Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
Original title: Centro Historico
Portugal, 2012. Globalstone RV Films, Nautilus Films, Sociedade Óptica Técnica. Screenplay by Pedro Costa, Manoel de Oliveira, Victor Erice, Aki Kaurismaki. Cinematography by Pedro Costa, Timo Salminen, Leonardo Simoes, Valentin Alvarez. Produced by Rodrigo Areias, Aki Kaurismaki, Silverio Canto Moniz. Music by Pedro Santos. Production Design by Ricardo Preto. Film Editing by Aki Kaurismaki, Valerie Loiseleux.
Four short films are combined into a strange omnibus focused on the city of Guimarães, Portugal. Aki Kaurismaki contributes a (what else) melancholy tale of a restaurateur who serves only soup and is disappointed in love. Pedro Costa makes a dramatic, disturbing short about a Cape Verdean man trapped in purgatory (in the form of an elevator) with a revolutionary colonial soldier. Victor Erice’s short is a documentary about the workers in the city’s factory and what it contributed to the local culture. Manoel de Oliveira closes the program with a delightful, gorgeous film about the city’s statutes, told from their point of view as they gaze down at the many tourists who gaze up at them. Costa’s film is particularly difficult to take despite being so poignant, his fascinating imagery (the soldier looks like he is dipped in metal thanks to exquisite makeup work on the actor) and thought-provoking premise no match for the fact that it is often boring, while most of the films are hard to penetrate. The overall experience is not satisfying, but the collection will be worthwhile to fans of the directors who are happy to see them keep pace with their own style.