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.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

"...one long film..."

(for Robert Altman)

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