Eugène Green – A Religiosa Portuguesa AKA The Portuguese Nun (2009)

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Filmmaker Eugene Green pays homage to Manoel de Oliveira, a Portuguese director whose had a profound influence on his style, with this drama of a woman eager for a new lease on life. Julie (Leonor Baldaque) is a French actress who is still nursing a broken heart after a bad breakup with her boyfriend. Julie travels to Lisbon to begin work on her latest project, in which she’ll play the title role in a screen adaptation of the novel Letters of a Portuguese Nun. Julie is fascinated with Lisbon, and spends much of her spare time exploring the city, and she opens herself up to encounters with a wealthy and prominent man (Diogo Dória) as well as one of her fellow actors (Adrien Michaux). However, Julie learns the most about herself and her heart when she strikes up a friendship with a local boy who has lost his parents (Francisco Mozos), enjoys some long conversations with a nun (Ana Moreira) who is advising the production, and learns to love Portugal’s native fado music. A Religiosa Portuguesa (aka The Portuguese Nun) was an official selection at the 2009 BFI London Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi Continue reading

Miguel Gomes – Cántico das criaturas AKA Canticle of all Creatures (2006)

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Synopsis
Assis 2005: a troubadour walks the streets of St. Francis of Assisi hometown, singing and playing the Song of Brother Sun or Song of the Creatures, written by St. Francis back in the winter of 1224. Woods of Umbria, 1212: during one preaching to the birds, St. Francis suddenly faints. Reanimated by St. Clare, the saint looks strange and absent and he doesn’t remember anything. When the night falls, the animals in the forest sing and praise Francis. But this love sung by the animals leads to a feeling of possession, a desire of exclusivity usually known as jealousy. Continue reading

Miguel Gomes – Redemption (2013)

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Synopsis
On January 21st 1975, in a village in the north of Portugal, a child writes to his parents who are in Angola to tell them how sad Portugal is. On July 13th 2011, in Milan, an old man remembers his first love. On May 6th 2012, in Paris, a man tells his baby daughter that he will never be a real father. During a wedding ceremony on September 3rd 1977 in Leipzig, the bride battles against a Wagner opera that she can’t get out of her head.
But where and when have these four poor devils begun searching for redemption? Continue reading

Miguel Gomes – As Mil e Uma Noites: Volume 3, O Encantado AKA Arabian Nights: Volume 3, The Enchanted One (2015)

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In which Scheherazade doubts that she will still be able to tell stories to please the King, given that what she has to tell weighs three thousand tons. She therefore escapes from the palace and travels the kingdom in search of pleasure and enchantment. Her father, the Grand-Vizier, arranges to meet her at the Ferris wheel and Scheherazade resumes her narration: O auspicious King, in old shanty towns of Lisbon there was a community of bewitched men who, with all dedication and passion, devoted themselves to teaching birds to sing… And seeing the morning break, Scheherazade fell silent. [Kino Lorber] Continue reading

Miguel Gomes – As Mil e Uma Noites: Volume 2, O Desolado AKA Arabian Nights: Volume 2, The Desolate One (2015)

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In which Scheherazade tells of how desolation invaded men: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that a distressed judge will cry instead of giving out her sentence on a night when all three moons are aligned. A runaway murderer will wander through the land for over forty days and will tele transport himself to escape the Police while dreaming of prostitutes and partridges. A wounded cow will reminisce about a thousand-year-old olive tree while saying what she must say, which will sound none less than sad! The residents of a tower block in the suburbs will save parrots and piss inside lifts while surrounded by dead people and ghosts; including in fact a dog that… And seeing the morning break, Scheherazade fell silent. Damned tales! If things continue this way my daughter will surely end up with her throat slit! the Grand-Vizier, Scheherazade’s father, thinks in his palace in Baghdad. [Kino Lorber] Continue reading

Miguel Gomes – As Mil e Uma Noites: Volume 1, O Inquieto AKA Arabian Nights: Volume 1, The Restless One (2015)

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In which Scheherazade tells of the restlessness that befell the country: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that in a sad country among all countries, where people dream of mermaids and whales, and unemployment is spreading. In certain places, forests burn into the night despite the falling rain; men and women long to set out to sea in the middle of winter. Sometimes there are animals that talk although it is highly improbable that they are listened to. In this country, where things are not what they appear to be, men of power promenade on camels and hide permanent and shameful erections; they await the moment when taxes are collected so they can pay a certain wizard whom… And seeing the morning break, Scheherazade fell silent. [Kino Lorber] Continue reading

João Nicolau – A Espada e a Rosa AKA The Sword and the Rose (2010)

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Manuel flees from his tax debts and ends up on a ship on which some people want to earn their living as pirates. Also on board is a mysterious substance called Plutex that can destroy the world, unless they fall into the wrong hands. This is the prelude to a completely crazy journey that is somewhere between dream, chaos and musicals. Continue reading