I don’t think I’ve ever linked to Isthmus film critic Mike Wilmington’s weekly column, “Wilmington on DVD,” but there is, as they say, a first time for everything: In this week’s installment he reviews “Letters from Fontainhas: Three Films by Pedro Costa,” the Criterion four-disc box set I dedicated last week’s DC column to. Though Wilmington confesses that Costa’s work is “a bit too minimalist, too way-past-Bressonian, too monotone” for his liking, he nevertheless awards the set an A- (an old-school A-, I presume); I’ll bite my tongue with regard to the whole letter-grading system and say that Wilmington’s response is a testament to the force and feeling bound up within the Fontainhas trilogy.
Posts Tagged ‘Pedro Costa’
As you might know from having read this week’s DC column, I’m a recent convert to the Church of Pedro Costa. Today’s installment of (Visual) Quotes… is a set of images from his debut feature, 1989’s “O Sangue.” As consistently beautiful as the movie is, I can’t help but think that it’s—I hate to use this expression—a minor work compared to his second film, 1994’s “Casa de Lava” (itself the subject of a (Visual) Quotes… post back in January). Nevertheless, “O Sangue” is an extremely worthwhile watch if you’re able to get your hands on it.
This week’s DC column focuses on the newish Criterion box-set “Letters from Fontainhas: Three Films By Pedro Costa,” which I’ve addressed several times on here these past two weeks. As you might be able to infer from the article, I regard Costa as one of the great film artists—if not the greatest film artist—of the present era. (His work lends itself especially well to the making of grand pronouncements.) Granted, this isn’t exactly an original position to take; but, in my estimation, it’s a necessary one. Anyway, it’s always a pleasure to be able to write at some length about art that really excites you through its termite-seeming singularity and inexhaustible force, even if it clearly ain’t for everyone.
These stunning stills from Pedro Costa’s “Colossal Youth” (2007; it’s my personal favorite of the three films featured in Criterion’s unbelievable new Letters from Fontainhas 4-disc set) speak for themselves.
It seems unlikely that there’ll be a DVD release this year that tops Criterion’s new 4-disc set of films by Pedro Costa, Letters from Fontainhas. The images in this post are taken from “Ossos” (1997), the last movie Costa made on film; the cinematographer of “Ossos,” Emmanuel Machuel, also shot Robert Bresson’s final film, “L’argent” (1983), as well as Maurice Pialat’s “Van Gogh” (1991).
Today’s installment of (Visual) Quotes… features an army of images from a relentlessly beautiful and wounding film: Pedro Costa’s “In Vanda’s Room” (2000). It almost goes without saying that the new Criterion disc is a must.
‘ello everybody. Just got back from a 9-day road trip to Boston, MA (and countless other places between it and Madison). Only caught one movie while apart from the Badger State; you’ll know which one it was when/if you read my next DC column.
Unsurprisingly, there were a few notable developments in town while I was gone. Martin Scorsese’s “Shutter Island,” which I still haven’t seen, began a run at the Orpheum showing alongside Sebastián Silva’s “The Maid,” which I also haven’t seen; probably the most attractive coupling of films to play at the Orpheum in quite a while. That said, it’ll be tough to give Scorsese and Silva nearly 4 hours of one’s time when the highly anticipated “Letters from Fontainhas: Three Films by Pedro Costa” DVD set is sitting at Four Star Video Heaven, ripe for the rentin’—actually, when I went to scoop the entire trio last night “Ossos” and “Colossal Youth” were both M.I.A., leaving me to begin my private Costa retrospective tonight with the seemingly brutal n’ bleak chamber-binge “In Vanda’s Room.” I guess you gotta start somewhere, right?
Wasn’t March a kick? I thought so too, for the most part. Did you read the DC’s April Fools’ edition yesterday (featuring a column from yours truly, but that’s neither here nor there)? If you didn’t, I recommend tracking down a copy: it was legitimately hysterical.
Anyway, CineMadison will be going on hiatus from today until next Monday. It’s spring break and eight days of cutting loose is at the top of the agenda. In case you were wondering, I’m driving to Boston tonight with a couple of dear friends, both of whom have agreed to put up with my slight phobia of driving in return for me putting up with their slight habit of chain-smoking (no disrespect to any of you chain-smokers out there). It’s doubtful that I’ll get a chance to see any films while we’re gone, which will mark my longest dry spell in months. However, cinema will still be very much on my mind all the time. I hope it’ll be on yours as well. Let’s have some constructive dialogue when we all get back, ya hear?
If you’re going to be in or near Manhattan next week, be sure to mosey on over to the IFC Center on 6th Ave to see Catherine Breillat’s “Bluebeard,” which opens there today. I’ve always found Breillat to be a pretty hit-or-miss artist (and if any of the contemporary French filmmakers deserves the “auteur” label, it’s gotta be her); but even when she misses it’s affecting—and usually in a defiant, challengingly unpleasant way. “Bluebeard” was reviewed this week by the Times’ Manohla Dargis and the Voice’s J. Hoberman; both paint the picture of a film at once morbid and nostalgic, dark and whimsical, sensitive to the latent psychopathology hiding in the heart of all human practices—including the writing and telling of fairy tales. Unfortunately it’d be the schlep-to-end-all-schleps for me to get down to NYC to join you for a matinee.
On Tuesday (or more precisely, at midnight on Monday) the Criterion Collection’s new 4-disc Pedro Costa set, “Letters from Fontainhas,” which consists of the films “Ossos” (1997), “In Vanda’s Room” (2000) and “Colossal Youth” (2006), will be available at Four Star Video Heaven. This is probably the most anticipated home video release of the year, and for damn good reason: by all accounts, Costa is among the most important artists working today. Enjoy the spareness, the stillness, the desperation. Here’s a link to the New Yorker’s Richard Brody’s review of the entire set. Can’t wait to tear through these when I return to Madison.
Also, be sure to check out Kenneth Burns’ positive—and autobiographical—review of “Greenberg” in this week’s issue of the Isthmus.
Alright dear reader, I oughta get while the gettin’s good. I’ll see you a week from Monday. Don’t you go and cut your hair.
Come to think of it, if you’ve kept up with this blog at all over the past few weeks, you already know how I spent most of my winter vacation. But now that I’ve begun writing this post, I might as well share something or other with you, dear reader. What to say, what to say… Hmm… Oh! How about this:
Five great (what does that mean?) films I watched over the break
“I No Longer Hear the Guitar”/“Emergency Kisses”/“The Birth of Love” – I’m grouping these together because I approached them as a triptych and I ain’t sorry I did. Lately Garrel’s work has been doing it for me in a way that no other director’s has. I think these films would really resonate with anybody who is 21 but feels 51.
“Numéro deux” – You saw the images I posted yesterday, yes? If so, you can probably understand where I’m coming from.
“Two Weeks in Another Town” – It’s so ridiculous, so excessive, so convinced that it’s saying something truly profound about creative genius and the various obstacles inherent to big-budget art—profit-obsessed investors, sadistic former flames, unstable collaborators, etc.—that I can’t help but love it. One of Minnelli’s great charmers.
“Casa de Lava” – Again, I’ll let the images speak for themselves. If you can find it, you should savor every second of this stunner.
“Sansho the Bailiff” – Mizoguchi’s a master whose work I’m aiming to become much more familiar with in the semester ahead. “Sansho the Bailiff” is relentlessly affecting, ingeniously composed and brilliantly constructed. Watching this film one totally gets why the inaugural Cahiers du cinéma crew idolized him. Obviously “Ugetsu” is essential as well.