In a bar in Santiago, two old men talk over their past. This is a strange discussion. In fact, they talk of themselves as if they were dead. We don't know what is true or false, what is dream or reality.
After the Portuguese government demolishes his slum and relocates him to a housing project on the outskirts of Lisbon, 75-year-old Cape Verde immigrant Ventura wanders between his new and ... See full summary »
At a wake one night in 1945, a group of aged women recall the life of one of their number. Sixty years before, Thérèse was barely 20 years old when she eloped with her boyfriend, Firmin, a ... See full summary »
A father (Michel Piccoli) is scheming to have his slightly mental daughter from an earlier marriage (Elsa Zylberstein) killed by allowing a murderous psychopath (Bernard Giraudeau) to be ... See full summary »
Pierre, a middle-aged tourist guide, is the victim of a sudden failure : he does not recognize anything about him any longer. He goes back home and in his apartment he finds a mysterious ... See full summary »
The film takes us on a dreamlike journey in an imaginary land, Cofralandes, a country at the end of the world, or, if one prefers, outside the world. Far-off Chile is shown through the eyes of three travellers: a Frenchman, a German and an Englishman. Accompanying them is a camera behind which is a narrator: a Chilean who re-discovers the strange country that is his homeland - land of dreams and nightmares. Extravagant characters appear before the camera, unusual situations are created, and images are invented from a place whose sweetness wounds and kills; a country whose sole distinctive sign is precisely absence; a place where the absence of colour is the local colour. And yet, little by little, from this sort of Sargasso Sea, images and situations emerge here and there in which pleasure and uncontrollable laughter are revealed as jolly companions to pain and incertitude - but also in which a massacre lurks in a child's poem and an earthquake, in a smile.
This is the first part of Ruiz's wonderful shot-on-DV film-essay COFRALANDES, CHILEAN RHAPSODY (aka IMPRESSIONS OF CHILE). As with many of his "no-budget" efforts, it inhabits an odd twilit zone of its own where sudden sojourns into the worlds of fiction and documentary begin and end without warning. There is a nominal plot setup involving a Frenchman, a German, an Englishman and a Chilean but, interspersed with Ruiz's trademark absurdist sketches (only some of which he had to devise), we also have talking heads reflecting on Chile's national character, language, literature, landscape and all manner of minutiae of yesteryear. The more you know about Chilean culture, however, the less surreal all this seems and the more playful, droll and melancholic it becomes. I would recommend Cofralandes ("the land of plenty") to anyone interested in exploring Chilean national identity or the potential of digital video. The director's fans should also see it for this is definitely Ruiz at his most radical. A possible influence on Godard's FILM SOCIALISME.
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