Saturday, June 02, 2007

Espelho Mágico

One can like or dislike Oliveira; one may rail against any number of ideological or philosophical problems in his work. But the oldest living master of our seventh art is one of the indisputables, that is, one cannot doubt that he (like Godard) is working on an extremely high and rarified plane of accomplishment. Less than ten people attended the screening I was at, which was unfortunate. But after viewing the film it's hard to imagine there being large audiences for something like Espelho Mágico. It reminded me of Marco Bellocchio, whose films (i.e., the mere two that I've seen) I don't much like; but in both cases there's a very subtle way of obliquing carving out an abstract "subject" or "theme." Oliveira, like Bellochio, is very good at using the actions, images, temporality of cinema to suggest something very difficult to verbalize (or at least that I feel very difficult to verbalize). It's not about a feeling, but about an object of inquiry--like, say, intersections of doctrine and faith (with a very sly social analysis webbed over the whole thing), which comprise the objects of both Espelho Mágico and L'Ora di religione ('02). There's one more recent Oliveira playing in town, so more on him soon.

3 comments:

Daniel said...

I'm glad someone else saw this very interesting and particularly exquisite film. I unfortunately do not know much about Catholicism but the movie did not strike me as engaging "doctrine" except in the sense of--how should one put it--the outsider "readings" of Mary and Jesus' characters by some of the film's theologians.

Zach Campbell said...

I don't mean "doctrine" very strictly--but yes, a matter of interpreting (and teaching) the nature of the human/historical Mary and Christ. If it were simply a "reading" to Leonor Silveira, it wouldn't be important--what matters is its truth or at least probability as sanctioned by a scholarly and/or ecclesiastical authority (or a "vision")!

Zach Campbell said...

BTW, I was going to see the other Oliveira tonight but opted to meet a friend for Paprika instead. I really hope I don't let this other one slip through my fingers, though.