In a mental institution the patients see themselves as people like Jesus, Lázaro, Marta, Maria, Adão, Eve, Sonia, Raskolnikov, Aliosha e Ivan Karamasov, a Philosopher, a Profet, Santa Teresa d’Avila, reciting the Divine Comedy. Continue reading
Commissioned to promote the sleepy Portuguese city of Guimarães as a 2012 European Capital of Culture, this omnibus curio brings together an illustrious quartet of international cinema auteurs and invites them to roam through picturesque town squares, abandoned industrial sites and the ghostly remains of national history. In the first segment, Finnish favorite Aki Kaurismaki, in customary deadpan mode, finds bleak humor in the comings and goings of a hapless café proprietor whose business and romantic prospects dwindle as he daydreams of dancing. Next, native son Pedro Costa deploys his rigorous formalism (static shots, unstinting gazes, disembodied speech) to interrogate a former Cape Verdean revolutionary who flees the unnerving accusations of a calcified soldier through dead-of-night forays into an enchanted forest. Continue reading
One of the most beautiful films ever made about aging. Voyage To The Beginning Of The World brings together 90-year-old Portuguese filmmaker Manoel de Oliveira and Italian icon Marcello Mastroianni, in what would be his last film. Playing a filmmaker clearly based on Oliveira, Mastroianni takes three actor friends on a driving tour of a mountain village, where one of the actors (Jean-Yves Gautier) is united with the elderly aunt he has never met.
Family becomes the link between the past and present, in a film of great simplicity, dignity and wisdom. Through Mastroianni, Oliveira speculates on beginnings and endings. The village is in the north (where the Portuguese nation began) on what remains of the past (a primitive wooden statue, the meaning of which has been lost) and on what disappears (the ruins of a hotel). The cinematography, by Renato Berta, is at once radiantly clear and surrealistically devoid of detail – as if what were seeing was already a recollection. (-Dave Kehr, NY Daily News – DVD Backcover) Continue reading
Manoel de Oliveira’s last (short) film.
In a city of the 21st century, Don Quichotte meets with the Portuguese poets Luis de Camoes, Teixeira de Pascoaes and Camilo Castelo Branco. Together they reflect about the art of writing, history, and the general vanity of human aspiration. Oliveira illustrates this with excerpts from some of his own films as well as Kozintsev’s 1957 “Don Quixote”. A beautiful, meditative film, and a fine conclusion to Oliveira’s career. Continue reading
Gebo (Lonsdale) is an elderly accountant who lives with his wife Doroteia (Cardinale) and his daughter-in-law Sofia (Silveira). Despite his advanced age and increasing fatigue, he continues to work to provide for his family. Doroteia is concerned for her son João (Trêpa), who has been missing for some time. Gebo and Sofia have some idea of João’s whereabouts, having spotted him begging and living in the streets. But Gebo, who doesn’t want to destroy Doroteia’s idealized version of her son, conceals the truth from her. When João returns to the family home, however, this falsehood proves to have disastrous consequences, as the prodigal son is unable to resist the temptation of a bag of money entrusted to Gebo’s keeping. Continue reading
The human condition is examined in this Portuguese French film with opens with a warning that informs the audience that the following is not a documentary but a moral tale about the anachronisms of modern society. The story, set in an aging neighborhood filled with interesting characters, focuses upon an old blind man and his daughter. Every day, the blind one sits in a doorway sells thread and begs. The daughter spends her days ironing and complaining. Their neighborhood is not a wealthy one, and many passerby are envious of the old beggars’ box of accumulated coins. It has been stolen before so the man and the daughter’s boyfriend keep an eye upon it. Tragedy ensues when the box does indeed disappear. Continue reading
Social class, prideful martyrdom, and a dollop of beautifully expansive landscape weave a tale of operatic proportions, both by plot and physically exhaustive standards, in veteran Manoel de Oliveira’s latest exploration of motivation. Marrying for money instead of childhood love, Camila (Leonor Baldaque) naïvely assumes the supposed epic and selfless attributes of Joan of Arc to deal with her husband’s infidelity and the consistent treatment of being irrelevant to the very people that encouraged the doomed match. Continue reading