Pedro Costa – Cavalo Dinheiro AKA Horse Money (2014)

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A phantasmagorical vision of psychological purgatory, Horse Money (Cavalo dinheiro) will enrapture some while leaving others dangling in frustrated limbo. Only the sixth fictional feature from Portuguese writer-director Pedro Costa in the quarter-century since his 1989 debut Blood, its austere opacity will convert few to the Costa cause. But it will undoubtedly confirm his exalted status among cinephiles and cineastes as an inspirationally uncompromising and uncompromised auteur.

Winner of Best Director at Locarno and confirmed for North American festival play at Toronto and New York, this tenebrous meander around one man’s troubled psyche will likely emulate its predecessor Colossal Youth (2006) by scoring limited theatrical exposure in receptive territories off the back of what is, by this stage regarding Costa, near-automatic critical adulation. Continue reading

Aki Kaurismäki, Pedro Costa, Víctor Erice, Manoel de Oliveira – Centro Histórico (2012)

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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

Pedro Costa – O Nosso Homem AKA Our Man (2010)

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Synopsis
O Nosso Homem (Our Man) is a short variation in the line of the trilogy Pedro Costa has devoted to the habitants of the Fontainhas quarter, which has been destroyed in the meantime. It can be considered as a sort of appendix to the third part, Juventude en Marcha (Colossal Youth), in which the hero, Ventura, reappears as one of the four characters of this dialogue of hopelessness. They go their own way, from one setting to another, from the darkest to the brightest, carried by this lavishness of frames and timbres of light that once made Jacques Rancière (writing about Juventude en Marcha) say that “the faith in the art which attests to the greatness of the poor – the greatness of each and every man – shines here more than ever. But it does not assimilate it anymore to an affirmation of a greeting Continue reading