|Index||6 reviews in total|
While I was enthralled with Arabian Nights' Volume 1, unfortunately the
spark is lost for Volume 2, which is Portugal's submission for the
Oscar in Best Foreign Language Film, but despite the trilogy's acclaim,
it feels like a long shot if they're truly vying with this one. Anyone
watching it as a standalone feature will struggle to go with its flow,
and anyone who didn't like Volume 1 will be hard pressed to have their
minds change. Its biggest problem is that the first two vignettes are
tedious, void of the potency of Volume 1. One we follow an old man
off-the-grid evading police, and another is a surreal courtroom
sequence where we vaguely learn the hypocrisies of the system how
everyone is guilty of some kind of criminal act. Considering the
concept of the film is that we have a string of stories that are
supposed to hook you in so much that you want to hear how they end,
these two do not live up to those expectations.
Inspiration seemed to be drained at the halfway mark. It's redeemed enough by the final tale, though it's still one of the weaker vignettes across the three films. It justifies the quiet restraint of Volume 2, which is perhaps why Portugal felt it would be more digestible to the Academy, though this one is still a little too loose. At the very least, it connects it back to the hardships of the everyday people as a lovely stray dog is passed around a tower block until each owner can no longer afford to look after it. Gomes employs more flourish that he had on full throttle for the first volume, with a Wes Anderson-esque tour of the block and its residents, finally bringing this volume back to life. Perhaps Gomes had a realisation about the repetition of the structure of Volumes 1 and 2, despite those early surprises, as Volume 3 takes things in a different direction.
See the other volumes for the rest of my review for Arabian Nights.
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Don't follow the critic above. My opinion it's about the complete film, and I believe that the movie is simply marvelous, wonderful, a total gem, is sad and moving, but also humorous, free and poetic. It's absolutely original, is cinema in is true meaning. Miguel Gomes is one the greatest directors alive. I hope that he will receive the recognition that he deserves has a great filmmaker. The two previous films: Our beloved month of August and Tabu, were already great, but The Arabian Nights is even better. It's one of the few films that I saw in the last years that I call a masterpiece, and probably has in part I, one of the most beautiful title sequences of the history of the cinema.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Desolate One continues the series of stories told by Scheherazade
about how the Portuguese society was affected by the austerity measures
implemented in Portugal.
This volume is a more grounded one, with less fictional elements than the first. Despite this, the quality is nevertheless huge and does not need as much fictional elements as the first, since the stories contained in it are even closer to their real counterparts than the ones in first, and yet as amazingly incredulous.
The Judge and The Courts story felt a bit dragged on, although it serves to establish a connection between the lives of several people.
The story of Simão "Without Bowels" was actually a near documentary on the events it portrays, the stories of Dixie The Dog and the building tenants are all extremely close to reality (the possible exception is the Police Drone in the Simão story, although the real life case had an absurd amount of police force for the manhunt).
This volume also features wider shots and the soundtrack is more striking than The Restless One.
Another great part of the movie is the performance of Chico Chapas as Simão "Without Bowels" as it really brought the character to life.
A binge-watching of Portuguese auteur-in-the-making Miguel Gomes'
Herculean ARABIAN NIGHTS trilogy, his fourth feature, the
much-anticipated follow-up after TABU (2012), his critically acclaimed
present/past diptych stunner.
Consciously informing audience beforehand with its caption - "The film is not an adaptation of the book ARABIAN NIGHTS despite drawing on its structure", the three volumes of ARABIAN NIGHTS constitute an expansive ethnic dissection of Portugal's burning mire, all the stories told by Scheherazade (Alfaiate) stem from events confined within a single calendar year from August 2013 to July 2014 in Portugal, when its people are stricken with economic austerity and become impoverished, implement by the government which Gomez denounces devoid of social justice.
The first story of Volume Two, the Desolate One, is the Chronicle of the Escape of Simão "Without Bowels", sets against an expansive rural canvas, the said Simão (Chapas), is a reticent old man wanted for murder, nimbly dodging drones and patrol policemen, or savouring the exclusive service of three young naked girls, the story retains a recondite vein of local mythology and improbably detached from the present time frame.
The Tears of the Judge, shocks with its opening shot of a man's penis with blood stains, evidently is the most progressive chapter to condemn the vicious circle of the social injustice, a litany of characters, including a genie (Alfaiate), a paper-made cow, a deaf woman (Martins), twelve Chinese mistress and a human-shaped lie detector (Mozos), accuse each other of wrongdoings during an open-air summary court presided by a female judge (Cruz), from law-enforce department, pensionary welfare to social service system, and its visa policy to attract rich people from non-EU countries, it has its sparks for its outlandish tableaux vivants and Cruz's engaging performance, but unfortunately it falls into a heavy-handed rampage in the end, which gets lost in its own mire of disillusion.
A third tale, the Owners of Dixie, achieves a high point both as a bitter social commentary and a touching humanistic elegy, eyes through the shifting ownership of a dog named Dixie, inside a tower block, where variegated residents dwell (a mesh-work well composed to give audience a glimpse of their lives), barely a happy soul due to the harsh economic environment, Dixie's company brings at least some precious delight and solace to his masters, and finally a master stroke materialises when Dixie meets his past phantom, caps the tale with a transcendent vibe.
Volume 2 augurs well for the final volume of the sage, the Enchanted One, seemingly out of a mandatory impulse, Gomez starts with the story of Scheherazade, who has become jaded in her role as a raconteur, she wanders around the island, bemoans that there are so many thing she has never seen, in spite of being the Queen of the kingdom, after brief encounters with sundry characters, including a breeding stud, the Apollonian Paddleman (Cotta, in his dazzling blond allure), an ingenious upside-down shot reveals the other side of her world, the latter-day Portugal, then Scheherazade reunites with her father, the Grand Vizier (Silva) on a Ferris Wheel.
Seen from a bigger picture, this ambitious passion project undeniably demands some formidable perseverance and energy to carry it off, whether its mammoth scale, its comprehensive execution or the lofty vocation to pinpoint a troubled society, each alone could be too overwhelming to debase its holistic value. But individually speaking, it is a portfolio composed of patchy works and buttressed by a miscellany of eclectic music selections. Volume 2 is absolutely the high water mark in comparison, which bears witness to Gomez's humanistic tendre in spirit and facility for conjuring up masterclass artistry in action, that's something worth expecting, hopefully in a more condense structure.
Saw this at the Filmfest 2015 Ghent (Belgium) as part of the section
Global Cinema. There were 3 volumes a 2 hours screened after another
with nearly an hour in between to stretch our legs. I admit upfront
that I only saw the 2nd and 3rd volume. I missed nr 1 as it overlapped
with another movie that I eagerly wanted to see. Maybe I missed
important clues revealed in the 1st volume, as I found the two volumes
that I actually saw disappointing, and then I express myself mildly. Of
course, I was prejudiced by the very many positive reviews, and am
fully prepared to think it's all my fault. Nevertheless, I urgently
feel the need to raise a counter voice, as I had serious trouble to
find another review supporting my negative opinion. I located one (and
only one) submitted as a user review on IMDb by FrostyChud, dated 5th
of August 2015, titled "One of the worst films I've ever seen." very
The only part that I found edible was in Volume 2, the middle part "The tears of the judge". It started all right while revealing a chain of guilt and misdeed involving nearly all present in court, though it became a bit silly after a cow entered the proceedings, and the group of five masked crooks did not make it any better. The intentions of the other two stories in Volume 2 escaped me.
The whole 3-volume project was announced as commentary on Portuguese economical politics, but I failed to connect the dots. Same a fortiori applies to Volume 3. I did not see Volume 1, and I don't regret missing it in any way. Still wondering about the many positive reviews. Technically there is nothing wrong with this tour-de-force that lasts over 6 hours in total: camera, lighting, casting and acting seem all right, and it looks like all participants did the best they could with the material at hand.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There is probably no point writing this review. The film left theaters
here in Paris yesterday and will probably never be screened anywhere
However, this film is so bad that I have to write something. I can feel it in my body like a bad meal that I've eaten and need to throw up.
I should have walked out of the theater when I realized that it was a political movie. Before the story starts, the director tells us that the stories were inspired by the austerity measures implemented in Portugal in 2014. Political films are never good. Political "art" films are universally terrible.
The first chapter in the movie is the best. We follow an old criminal around. The camera work itself generates a sense of mystery. Not much...but just enough to keep the spectator from walking out. We don't need dialogue. A story looks like it is beginning to take shape, but it never does.
The film begins to go off the rails with the next section. The director treats us to a heavy-handed, juvenile illustration of the impossibility of assigning blame in a corrupt society. I found myself averting my eyes from the screen the way you avert your eyes from someone who is humiliating themselves in order not to embarrass them further. I breathed a sigh of relief when it was over.
The last section, however, is the worst. It is so depressing. It is depressing because it is boring. There is no life here. The director is trying to show us the nefarious effects of austerity on the Portuguese people...he succeeds only in making us feel joyless.
I don't want to dedicate any more time to this terrible film. Above all it is boring, dreadfully boring. People were walking out at a rate of one person every twenty minutes. There were only about twelve people to begin with. Indeed, I walked out fifteen minutes before the end of the film...my way of giving the bird to this awful movie.
DON'T WATCH IT!
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