Daily Archives: December 11, 2008

Manoel
The facts would not appear to be in dispute. Which is why th opening of this fait diver seems so strange.:

“Portugal’s Manoel de Oliveira turns 100 on Friday, the world’s oldest filmmaker will be doing what he loves most: shooting a movie — in this case his 46th feature-length film.
“To stop my work means to die,” said Oliveira, who was born December 11 but marks his birth in line with his official registration on earth the day after.”

Oh, OK. Anything you say. You Da Man!

“His latest film, Singularidades de uma Rapariga Loura — roughly The Uniqueness of a Young Blond-Haired Girl — is adapted from a tale by Jose Maria Eca de Queiroz, considered Portugal’s greatest realist writer.
It recounts the story of Macario, a young man — played by Oliveira’s grandson Ricardo Trepa — who confides his passionate love for a blond-haired girl to a stranger on a train.
It’s “on the idea that one can confess to a stranger things one would not tell a friend or a spouse,” he said.
Far from fast-paced, Oliveira’s films have often baffled the general public but left movie buffs raving — and he has walked off with repeated prizes at major festivals like Cannes and Venice.
In May he was awarded the coveted Palme d’Or at Cannes for his entire body of work, which spans silent films to talkies and survived the country’s long-time, right-wing dictatorship.”

Here’s a video of the Cannes event.
As for pacing, I found The Dark Knight (aka. The Oscar Goes to the Dead Junkie in the Runny Make-Up) slower than Gertrud on downs.

“With his trademark felt hat and piercing gaze, the centenarian is shooting his latest film in Lisbon’s elegant Chiado district.
“He knows exactly what he wants but like most directors he has lots of ideas that come to him in a flash and he improvises a lot during the shooting,” said Catarina Wallenstein, who plays the leading female role.
And he is a man in a hurry. He wants to wrap up the movie quickly — not because of age but so it can compete in the Berlin International Film Festival in February.
“I only rest when I shoot,” said Oliveira who has made 20 of his stable of feature-length films since turning 80.”

A lesson to all young cinematic whippersnappers.

Except you of course Clint.

“Born in the northern city of Porto in 1908, Oliveira fell in love with movies as a child when his industrialist father took him to see Charlie Chaplin and Max Linder films.
He began his career at the age of 20, playing in the silent film Miraculous Fatma. In 1931, he shot his first silent documentary about the life of workers on the Douro River that runs through his home town, and two years later acted in Portugal’s first talking movie, Song of Lisbon.
After making several documentaries, he returned to fiction in 1942 with Aniki-Bobo tracing the life of children in a hardscrabble Porto neighbourhood.”

When the cinematic world finally caught up with De Oliveira in the mid 1980’s, Aniki-Bobo , a failure in its time, became a new launching pad for his critical regard.

“I did everything by myself: production, direction,” said Oliveira of the early years. “I was behind the camera. I was involved in the sound and picture. The actors — I found them on site. I carried all that was needed in a delivery van: projectors, cables, two 24-volt batteries for lighting.”
Despite working with industry greats like Catherine Deneuve, Marcello Mastroianni and John Malkovich, Oliveira still worries about finding backers.
“Who knows, I may have to return to those (early) conditions if I can’t find financing,” he joked.

Paulo Branco has ben his chief producer in recent years. But the sometimes prickly De Oliveira has left him for others for certain projects. Liekwiose he clashed with Catherine Deneuve ( a goddess he often uses as a ultility player) and she declined to star in his Belle de Jour sequel Belle Toujours.

He has known time away from the camera — during the dictatorship of Antonio Salazar who kept tight control over the country’s cultural output. Oliveira bowed out to manage the family vineyard and a textile factory inherited from his father, but returned to film in 1963 with his second feature-length movie, ‘Rite of Spring’, evoking the passion of Christ.
He is known as demanding, a reputation underscored by his monumental, seven-hour 1985 work, The Satin Slipper, based on a work by French poet Paul Claudel.

When he made that celluloid monument (unaccountably picked up for a release that never came by the pirates of Cannon) De Oliveira dryly remarked that “the cinema is an invention designed to preserve the great works of theater.” His taste for the theatrical quite clearly in the bizarre Mon Cas which mixes a Pirabnelloesque play by Luis Rego with a piece by Samuel Beckett and a fragment from The Book of Job. And then there’s the sublime I’m Going Home .However he alos loves the late 19th-Century novel as seen in his adaptations Doomed Love , Francisca , and The Valley of Abraham

Convinced that “the world is walking toward an abyss,” he uses dialogue, music, a languid pace and long, painterly frames to focus viewers’ attention on the “essentials” – the meaning of life and death, the human condition, generosity, humanity.
“Artistic films are not made to earn money or satisfy the public,” he insists.
But he concedes: “It’s great to win prizes, it’s fun. And it means money to make movies.”
Now, he says, “the biggest present I can be given is to be allowed to finish the rest of my movies.
“And there are lots more left.”

I, for one, sincerely hope so.

Meanwhile, Here’s a trailer for La Lettre his 1999 modern dress adaptation of La Princess de Cleves starring the luminous Chiara Mastroianni.