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I'm Your Man (2021)
8/10
Very intelligent screenplay that provides classy humor for the first hour of the film
29 November 2021
One of the very intelligent sci-fi films in decades that combine the richness of "Ex-Machina" (2014) and the sci-fi play/film "Marjorie Prime" (2017). Additionally, it has a script that can make you double up with mirth for over the first hour. Wonderful screenplay; it possibly lost out the Silver Bear to a better film in Competition Section that I have yet to watch. But it did win the best actress Silver Bear award; so it did not go empty handed. However, I rate this film as superior to the Golden Bear winner, which did not appeal to me as much.
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Lamb (II) (2021)
7/10
A significant debut by director Johannsson and a notable performance by Rapace
31 October 2021
A wonderful performance by Noomi Rapace. As it is an Oscar entry from Iceland, wonder if she will get nominated. Hollywood likes bizarre tales. This one is co-produced by Bela Tarr whose own films are close in style and subject matter to this one. I have not read Sjon's written works but he seems to be creative and noteworthy. The soon-to-be released film, "The Northman," also written by Sjon with a worthy cast, I await with anticipation. "Lamb"'s direction was good but reminded me of Bela Tarr. The choice of art works in the house was amazing. Congratulations, Mr Valdimar Johannsson, on making a significant debut!
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7/10
A lovely short story intelligently adapted on film with good acting performances
30 October 2021
It is a film of the French Protestants versus the Catholics--both Christians and killing each other just as in Northern Ireland to this day. Throughout the film there is no mention of either faction by name except that the Guises were Catholics. The movie is an adaptation of a short story by Madame de La Fayette. More than a story of a beautiful lady, who cannot be in control of her life but at the mercy of her parents and later her husband, the tale is about a Protestant (Francois de Chabannes), well read and educated, who decides to stop being a soldier killing Catholics who also believed in his God. The role is played by Lambert Wilson, an actor who played roles Fred Zinnemann's "Julia" (his debut) and "Five Days One Summer," and two Matrix films and the third Matrix Resurrections (yet to be released), This Tavernier film appears to be a historical tale but in reality is a lovely work of fiction very well acted. This is not the best of Tavernier but it still lovely on a second viewing. The final shot of the Princess in close-up was remarkable. The lead actress Melanie Thierry made an impact in her debut feature film, Giuseppe Tornatore's "The Legend of 2000," one of my top 100 films.
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Captain Conan (1996)
8/10
Janus-faced work on film: A great war film and, simultaneously, a great anti-war film
22 October 2021
A great World War I film, arguably better than Kubrick's "Paths of Glory" and far superior to Mendes's "1917." More significantly, it is one of the best anti-war films as well for viewers who can dispassionately perceive it as such in the league of Malick's "The Thin Red Line." What surprises me no end is why critics rarely discuss this work with fine direction, scriptwriting and performances. To get a heroic soldier to aid a comrade who is a pacifist and not inclined to kill the enemy is described by this line in the script "Ask a dog to adapt to salad." The film applauds the heroics of the soldiers who win a war and at the same time chastises the bad deeds of the heroes. It also discusses the plight of soldiers who do not like to actively participate in the war and the decisions of top generals who are out of touch with ground reality. The following actors were a treat to watch: Samuel Le Bihan as Lt Norbet, Philippe Torreton as Captain Conan, and Catherine Rich as a well-bred lady with social connections, whose son is a soldier awarded capital punishment for being scared and for running away from battle lines. The fascinating tale is based on a novel by Roger Vercel. Tavernier was a director who could direct varied types of tales and make them well. What a talent!

One of the assistant directors to Tavernier was the Romanian director Cristian Mungiu who later won major awards at Cannes for his films: "4 Months, 3 weeks and 2 days," "Beyond the Hills" and "Graduation."
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8/10
Tavernier's love of American cinema re-surfaces in this very "French" film
19 October 2021
Tavernier making a film in Francophone west Africa with famous French actors might not suggest its American connection/roots. The film is based on an American novel "Population 1280" by Jim Thompson. Tavernier, who loved and wrote about American films, must have picked Thompson's novel after noticing that Thompson's novel "The Getaway" was the basis of Pekinpah's film and that Thompson had contributed to the scripts of two early Kubrick films "The Killing" and "Paths of Glory." To the credit of Tavernier and his co-scriptwriter, the American tale is transposed to West Africa. Hence, the important line in "Coup de Torchon" (a.k.a. Clean Slate) an African native states--"So the white folks want to be dead before they shake the hand of a black" before refusing to shake the hand of a white Frenchman.

The film is a lovely amalgamation of crime, comedy, racism, and philosophy. "Coup de torchon" brings the team of Tavernier and Philippe Noiret once again after their collaboration on so many films as well as Isabelle Huppert for a second time with the duo. The first shot of Noiret in this film reminds you of the first shot of Rod Steiger in Sergio Leone's "Duck, you sucker." Like Tavernier's "L.627" this film, too, presents a cop with a heart.
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L.627 (1992)
8/10
Gritty, realistic film on a cop with a mission and a heart--made by a director, who dedicates it to his real life son who is also a filmmaker
18 October 2021
A gritty, realistic film on a cop with mission to get drug peddlers off the streets. Stylistically, it is a mix of Pialat's lovely film "Police" and Friedkin's "The French Connection"--only more realistic than both. Two actors--Didier Bezace (the lead mustached cop Lulu) and Lara Guirao (Lulu's friend Cecile --a beautiful hooker. Informant, with HIV, and drug addict who has a platonic relationship with Lulu) are wonderful characters. Tavernier dedicates the film to his son Nils. The film also underscores the lack of facilities for hardworking cops from the government. They file reports when the carbon paper for typed out reports are in short supply and they are short of vehicles. Yet, the cops keep going. The film is co-scripted by Tavernier and is an original screenplay of the director and. Michel Alexandre.
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7/10
Tavernier's love for American cinema and music surfaces, as do the studio machinery's intolerance for a European director
13 October 2021
There are several interesting trivia on this film. First, it is a film made in USA with US actors of repute by Tavernier but the film was never released in the US theatres, Two, few realize that there is Tavernier making French films in France and then there is Tavernier, who loved American films as a film critic before he began directing films, making films in the US or films with US connections. "In the Electric Mist" belongs to the latter group of Tavernier films. Three, Tavernier is a fan of American music (e.g., "Round Midnight" with a real jazz musician playing a real one and "In the Electric Mist" presenting the famous guitarist Buddy Guy with a guitar in a fictional role in the film which also includes his music on the soundtrack). If that is not all just as "Round Midnight" had director Martin Scorsese in a small role, "In the Electric Mist" has director John Sayles acting in a small role. It is a mutual appreciation club.

"In the Electric Mist" is a very American film in many ways--the honest cop (Tommy Lee Jones) vs the corrupt police, where one's own family has to be rescued, An "honest cop" who plants evidence in the larger interest of justice. And most importantly a photograph taken in the present film time, appears as a published historical photograph in a book being read by a film's present day character. Not a major Tavernier film, but deserves more attention.
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7/10
An apt swansong for Bogarde in the company of the charming Jane Birkin
12 October 2021
Lovely swansong of actor Dirk Bogarde, playing an English businessman who is dying after a heart operation which only served to postpone the inevitable. The film is an unforgettable final weeks of close interaction between father and daughter (Jane Birkin) which never happened earlier in their life. The mother, a devout Catholic and a bridge addict and once beautiful, is not a person of high intellectual capacity. Bogarde and the charming Jane Birkin are used by Tavernier to put together a family film that could have been a Michael Powell (of Powell and Pressburger fame) product and by a coincidence Powell died the year this Tavernier film was released. Tavernier dedicated the film to Powell, whose works must have made an impact on Tavernier. Bogarde died 9 years after this film. The film belongs to a mature, beautiful and middle-aged toothy Birkin; Bogarde; and Tavernier. The original story was written by Colo Tavernier, who was Bertrand Tavernier's former wife (they divorced in 1981) but the film was co-scripted by both Bertrand and Colo. I wonder if Tavernier was influenced by another Bogarde film, "The Night Porter," in crafting the considerably different-end sequence in his film, with the rainy weather and the camera following the character(s) along the sidewalks.
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8/10
Less about the "assassin" and more about real life judges and other rich individuals who "judge" others
7 October 2021
A very cursory appraisal of the film would term it as a tale of a true murderer and rapist who killed, raped and sodomized over a dozen shepherd women in rural France before being captured and guillotined. The film is much more than that. The film is more about the respected, educated judges of France who sit in judgement of the evils of less privileged evil-doers, while they are more evil in their actions and scoff at the writings of Emile Zola, that strikes a chord with the average French citizens. One judge is called "Judas" by prisoner who has been tricked, another commits suicide as he reflects on his own past actions that mirror the actions of another. Religion plays a major but discrete role--free lunches for the poor and illiterate are free only if petitions that serve the rich are signed. A judge helps a sibling of an Asian he has condemned to death by ensuring the sibling becomes a Christian and serves him for the rest of his life. Anti-Jewish posters are pasted on outer church walls. Social comments include unwritten restrictions of a Frenchwoman being allowed to marry an Asian. A judge's mother of higher classes, providing cherries in brandy to a lower-class worker but not readily approving her to be the daughter-in-law marked by a silent disapproval when she is brought home. A judge avoids visiting his girlfriend's daughter in hospital but brings flowers for the sick person. The film is less about the "assassin" and more about real life judges and other rich individuals who "judge" the less privileged.

The film is top-notch French cinema, with notable direction and casting, a superb screenplay, good cinematography and fine performances. Tavernier and Noiret made a great team, ever since Tavernier's debut film "The Clockworker of St Paul." It is a pity that this work of Tavernier is rarely discussed and appreciated.
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8/10
"Art is always a rape"--a film that proves the respect of Jarmusch and Schroeder for Ruiz
3 October 2021
A US surrealistic film that can compete with "Northfork" (2003) and it is Raoul Ruiz directing it! For Ruiz fans the film percolates philosophy, art, unusual cinematographic camera angles, use of black and white sequences that turn into color, children (one claims to a 30 year old dwarf!), life of exiles (a New Yorker, who claims to be from L. A.) and politics (the major character Austin, played by the lovable Michael Kirby, is recognized as a Marxian writer of repute in the final sequence!), It is a fable of bloody knife injuries--the police and the ambulance are called--but they never are part of the film. The closest sequence is of a plain-clothesman (maybe he was not one) who checks a driver's license and then asks the driver to move on. Most importantly, the celebrated Ruiz directs two other famous directors as actors in small roles--Jim Jarmusch and Barbet Schroeder.
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8/10
Thanks to Ms Wood and Mr Redford that Pollack directed this skillful adaptation of Tennessee William's play
25 September 2021
I am an unabashed admirer of Tennessee Williams' written work. I am an admirer of director Sydney Pollack as well. Though Williams was not pleased with the film based on his work, the film is a wonderful example of the strengths of adapting a play for the screen. The final crane shot of Willie walking away balancing on a railroad rail wearing the ornaments gifted by the admirers of her elder sister Alva (Natalie Wood), the "main attraction" of the dying rail town, encapsulates the whole play dramatically that could never have been done on stage. The scene recalls the opening scene of Willie wearing the same clothes and holding a broken doll. Hats off to the late Ms Wood (who attempted suicide during the filming) to believing in Robert Redford's idea that the film should be directed by Pollack. What is most important for those who might have missed this in the credits--the script was written to a great extent by Francis Ford Coppola (of the Godfather films and "The Conversation")
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Drifters (2015)
8/10
Notable debut film of Swedish director Peter Gronlund with an amazing performance from the lead actress
18 September 2021
Amazing performance from the lead actress Malin Levanon. Good original script (Peter Gronlund) and music (Johan Testad). A remarkable debut film of Swedish director Peter Gronlund with creditable casting of actors including real drug peddlers. A film that deals with the importance of bonding for the mutual benefit of several character pairs at various stages of the script. Is it only short-term bonding, is the moot question the audience has to answer.
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Oklahoma! (1955)
7/10
A fine musical with Rod Steiger singing and the charming Charlotte Greenwood
13 September 2021
A fine musical, if ever there was one, especially considering it was made in 1955. The highlights of the film for me were the charming performance of Charlotte Greenwood as "Aunt Eller" and of Rod Steiger as a singing farm worker. The negative role of Steiger probably led to his casting in a parallel role in David Lean's "Doctor Zhivago." Zinnemann is to be credited for picking Steiger in two of his early films--this one and in Steiger's debut film "Teresa" (1951).
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Kaos (1984)
8/10
Creditable weaving of several Pirandello tales in a lovely screenplay of the Taviani brothers and Tonino Guerra
11 September 2021
Four tales of Nobel Prize for Literature winner Luigi Pirandello brought to screen with a male raven hatching eggs with a bell tied on its neck (forcibly) connecting the tales. A fifth segment has the author conversing with his dead mother and being driven home in a horse carriage by Saro a minor character from the segment "Moon Sickness." The intertwining of the 4 tales and the real characters of the author can be owed to the directorial and screenplay writing skills of the Taviani brothers and the acclaimed screenplay writer Tonino Guerra. The opening quote of Pirandello that he was born in "Kaos" literally, the name of the forest area with Greek origins of the word, is an important bit of information provided by the directors on why they chose the title of the film. The opening helicopter shot of the geographical area of the four tales, mirroring the flight of the raven, is another highlight.

The Taviani brothers ability to film the "day-for-night" sequences in the segment "Moon Sickness" stands out. They also have a penchant to cast their favorite actors. Omero Antonutti plays the author Pirandello, after major roles in "Padre Padrone," "Good Morning. Babylon" and "The Night of the Shooting Stars." Actress Margarita Lozano's performance in the opening segment "The Other Son" is commendable: she worked with the Tavianis in "The Night of the Shooting Stars", Bunuel's "Viridiana" and Sergio Leone's western "Fistful of Dollars." The use of the comedy duo of Franco Franchi and and Ciccio Ingrassia (the Italian equivalent of Hollywood's Abbott and Costello) in the segment "The Jar" was admirable casting.
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Julian Po (1997)
8/10
An important low-budget US film that needs more attention of serious filmgoers
5 September 2021
An unusual film from USA. My second viewing in 20 years. Wonderful tale bringing out the typical quirky world of a small town (with no bus or train service connecting with the rest of USA): religion, sex, guns, sheriffs, mayors, bored housewives, closet gays, and kids who don't seem to be studying in schools! The script is by director Alan Wade, about whom very little is known except that he directed one more feature film. The script of "Julian Po" was based on a novel called "La mort du Monsieur Golouja" by a Yugoslav writer called Branimir Scepanovic. A very well made low budget-film with good performances by all actors. Rather odd that no one seems to discuss this interesting film which needs more attention from the serious filmgoers! The end scene reminds one of the final scene of Bunuel's "Nazarin."
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7/10
Visually stunning and an unusual indirect presentation of the Nazi Holocaust
4 September 2021
Superlative camera angles for a Sixties film! Zbynek Brynych is one of the most important Czech directors after Milos Forman, Jiri Menzel and animator Jiri Trnka. The film is about the Nazi Holocaust while it is never openly stated in the film. The confiscated property of the Jews sent to concentration camps and a chimney emitting black smoke are the only close indirect indicators of the main subject. I couldn't spot the word Jews in the English subtitles. The visuals did show the Swastika in a casual manner on printed matter. The use of a young boy and the ominously empty streets are the highlights of the director's creativity. There are two different sequences of two different men on a bicycle--the differences speak volumes, even though the location is the same one. Varied reactions of the building's inhabitants, who knew each other, in the final sequence are amazingly well-captured by the director and his incredibly talented cinematographer Jan Kalis.
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Morphine (2008)
7/10
Veiled criticism from three fascinating and talented individuals result in this film
29 August 2021
To many it would be a film about morphine drug addiction of a doctor and his nurse. The film is based on the writings of the controversial Russian writer Mikhail Bulgakov and you realize it is a veiled criticism of the Leninist revolution. It is dark with persecution of Jews and landowners highlighted. The suicide in a cinema hall is possibly a Balabanov stamp; I can't be sure as I have not read Bulgakov. The film's co-scriptwriter Sergey Bodrov Jr. Came into limelight as the actor in Balabanov's Brat 1 and Brat 2 and made a single film as a director called "Sisters," which won awards at many film festivals. He is supposed to have died with his film crew in an accident while shooting his second film titled "Messenger." Thus, a fascinating trio was responsible for the film "Morphine."
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7/10
All characters, including women, are freaks (mental or physical) here
27 August 2021
A very odd and freaky film with freaky (not just physical freakiness but mental freakiness as well.. ) characters, yet unforgettable for its images. What are they? St Petersburg/Leningrad shots without a soul in sight except for the film's characters. The closing shot of Johann stepping on a sheet of ice as it carries him away to possibly drown as the ice is melting downstream. The director's interest in the evolution of cinematography from still photography (embodied in the odd character Putilov). The images of steam engines that constantly appear outside Lisa's apartment and eventually carries her away (not in a carriage but in the single engine itself). And the evil, toothy smile of Viktor Ivanovich. There is even a tram that works on roads with a steam engine (is that a historical fact or Balabanov's imagination at work?) And the entire film is shot in sepia and black. My first Balabanov film. The political commentary is well-couched in deceptive visual metaphors.
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Ruthless (1948)
7/10
Greenstreet and Bremer are the real stars of the film
25 August 2021
Good story. What stands out are the performances of Mr and Mrs Mansfield (Sidney Greenstreet and Lucille Bremer). One great visual sequence which is unforgettable--Mr Mansfield opens the twin doors to his wife's bedroom with both hands, a majestic entry of power, and returns from the bedroom opening just one door of the the same set of doors with one hand. Many viewers might have missed the metaphor. Director Edgar Ulmer may be unknown but that was a wonderfully planned sequence!
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Annette (2021)
7/10
A leaf out of Ariane Mnouchkine's films
23 August 2021
Carax thanks King Vidor and film theoretician Bela Balazs. Bravo! But what about the lady from his own country--Ariane Mnouchkine of the Theater du Soleil and her amazing films "1789" and "Moliere"? That's as sad a commentary as the protagonist of the film, "Henry McHenry." I prefer the Carax of lower budgets and the past. Ms Champetier, take a bow for your work with Carax on so many of his films with wonderful outcomes !
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Bad Blood (1986)
7/10
Weird tale, with very unforgettable use of color, cinematography, wonderful performances and choice of existing music
25 July 2021
Wonderful performances by Denis Lavant (best performance as mute prisoner in "The Night of the Kings"), Juliette Binoche (best performance is in "Certified Copy") and Julie Delpy (best performance "Three colors-White"). Carax is to be credited for casting all three and getting great performances when all of them were relatively unknown. Lavant has worked with Carax on his films (in "Boy meets girl" and in "Lovers on the Bridge", where his characters are called Alex!; and in "Holy Motors")

Lavant's character is called Chatterbox. While character avers he was a silent child and survived 15 months of his served prison term by being silent. Yet, he is the most talkative character in the film, who is very knowledgeable about art and artists, correcting a "heavy" that Jean Cocteau is not alive but dead (Carax was possibly influenced by Cocteau). The film's script has several such nuggets.

Though the film has a weird tale, the strength is first of all in the use of color--clothes, exterior walls, furniture--transforming each scene into a painting.

The second awesome sequence is Denis Lavant's athletic dance in the empty street keeping to the beat of David Bowie's song "Modern Love," which is supposed to reflect the weird theme of the film of loveless sex. Carax' choice of Prokofieff's and Britten's music is creditable.

Carax worked with cinematographer Jean-Yves Escoffier until his death in 2003. Another good decision made by Carax for whom visuals, music and actors matter.
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Humanity (1999)
8/10
A film that urges the viewer to continuously reassess what has been shown up to the final shot
21 July 2021
The film urges the viewer to reassess one's perceptions continuously as the film progresses right up to the end. The film deserved its triple Cannes honors: Grand Prize of the Jury; Best Actress and Best Actor. The amusing trivia is that the Best Actor went to a non-professional actor, who does a great job. The film belongs mainly to its director and scriptwriter Bruno Dumont and partly to the cinematographer Ms Yves Cape (who went on to cinematograph "Holy Motors"). The high points of the film are two sequences: the levitation in the flower patch and final 3 minutes of the film preceding the end credits, both without music. It is not surprising the film beat strong contenders at the Cannes competition that year, which included Jarmusch's "Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai"; David Lynch's "The Straight Story"; John Sayles' "Limbo"; and Sokurov's "Moloch". How much of the film's tale is factual is unclear but the lead character's grandfather is indeed a famous painter and the film's lead character is shown viewing his grandfather's paintings in the presence of the museum's curator, who is planning to exhibit them.
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Phoenix (II) (2014)
7/10
Lovely decision by Petzold/Farocki to get Ms Hoss to sing Ogden Nash's "Speak Low" at the end
13 July 2021
This film of Christian Petzold will make an indelible impression on the minds of viewers who miss out on the fact that the tale is based on a book by a French writer named Hubert Monteilhet who wrote the novel "Le Retour des Cendres. " Petzold and co-scriptwriter Haroun Farocki, who usually develop original scripts, adapts this tale with some fascinating additions. The final film is closer to the novel than the Hollywood film "The Return from Ashes" (also based on the same novel) directed by J Lee Thompson with Ingrid Thulin, where a second woman is introduced into the plot, which thankfully is not in Petzold's film. Petzold and Farocki are wonderful scriptwriters dealing with themes of outsiders trying to fit into Germany--here it is a lovely tale of a Jewess opting to live in Germany rather than in Israel/Palestine. Apart from a wonderful performance by Nina Hoss, I think the crowning glory was to select the song "Speak Low," written by Ogden Nash and Kurt Weill and sung by Ms Hoss at the end. This is one of Petzold 's films where cinematographer Hans Fromm, who has worked on all the Petzold films truly makes an impact. A trivia: the lead pair of actors are the same as in Petzold's "Barbara" and how different they appear in both!
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7/10
The magic of Manoel de Oliveira that requires suspension of disbelief from the viewer
7 July 2021
I am in awe of the director aged over 100 years making such good films. There is indeed something magical about his films--and this one is no different. Windows across a street. People do not call out to the other but only watch each other discretely. There are elegant rooms with candle-lit chandeliers. Possibly the chandeliers are lit with dozens of bulbs that look like candles (or are they real candles)?. There are no sounds of vehicles or electrical switches in camera vision. Yet the décor of the modest cloth shop is 21st century. Euro is the currency and there is a mention of a Portuguese airline, and there is a LED computer screen. The film begins and ends on a modern train compartment. For de Oliveira, time can be switched within the film.

Books, libraries, history, music played indoors to a select audience indicate a sophistication with the matching indoor décor. The conversations are graceful while the story does include mentions of loss of many handkerchiefs from the shop and the stealing of a diamond ring. When the stolen item is paid for, the resulting conversation is most elegant and spoken without raised voices. Add to this, the few Oliveira films I have seen use music only when required. Most contemporary directors cannot conceive such films. That's the magic of the de Oliveira at 100 plus years. The film will be recalled for its style and less for its tale that expects the viewer to suspend belief in logic.

The casting of the main characters is a delight. Ricardo Trepa as Macario, the beautiful Catarina Wallenstein as Luisa, and Leanor Silveira as the middle aged woman on the train. The film reminds you of the décor of Raul Ruiz' "The Mysteries of Lisbon" but that film was not set in the time when Euro was a currency of Portugal.
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8/10
A superb example of Ruiz' brilliance and the mockumentary form
4 July 2021
A challenge for the viewer to enjoy the possible boundaries of cinema. An example of filmmaking where Ruiz stakes his claim to be in the same league as Tarkovsky, the later Kieslowski, and Welles. Ruiz creates a detective film on paintings by creating tableaux with live actors and two narrators, one seen and another unseen dueling with arguments on the paintings. The viewer is forced to read up more literature to appreciate the film sufficiently--e.g., Pierre Klossowski's writings and paintings, the death of St Sebastian, the history of rise and fall of the Knights Templar. If the viewer takes that trouble, there is a good case for Ruiz to be considered the most well read intellectual among filmmakers. The film is one of the best examples of a great mockumentary alongside my favorite and possibly banned Iranian film "Bitter Dreams" (2004).
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