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Entries in Portugal (7)

Saturday
Oct192019

Review: "The Domain," Portugal's Oscar Submission

by Cláudio Alves

The Domain opens with the sort of scene that works as a mission statement. Its first image seems like something out of a western, a vast landscape, the horizon slashed by the silhouette of a great big tree. From one of its branches, a body hangs by a noose. It’s the eldest son of the rich owner of all the land we can see. The father, far from being heartbroken, watches on dispassionately, a glint of disappointment in his eye.

In an act of cruelty, the patriarch forces his youngest son to confront the corpse of his brother, his weak brother. Frightened, young João runs away from the morbid tableaux, taking refuge in the mossy ruins that stand in the middle of a nearby river. Death, parental cruelty, coldness confused with strength and an escape from the horror of reality to the warm embrace of a long-forgotten past - such are the main themes of this epic, shot like a western and paced like a funeral...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Sep062019

Portugal's Oscar Finalists

by new contributor Claudio Alvez

a biopic on the queer 1980s singer António Variações could be Portugal's Oscar submission

In the history of the Best International Film Oscar (formerly known as Best Foreign Language Film) no country has as many failed submissions as Portugal. It’s been submitting films every year since 1980 and yet, not one of them has managed to secure a nomination. As a Portuguese cinephile and Oscar buff this has always saddened me and I doubt this Awards season will change anything. 

At the moment, there are four finalists for the Oscar submission. A special jury has selected Rage, Parque Mayer, Variações: Guardian Angel and The Domain. Following this, the Portuguese Academy of Cinema (Academia Portuguesa de Cinema) will vote on the eventual Oscar submission. The results should be known this month, perhaps around the time The Domain arrives at Portuguese cinemas. Right now, it’s the only one that hasn’t opened yet, having just been shown at the Venice Film Festival where it’s competing for the Golden Lion. It’s also the only finalist I haven’t watched, though I can give an overview of the four films...

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Friday
May312019

Interview: 'Diamantino' directors on queer influences, genre twists, and Pekingese puppies

by Murtada Elfadl

The balancing of many different tones differentiates Diamantino, which just opened in theaters after a hit run at Cannes last year. It's a satire, an allegory, a rom-com and a fantasy -- all of those things in one yet it all jells. Co-directors Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt kept all these different balls in the air. The story is absolutely bonkers. Let’s see if we can get it straight with the help of the official synopsis: 

Portuguese soccer hunk Diamantino (Carloto Cotta, Tabu) blows it in the World Cup finals, he goes from superstar to laughing stock overnight. His sheltered worldview is further shattered after learning about the European refugee crisis and he resolves to make amends by adopting an African refugee – only to find that his new “son” is actually an undercover lesbian tax auditor investigating him on the suspicion of corruption. From there, Diamantino gets swept up in a gonzo comic odyssey involving cigarette-smoking evil twins, Secret Service skullduggery, mad science genetic modification, and a right-wing anti-EU conspiracy.

This doesn’t even include the fluffy giant Pekingese puppies that make the best co-stars. Critics, including this writer, have been in love since the film premiered at Cannes last year winning the Critics' Week Grand Prize. We recently had the chance to speak to the co-directors in New York. The interview has been edited and condensed for clarity...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Mar172017

Have you heard of the Platino Awards?

Though The Film Experience likes to track key foreign awards (examples include the Césars, Goyas, and the Golden Horse, in addition to the massive Oscars circus, those groups proliferate just like American precursors do. I've lost track of how many awards that Asian cinema, for example, has. But how about South America? The Platino awards are relatively new. They're now in their fourth year honoring films from the Ibero-America region, which is to say primarily Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries, i.e. former territories of Spain and Portugal, plus those countries for good measure.

Here's why we should start paying attention to them: in their short existence they've given Best Film to a truly outstanding picture every single time:  Chile's Gloria (2014) an amazing study of a divorcee rebuilding her romantic life with an Oscar worthy performance by Paulina García (we nominated her here); Argentina's rowdy, funny, Oscar nominated and deeply pleasurable anthology Wild Tales (2015); and Colombia's mystical wonder Embrace of the Serpent (2015) which you already know we're wild about.

Penelope Cruz is one of 37 women vying for a Best Actress nomination (for her new film Queen of Spain)

We don't have the nominee list yet as the ceremony isn't until July. Like the Oscars, they only allow a certain number of contenders from each country (2 or 3 in their case as opposed to Oscar's 1 film per country rule) but their long list includes a lot of Oscar submissions from the past season. Some highlights include Chile's playful fictionalized biopic Neruda, Brazil's critical sensation Aquarius, Almodovar's Julieta, the fantasy A Monster Calls, Paraguay’s father daughter road trip movie called Guaraní, and at least three LGBT titles: Chile's Rara which is an LGBT family drama, the Venezuelan Oscar submission From Afar, and the Cuban political drama Santa & Andres. You can see the complete longlist for Best Film here which will be narrowed down to 5 nominees soon. There are 37 women vying for the Best Actress nomination but we'd be shocked if both Emma Suarez from Julieta and Sonia Braga from Aquarius didn't make it.

 

Sunday
Oct022016

NYFF: Mysteries of "The Ornithologist"

Nathaniel R reporting from the New York Film Festival 

Would it help if I could speak Portuguese? Perhaps an intimate knowledge of Portugal's history and politics or a Catholic education would do the trick? What is it exactly about films from Portugal that make them so impenetrable? The latest confusion-maker from the Iberian peninsula, on the heels of last year's confounding but intermittently wondrous Arabian Nights, is The Ornithologist by Joao Pedro Rodrigues.

The film begins, literally enough, with a long sequence in which our protagonist Fernando (Paul Hamy, a fine Tom Hardy-like specimen) watches birds for hours in an idyllic lake. He also takes a swim, has cel phone trouble when he tries to take a call, and kayaks further into nature to see rarer birds. The opening act, part nature documentary, part contemplative reverie is superb. Both the cinematography and its subjects are beautiful and irresistibly unknowable. One intuitively right and sustained visual motif is frequent shots from the birds point of view where Fernando looks just as alien to them.

This peaceful wonder gives way soon enough to abrupt danger. From that point forward the film becomes stranger and stranger with each new, well, stranger that Fernando meets in his travels: Chinese tourists, Amazonian hunters, mute shepherds, and more. While clearly allegorical in the telling, the meanings escaped me. 

LGBT cinephiles might know the director Joao Pedro Rodrigues from his disturbing and sexually charged debut O Fantasma (2000) or the trans drama To Die Like a Man which was Portugal's Oscar submission in 2010.  The Ornithologist is similarly suffused with queer eroticism -- Fernando is tied up like Saint Sebastian in his tighty whities in one memorable sequence, and has sex with a shepherd named Jesus in another. The Ornithologist is thankfully not quite as nihilistic as the director's earlier work and even ends on an incongruously giddy (tongue-in-cheek?) note, but it remains a head scratcher despite that inarguably hypnotic pull. 

Previous Reviews from NYFF:
Graduation (from the director of 4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days)
The Unknown Girl (from Belgium's Dardenne brothers)
Staying Vertical (from the director of Stranger by the Lake)
Paterson (Directed by Jim Jarmusch starring Adam Driver)
Abacus (Documentary from Steve James of Hoop Dreams fame)
I, Daniel Blake (this year's Palme D'or Champ)
Hermia & Helena (Directed by Matías Piñeiro)

Thursday
Sep242015

TIFF Review Index

Let this serve as the official TIFF Review reference guide since the festival closed up shop Sunday night after the Free screening of the People's Choice winner Room. We hope you enjoyed reading along with our reviews. Amir and I saw about 50 movies between us but we'll have to wrap up now as NYFF screenings have already started and Oscar charts MUST be updated and so on.

Fall Film Season is finally upon us!

3 of my favorites of the 29 I saw...

37 Films Reviewed
45 Years British marital drama (Nathaniel)
3000 Nights Palestinian prison drama (Amir)
Anomalisa Existential stop-motion dramedy (Nathaniel)
Arabian Nights: Vol 2 Portugueuse art film with politicial satire vignettes (Nathaniel)
As I Open My Eyes Tunisian music drama (Nathaniel)
Baba Joon Israel's immigrant family drama & Oscar submission (Amir)
Bang Gang French teen sex drama (Nathaniel)
The Clan Argentine true crime drama (Nathaniel)
Closet Monster Canadian LGBT drama (Nathaniel)
Dégradé Palestinian hair salon set female drama (Amir)
Demolition Canadian grief dramedy (Nathaniel)
Desde Allá Venezuelan LGBT Drama & Venice winner (Amir)
Dheepan French Immigrant drama, Palme d'or winner (Amir)
The Dressmaker Australian revenge dramedy (Glenn)
Embrace of the Serpent Black & White Colombian Amazon journey (Nathaniel)
Eva Doesn't Sleep experimental Argentine corpse drama (Nathaniel)
The Family Fang US Dramedy about a performance art family (Nathaniel)
Girls Lost Swedish LGBT Teen Drama (Nathaniel)
Granny's Dancing on the Table Swedish animated/live-action hybrid (Nathaniel)
The Here After Swedish School Drama (Nathaniel)  
Homesick Norwegian incest drama (Nathaniel)
I Saw The Light US musical biopic (Nathaniel)
Invisible Filipino immigrant drama (Nathaniel)
Love French 3D sex drama (Nathaniel)
Much Loved Moroccan docudrama on sex workers in Marrakech (Amir)
Mustang Turkish coming of age drama (Amir)
Phantom Boy French animated adventure (Nathaniel)
Room US family/crime drama, and People's Choice Winner (Nathaniel)
Spotlight, US journalist drama (Nathaniel)
Stonewall US gay history drama (Nathaniel)
Taxi Jafar Panahi's comedy & Berlinale Winner (Amir)
Truth US TV news political drama (Nathaniel) 
Victoria German continuous shot crime drama (Nathaniel)
The Wave Norwegian disaster epic (Nathaniel)
The Witch this year's Sundance horror sensation (Nathaniel)
Youth Showbiz drama (Nathaniel) 

upside down, VICTORIA turned me, inside out. and round and round

Other TIFF Articles
Best Actress Contenders (Nathaniel)
Red Carpet Opening Weekend (Jose)
Red Carpet Post-Venice (Jose)
Victoria's Single Take / Birdman Comparison (Sebastian)
People's Choice and Other Awards (Nathaniel)
Women He's Undressed - The Interview (Jose) 
IndieWire Critics Poll (Nathaniel) 

TIFF Juries of One
I polled the podcasters who stayed the whole fest. Here's what they said...

  Nathaniel R Joe Reid Nick Davis
Film Room Son of Saul Arabian Nights
Director Cirro Guerra, Embrace of Serpent Ridley Scott,
The Martian
Laszlo Nemes,
Son of Saul
Actress Charlotte Rampling,
45 Years
Cate Blanchett,
Truth
Kalieaswari Srinivasan, Dheepan
Actor Jacob Tremblay,
Room
Abraham Attah, Beasts of No Nation Frederick Lau,
Victoria
Supp. Actress Kate Dickie,
The Witch
Julianne Moore, Maggie's Plan Ghalia Benali, As I Open My Eyes
Supp. Actor Stanley Tucci,
Spotlight
Scoot McNairy, Our Brand is Crisis Abdella Didane,
Much Loved
Craft Contribution Sound,
Victoria
Cinematography,
Son of Saul
Cinematography,
The Assassin
  Cinematography, Embrace of Serpent Art Direction,
Room
Sound,
Son of Saul
  Score,
Spotlight
Costumes,
 The Danish Girl
Camera Operator, Victoria