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

Manoel de Oliveira – A Caça AKA The Hunt (1964)

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“A caça” is one Oliveira’s most distressing and mysterious films. Two boys, Roberto and José, enter a hunting ground, flooded with marshes. José falls into a quagmire and Roberto runs to the village looking for help. The locals form a human chain to save the victim…

“I conceived ‘A caça’ after reading in a newspaper that a boy was sucked down into a pit of quicksand and the other, due to fear, fled without helping him. The movie is based on this event.” In this laconic way, Oliveira summarizes his purpose. His first intention was to make a feature film about such an anguishing event. Continue reading

João Botelho – Tempos Difíceis AKA Hard Times (1988)

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Even if adapted from Dickens’ Hard Times, the writer’s world fits perfectly in the Portuguese reality of these times. In a hamlet, that functions as a social microcosms, great wealth & extreme poverty mingle, so do culture, ignorance, perversion & ignorance. Griffith’s channelled via Júlia Britton. Continue reading

Manoel de Oliveira – O Velho do Restelo AKA The Old Man of Belem (2014)

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Glory is often met with opposition, and whether victorious or defeated, we always hold fate responsible. Don Quixote de La Mancha came along sixteen years after the defeat of the Invincible Fleet and has erred the Earth ever since. Today he will join a meeting between old friends in the garden of eternity, in which the glories of the past and the uncertainty of the future will be thoroughly discussed. Continue reading

Manoel de Oliveira – Visita ou Memórias e Confissões AKA Memories and Confessions (1982/2015)

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73-year-old De Oliveira decides to make a personal movie that his audience will only know once heis dead. In 1982, the director takes the decision to make a movie about (and in) his (ex) house, in which he lived for over 40 years. The initial still shot is held for a long while with the presence oftrees in the garden of his house in Oporto. De Oliveira himself introduces the film and speaks all the credits out. The voices of a man and a woman guide us for most of the first part, in a sort of preliminary and formal tour around the totality of the house. They remain out of frame and the camera perspective is not necessarily theirs. After a few minutes, we see De Oliveira for the first time, writing on a typewriter at his desk. The most surprising element, in narrative terms, is the recreation of his arrest and his stay in a dungeon in times of the Portuguese military regime, during the 60s. Right from the start, the word memoryis a relevant operative term; the confession becomes explicit around half through the film. Continue reading

João Salaviza – Montanha (2015)

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A hot summer in Lisbon. David, 14, awaits the imminent death of his grandfather, but refuses to visit him, fearing this terrible loss. His mother, Mónica, spends her nights at the hospital. The void already left by his grandfather forces David to become the man of the house. He doesn’t feel ready to assume this new role, but without realizing it, the more he tries to avoid adulthood the more he gets close to it… Continue reading

Rita Azevedo Gomes – Frágil Como o Mundo (2002)

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An impossible love. Two young people in love. Vera and John can’t find a space nor time, nor identity in this life that can solve this love. Apparently everything is beneficial to them, their families, friends and the land where they live. The issue is time. The time they don’t actually have (studies, families, distant houses) and the time of their own life – being so young they are subject to what that life brought upon them, that’s when the “story” of the film begins, therefore linked to a life that until then was not chosen by them. This is one reason, which leads to a runaway process. Escape in the possible return to this world. Continue reading