Wednesday, November 29, 2006

a few words on Odete

Odete (João Pedro Rodrigues, 2005)

After O Fantasma's bold twists on Louis Feuillade, Tsai Ming-liang, and Pink Narcissus, Rodrigues continues to convert his deep cinephilic obsessions into startling images. This time, the primer seems to be the ever-influential Vertigo, and there are also suggestions of Douglas Sirk, Almodovar's Law of Desire, and - in the steam room long take - Warhol's Blow Job. And surely, if Sergio in O Fantasma is Rodrigues' Irma Vep, then Odete is his Nosferatu. The plot this time is more complicated than that of O Fantasma so I won't describe it here, but what it does demonstrate for the spectator, moreso than O Fantasma, is the possibility of faith in the body (or rather, the image of the body) being a harbour of spectres, whether it be the dead Pedro's unexplained haunting of Odete, or the possibility that Odete is herself a ghostly extrapolation of Sergio, undergoing a typically Rodrigues-ian (can we use this adjective already?) transformation, designed to carry them towards their respective desired constellations (an image, a body, a gesture, an object) in order to complete themselves - except hers is supraphysical and emotional ("hysterical" even), while Sergio's is corporeal and sensorial. The discontinuous melodrama is necessary here - it is actually what gives the film its own distinctive tone; the frequent invocations of wind and rain and songs at crucial moments swell the screen up in the most wonderful ways.

So, while this is not as formally adventurous and beautiful a work as O Fantasma (where the beauty existed in the nocturnal textures, in dark and dirty encounters) it's still very much worth watching, and Rodrigues worth keeping an eye on, because the next one might just be it.


Blogger msic said...

Nice review, Mubarak. Yeah, it's amazing how Rodrigues rubs so many people the wrong way. A lot of hardcore cinephiles I know won't even see ODETE because they found O FANTASMA so repugnant. But this guy is really onto something, and a flat-out masterpiece can't be too far away.

Also, "Moon River" thematics notwithstanding, it's a bummer that Strand retitled it TWO DRIFTERS. Part of what Rodrigues is up to is confounding the very idea of what constitutes a "gay film," and putting his female protagonist front and center is a vital part of this.

2:28 PM  
Blogger dd said...

hey, not really a comment about ODETE (because I haven't seen any of Rodrigues's films), but I bumped into yr. blog through msic's site and realized that you're another Aucklander. And as such, you may or may not know that Hong Sangsoo's new film, WOMAN IN THE BEACH, is playing on Tuesday at 8:30 at Village Queen St. (It also played last night. I saw it. I enjoyed it. It inspired me to write a big Hong appreciation on my blog.)

There's also a couple other films playing as part of the Korean Film Fest - FAMILY TIES, THE KING AND CLOWN, DUELIST, ARANG, and TYPHOON. It's been a woefully underpublicized festival - there were three people for the screening of OBLATAN on Saturday - and only one of the three films I've seen so far (mercifully, the Hong) was presented without any technical snafus.

9:06 PM  
Blogger Mubarak Ali said...

Michael, thanks for bringing up the film's 'gayness', which is certainly more complex than that of O Fantasma. I'm not ready to comment on this aspect yet I guess, even though I do have some poorly formed theories. Maybe after I see his next film...

And 'dd' - nice to hear from another Auckland cinephile! (You may be the first such to leave a comment on this blog, actually). I will indeed be at the Woman on the Beach screening tomorrow night, unless it's suddenly sold out or something...

11:00 AM  
Blogger dd said...

Sorry for the crap introduction - I'm Doug.

Going to KING AND THE CLOWN tonight, undecided if I'll give WOMAN ON THE BEACH (not IN - for some reason I keep writing WOMAN IN THE DUNES and half-correcting myself) a second look or not. (Probably depends on how tired I am.) I'm the medium height white guy with a beard, glasses and a green Pixies shirt, say hi if you see me.

2:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there Mubarak! long time no see you (i've lost my favorites page during a virus-computer war!).
I don't like this pretentious movie, it’s too much on a fake and pretending-to-be side, than of a formalist point of revelation. It’s really nothing, instead of “O Fantasma” (of which I was one of the co-writers), where the uninteresting social story soon was overcome by João Pedro ability to imagine image non-narrative wonders. But this one! Since its start, with the girl rolling with the sound and the lettering of the initial credits.

José (aka Murnau)

11:21 AM  

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