On the night of July 25, 1958 I killed Ladislaw Zukarevitch, antique dealer, my mentor, my master in the art of polishing diamonds, my tutor at Warsaw Theological School. I got nothing out of this crime except the ring he offered me many times; several hundred marks; a collection of old coins, of no value; and a long letter where he advised me to leave the country.
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"Les Trois couronnes du matelot"/Three Crowns of the Sailor (1983) is the third of the three early Raoul Ruiz films on an indispensable Blaq Out set along with "L'Hypothèse du tableau volé" and "La Vocation suspendue" (see my remarks on the other two). This I liked almost as much as "Hypothesis" and wish I had had the time to watch it again; it gets perhaps a wee bit long, but on the whole it is a wonderfully delirious pastiche of various themes and visual tropes from Orson Welles (most specifically "Lady from Shanghai", "Mr. Arkadin" and towards the end, "The Trial"), film noir generally, Sternberg's "Macao" and other 40s-50s Hollywood-in-the-exotic-ports-of-call type pictures -- all filtered through Ruiz's wonderfully playful postmodern/magical realist sense of story. Like the two earlier features it is incredibly dense, self-serious on its face but self-mocking and amused when one delves deeper. Most of the film consists of a sailor -- in many respects as naive and reckless as Welles' Michael O'Hara -- telling his life story -- or stories, of adventures at sea, femmes fatale, murders, and money, always lots and lots of money -- to a young man in a spectacular restaurant/ballroom in Antwerp (I think). It's really mind-boggling, but in a very different way from the two earlier films in the set, and in many ways it's a good film to set you up for Manoel dans l'île des merveilles. The photography, in particular the black and white segments (those set in "present-day", in Antwerp) is quite striking and is the work of the great French cinematography Sacha Vierny, who had worked with Buñuel and Resnais among others, and went on to work with Greenaway. After seeing this early series of films, one can see that that -- like so many of the odd occurrences in so many early Ruiz films -- was no coincidence. DVD rental
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