Dead of Night) offsets most of the failures and so-so examples. The most recent entry into the genre that I recall is the tri-part Tokyo from 2009. Now, with Centro Historico, the omnibus is back and chugging along in fine form.
The fact that you could hardly think of four famous art-film directors with less in common stylistically and otherwise probably helps matters, as well. According to the film's press materials, these four -- Aki Kaurismäki, (above) Pedro Costa, Víctor Erice, and Manoel de Oliveira (below) -- were asked to take their inspiration from the Portuguese city of Guimarães, the European Cultural Capital for 2012, and in particular to reflect on “the stories the city has to tell.”
Ilkka Koivula) who runs -- and not terribly well -- a local tavern. The filmmaker and his actor show us, in but 14 minutes, the man's work-a-day life and a bit of his desires and dreams.
Ricardo Trêpa) describes, various places of note, ending up at the statue of that titular conquistador (above), who is supposedly himself conquered by these tourists and their cameras. To call this episode slight is to put it mildly indeed, but the visual are lovely, and the piece offers de Oliveira's usual frayed charm.
Ventura (above), the man we've come to know from Costa's later work, who begins the film running away from someone or thing and being called out by voices and people. Here is the usual gorgeous, chiaroscuro lighting and camera work we expect from the filmmaker, along with the fabulous faces, and a kind of loose poetry. The lion's share of the film is devoted to Ventura and a solider/corpse stuck together in an elevator that seems to be going nowhere. A political/economic/social agenda is clearly here and just as clearly refuses to be stated. As usual with Costa's work, I had to smack my face occasionally to keep from falling asleep, despite the immense visual, cinematic beauty on display.
The Cinema Guild and running 90 minutes, opens tomorrow, July 19 at Anthology Film Archives for a one-week run, presented in 35mm, in English and Portuguese with English subtitles. Click here for information on tickets and here for directions to AFA.