad trips. I was also in a place in my life where it wasn't a smart idea to do it. Nothing like what she's going through, but in the same way that she probably shouldn't be taking mushrooms, I probably shouldn't have either," says Aster. "I've made a bit of a personal tradition out of writing when I'm in crisis. A lot of these screenplays were inadvertent therapy for me."
Pugh's performance is multi-layered. Her Dani is haunted by an unfathomable sorrow, anxious with insecurity in her relationship and riddled with confusion at her surroundings. She's utterly alone, in the strangest of places.
"I knew that her grief, her pain, her constant tightrope of avoiding emotions, it needed to be exactly how someone would deal with the scenario they were in. And I've never come close to feeling any of that. In my life, I've never witnessed grief like that or seen someone go through that level of pain," says Pugh. "To get it perfect, I knew, would be so exhilarating and the payoff would be a fantastic feeling — which it was."
To say too much about that payoff would spoil it, but suffice to say, it comes with Dani outfitted head-to-toe in a gown of flowers.
"I was a Christmas pudding but of flowers. I mean, that's mental," she says, laughing and then shrugging. "That's why I do what I do."
Peter Parker might be forgiven for craving a vacation as "Spider-Man: Far From Home" begins. After an emotional and strenuous last few movies with the Avengers, a break sounds nice. "I didn't think I had to save the world this summer," he complains.
But, you know the drill: With great power comes great responsibility. So it's just a matter of time before Parker's European school trip is interrupted by mayhem that requires a webslinger. We're just glad the filmmakers didn't also take a vacation as well.
In this ambitious and ultimately successful sequel to "Spider-Man: Homecoming," Parker trades New York's Coney Island and the Staten Island ferry for such iconic cities as Venice, Berlin, London and Prague. Seeing him swing from ancient bell towers instead of Manhattan skyscrapers is weirdly thrilling.
The first half of "Spider-Man: Far From Home " could stand alone — Parker juggles trying to romance the tough-but-vulnerable MJ (the always welcome Zendaya) while also fighting giant monsters beside a ragtag group of superheroes. Perhaps it's a little underwhelming, but it's solid. Just stick around: Things get positively bizarre in the second half as the film shifts up a few gears, turning into a kind of commentary on filmmaking illusion itself. It goes from sunny pop to acid jazz, from "Saved By the Bell" to "The Matrix."
Speaking of school, viewers who haven't yet seen "Avengers: Endgame" have some homework to do before watching Tom Holland pull on the red-and-blue suit this time. "Far From Home" takes place immediately after the meta-conclusion of all 22 films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and assumes you know what happened. Plus, it might be a school night, but don't even think about leaving the theater before catching the two post-film codas.
Director Jon Watts returns, adding to the great work he did in the first film, and screenwriters Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers, who helped write "Homecoming," make their own homecoming. So does Jon Favreau playing Happy Hogan, Marisa Tomei as Aunt May and Jacob Batalon as Parker's best pal, who this time ditches the nerdiness to show off a man-of-the-world Ned.
Borrowed from elsewhere in the Marvel Universe are Cobie Smulders as S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Maria Hill and a snarling Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. Spider-Man gets to play this time with a pair of high-tech eyeglasses that are an advanced tactical intelligence system, much like he interacted last time with his suit's computer, Karen. (Alas, no cameo this time from Stan Lee, the Marvel icon who died in 2018).
Jake Gyllenhaal, who has proven to be an actor of tremendous range, is a newcomer to the superhero genre but proves a comfortable fit despite being asked to wear one of Marvel's oddest costumes. As Mysterio, he dons a huge cape, Roman Empire breastplate, giant gauntlets and a big glass bubble over his face like an upside-down goldfish bowl. But as Will Smith might say, Gyllenhaal makes this look good.
Credit to him and costume designer Anna B. Sheppard, who has concocted four Spider-Man suits, including a "stealth" one that gets him the nickname Night Monkey in Europe. And the trippy visual effects that stun in the second half connect not to the first film but to "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" — a huge complement since that one was animated.
But let's be honest: The thing keeping this together is Holland. He is utterly endearing as a goofy, insecure now-16-year-old hero with a cracked cellphone and who often makes things worse, apologizing along the way. Holland's aw-shucks naiveté is a 1950-ish throwback even though he is firmly in 2019 — taking selfies while in the air and having to be reminded to not text and swing at the same time. He is indeed a Spidey for Generation Z and its fitting that he hits the reset button for Marvel.
"Spider-Man: Far From Home," a Sony Pictures release, is rated PG-13 for "sci-fi action violence, some language and brief suggestive comments." Running time: 127 minutes. Three stars out of four.
MPAA Definition of PG-13: Parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
For over two hours you will be transported to a beautiful village in the middle of nowhere in a foreign land where the sun never seems to set and everyone is wearing ornate flower crowns and enchantingly embroidered frocks. The details of why you're there will seem fuzzy and dubious. Someone's thesis, maybe? But you go along with it even when things start getting weird.
You will eat strange food and drink strange drinks. You will take drugs you don't want and be subjected to ceremonies and rituals and a language you don't understand. You will witness some of the most disturbing things you've ever seen. You will not be too concerned when people start disappearing. You will lose the ability to rely on your one anchor to the real world. And even though you will barely comprehend what's going on around you, you won't be able to leave or look away.
Writer and director Ari Aster is to thank, or blame, for this extraordinary experience that's equal parts befuddling and enthralling. It's only Aster's second feature film following the terrifying family drama "Hereditary" and it's clear that the talent and deranged verve he teased there was no fluke.
But enter with caution: "Midsommar" is not as straightforward a horror as "Hereditary" was. It's hazier and harder to grasp, despite taking place almost entirely in blunt daylight. This is an experiment in escalating uneasiness absent any release or catharsis.
As in "Hereditary," a family tragedy sets an ominous tone, but this time it hits you right at the beginning before you've gotten to know anyone. We meet Dani (Florence Pugh) while she is frantically trying to contact her family to make sure her sister is OK, but no one is responding. It's the worst possible outcome.
Unfortunately for her the only person she has for comfort is a boyfriend, Christian (Jack Reynor), who has already broken up with her in his mind but hasn't gotten around to communicating that to her just yet. Too bad for Christian and his unsympathetic friends (Will Poulter, William Jackson Harper, Vilhelm Blomgren) Dani's family crisis makes the otherwise imminent split all but impossible. So, Dani, a haunted shell of a human, becomes a permanent fixture at Christian's side, even going so far as to accompany the four guys on their bro trip to the Swedish commune where one of them was raised for a midsummer festival that happens every 90 years.
Aster literally turns the camera upside down as the five travel to this blindingly bright area. It helps you arrive a little queasy and disoriented (although not quite as much as the characters, who've just ingested some psychedelic mushrooms).
Still, the drug-induced visions are nothing compared to what they will experience as clear-minded tourists in this village, which at first seems like a quirky novelty. But as with so many chic cults, there is unfathomably grotesque violence and brutality lurking underneath the Instagram-worthy aesthetics. Aster lures you in with relative normalcy, including often very funny dialogue and situational absurdity as the Americans try to fit in in this world. But before you know it, it's too late to turn back and you're stuck patiently watching this floral paradise curdle into a pagan inferno.
"Midsommar" is audacious filmmaking and totally transfixing despite its lengthy runtime. It's heartening to know that big, original cinematic swings like this have not gone extinct.
And yet, as with Jordan Peele's highly anticipated sophomore feature "Us," ''Midsommar" might not actually add up to anything especially satisfying, or completely coherent, in the end. Aster also curiously reuses some of the striking images he used so effectively in "Hereditary," such as pagan iconography and starkly naked and desexualized bodies. And somehow these characters never evoke empathy on par with the "Hereditary" ensemble.
But the journey is fascinating enough that it's still worth the trip. And by that point you'll probably just be grateful that you're finally allowed to wake up.
"Midsommar," an A24 release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for disturbing ritualistic violence and grisly images, strong sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and language. Running time 140 minutes. Three stars out of four.
Los Angeles, June 29 (AP/UNB) — There are more days ahead for "One Day at a Time."
The CBS Corp.-owned cable channel Pop TV says Thursday it's greenlighted a new season of the reboot canceled by Netflix.
In a statement, Pop TV President Brad Schwartz called the series both "culturally significant" and funny.
The original 1975-84 sitcom about a single white mom was reimagined with a Latino family at its center, a TV rarity.
Justina Machado stars as Penelope Alvarez, a Cuban American parent and military veteran, with Rita Moreno playing her mother, Lydia.
"One Day at a Time" was dropped by Netflix earlier this year after three seasons, prompting an outcry from fans. The streaming service said not enough people watched the show to justify renewing it.
Famed producer Norman Lear, who co-created the original series and is executive producer on the remake, said he was "heartbroken" when it was canceled.
"Today, I'm overwhelmed with joy to know the Alvarez family will live on," Lear said in a statement.
Pop TV says the new 13-episode season is planned for 2020.