João de Deus is the manager of an ice-cream shop owned by an ex-prostitute, Paraíso dos Gelados (Ice-Cream Paradise). Through a unmoved desire of perfection, he seeks, through cleansing and... See full summary »
João César Monteiro
João César Monteiro,
Manuela de Freitas
Every year the Viennale invites a famous director to produce a short film as the festival trailer. In 2014 the choice has fallen on the 105-year old Manoel de Oliveira. This year's trailer ... See full summary »
The film was to be a documentary, but evolved during production to a fictional film. It nevertheless adheres strictly to the poems and letters exchanged by two of the most outstanding names... See full summary »
Fernando Cabral Martins,
The latest issue of Britain's oldest film magazine, "Sight and Sound" to which I'm subscribed features a 5-page article commemorating the upcoming centenarian birthday of Portugal's finest film-maker, Manoel De Oliveira. In it, writer Jonathan Romney describes WORD AND UTOPIA as "grueling austere one of the most willfully uncommercial films ever".
In fact, this 'modest epic' (my words) feels remarkably like one of Roberto Rossellini's latter-day made-for-TV biopics of important medieval figures, dealing as it does with a controversial 16th century Jesuit priest from Portugal, Fr. Antonio Vieyra. He stood up for the exploited natives of the New World, which didn't go hand in hand with the Church practices of the time but nonetheless earned him a devout following. He was also a respected theologian and orator (as amply displayed by the philosophical script); at one point, he's brought before the Queen (Oliveira regular Leonor Silveira) in a speechifying 'duel' with another well-known speaker of the era!
The film follows his life and career from inexperienced novice to missionary, to luminary and martyr, up till his final days of progressively failing health and eyesight (during which he still strives to assemble for posterity both his past speeches as well as the history of his order). While the subject matter clearly isn't the most enticing and Oliveira's customarily unassuming style doesn't allow for much dramatic development, this still emerges a fairly interesting character study (with a suitably ardent lead performance) though it's a decidedly long haul at 130 minutes.
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