On September 27, 1810, the French troops commanded by Marshal Massena, were defeated in the Serra do Buçaco by the Anglo-Portuguese army of general Wellington. Despite the victory, ... See full summary »
Eve's husband Paul, disappears mysteriously one day and leaves behind a huge debt. As the police investigates the case, Paul's former associate Chollet offers Eve his support. Little later Chollet becomes himself a suspect.
Come to the Village of the Dogs, it's easy to find. Just follow the avenue of crutches and the prosthetic legs hanging from the trees. It's where the Virgin Mary keeps appearing in the sky.... See full summary »
Manuel's fantasy travel through Time goes from Long Ago (Episode 1 - O jardim proibido / Le Jardin interdit) through Now (Episode 2 - O pique-nique dos sonhos / Le Pique-nique des rêves), ... See full summary »
Ruben de Freitas,
Take a walk into the weird world of filmmaker Raul Ruiz as he takes us to Paris for a twisted ride. A man who shares four names and four personalities (which is the real one?) is the link ... 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 »
A compelling biography of Portuguese poet Florbela Espanca. Tainted by a number of divorces in the 1920's, Florbela resorts to her writing, filled with eroticism and femininity, to cope ... See full summary »
In the summer, 27 year-old Sam drives towards the south of France in his Ford. He meets Matthieu and his sister Léa and takes them along in his apparently aimless journey. Matthieu has a ... See full summary »
An embittered law student commits a brutal double murder; a family man takes the fall and is forced into a harsh prison sentence; a mother and her two children wander the countryside looking for some kind of redemption.
It's almost a miracle to find a film like this one in theaters nowadays. An exceptional rarity, something that reminds you that cinema like this can still be achieved. Being a period piece, and with almost 5 hours of runtime (the 15-minute intermission included), it defies almost every convention of commercial cinema. And it doesn't drag one bit; every minute of the film is required, and while it absorbs you and doesn't let go, you feel grateful for it For those magical hours of hypnotic escapism.
"Mysteries of Lisbon" is en epic, mesmerizing adaptation of the homonym novel by Camilo Castelo Branco. It tells a series of interconnected stories set mostly in 19th century Lisbon, although the main plot is pretty much unique. In any case, the way each story leads to the other and how it all comes together towards the end is brilliant. The two main characters are Pedro da Silva and Padre Dinis; a priest and an orphan destined to form a close bond. But all characters are carefully fleshed out; apart from those two, Ângela de Lima (Pedro's mother) or Alberto de Magalhães, among others, stand out. It is the film's purpose to explore the enigmatic nature of most of these people, leaving them and coming back to them with deeply measured fluency, bringing forward through the set occasional details of their personality, frequently using voice-overs to convey their inner thoughts while staying faithful to the literary source material.
This last idea is also present in how much the act of observation matters in this film. In a great number of scenes, a lesser character is either listening to what is happening or watching that given scene from a distance, thus often adopting the viewer's external point of view. This objective is made clear through the miniaturist theater that Pedro receives as a present from his mother, a toy that Ruiz goes back to on several occasions to mark the transition between a scene and the next. It is a beautiful little trick and, in some way, it provides part of the film's complexity. This complexity is reinforced by a few ambiguous notes, some surrealist touches and of course the multiple layers of the plot.
Another remarkable aspect is the use of clear-cut sequence shots for the majority of scenes, each of those shots more impressive than the other. The film has therefore very few close-ups, something that would also contribute to create a certain distance with the viewer. Only in a couple of situations (usually of lesser significance) does Ruiz go back to a more orthodox way of shooting. But those delightfully crafted sequence shots give the film an extraordinary, almost intoxicating energy, especially when they are accompanied by the film's haunting score. That way, every shot is a wonder in terms of composition, but also as far as the lighting is concerned. Just a few marvelous examples would be the scene at the opera hall or when Alberto de Magalhães confronts another man while Padre Dinis is traveling in the calash. Indeed, this must be one of the most striking films I've had the chance to see on the big screen.
On the whole, this is a moving, tragic and awe-inspiring masterpiece. A feast for the senses, and an immediate entry in my top 50. *****
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