Pedro Costa

Pedro Costa – Ossos AKA Bones (1997)

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The first film in Pedro Costa’s transformative trilogy about Fontainhas, an impoverished quarter of Lisbon, Ossos is a tale of young lives torn apart by desperation. After a suicidal teenage girl gives birth, she misguidedly entrusts her baby’s safety to the troubled, deadbeat father, whose violent actions take the viewer on a tour of the foreboding, crumbling shantytown in which they live. With its reserved, shadowy cinematography by Emmanuel Machuel (who collaborated with Bresson on L’argent), Ossos is a haunting look at a devastated community. Read More »

Pedro Costa – No Quarto da Vanda AKA In Vanda’s Room (2000)

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For the extraordinarily beautiful second film in his Fontainhas trilogy, Pedro Costa jettisoned his earlier films’ larger crews to burrow even deeper into the Lisbon ghetto and the lives of its desperate inhabitants. With the intimate feel of a documentary and the texture of a Vermeer painting, In Vanda’s Room takes an unflinching, fragmentary look at a handful of self-destructive, marginalized people, but is centered around the heroin-addicted Vanda Duarte. Costa presents the daily routines of Vanda and her neighbors with disarming matter-of-factness, and through his camera, individuals whom many would deem disposable become vivid and vital. This was Costa’s first use of digital video, and the evocative images he created remain some of the medium’s most astonishing.—The Criterion Collection Read More »

Pedro Costa – Ne change rien (2009)

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In Ne change rien, we see the French actress/singer Jeanne Balibar rehearsing, recording, performing and practicing with a singing coach for an opera bouffe by Jacques Offenbach. The Portuguese director Pedro Costa, a friend of Balibar’s who did the camera work himself, filmed her in long, static shots in which all attention is focused on her performance. This film, shot digitally, shows how versatile Balibar is. Costa also manages to portray the creative process, for instance in a scene in which Balibar and her guitarist Rodolphe Burger try out several variations of a song. Costa’s intimate portrait of the singer is filmed in black-and-white. Costa, who is celebrating his 50th birthday this year and who made his debut in 1989 with the feature O sangue, has seen many of his films screened in Rotterdam over the years. Read More »

Pedro Costa – O Sangue AKA Blood (1989)

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Vicente, seventeen, lives with brother Nino, ten-years-old, and his ailing father in a derelict house on the outskirts of the capital. They don’t seem to remember their mother, and are very much attached to their father, despite his temper, and his frequent absences from home. One day, the father leaves for good, and Vicente and Nino swear to cover it up. It’s their secret. Clara, the primary school assistant, is fascinatingly beautiful, and secretive, and (may be) she knows it aswel. There are other secrets, though: the origin of the money that appears at Vicente’s house; the relationship between Vicente’s well-to-do uncle and his girlfriend; the relationship between the four people who once played the cards together, and now can’t stand each other. Read More »

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. Read More »

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. Read More »

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 Read More »