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PostPosted: Sun Aug 20, 2017 1:06 am 

Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2009 12:28 pm
Abraham's Valley seems to be an outlier in MO's oeuvre. It adheres to most of his stylistic approach (fixed camera, dry acting and such). But it has much more narrative drive than most of his work and in my view is by far his most accessible film. Who is the audience for MO? I'll gladly see any of it in 35mm, but can't imagine sitting through it on a TV. I'm thinking in particular of some of his earlier, very lengthy works. All brilliant, but can't see a video market in the USA. Beyond the marathon masterpieces, I find his shorter works to be quite minor. So that seems to leave an impossible video release situation.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 20, 2017 3:29 am 
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Joined: Thu Dec 15, 2005 5:40 pm
Location: where the simulacrum is true
J Adams wrote:
Abraham's Valley seems to be an outlier in MO's oeuvre. It adheres to most of his stylistic approach (fixed camera, dry acting and such). But it has much more narrative drive than most of his work and in my view is by far his most accessible film.

Really? I don't know. That doesn't reflect my experience at all. I'm not sure what kind of audience you're thinking of but I would highly doubt that most would find it all that accessible, especially at its full 210 minute length. It's intensive and dense in its language in a way that only a few of his other films are. I've always found it to be intellectually exhausting for the demands it makes; I suppose one could just filter those out, though I'm not sure what you'd be left with. It has a nominal narrative framework or structure I guess but it's not pronounced or clear or obvious and is actually among the subjects of inquiry for the film itself (though it doesn't go out of its way to outright and overtly elide conventional narrative beats as La Lettre does). There's far more scrutiny than drive. I would be more inclined to say that there's thematic development but extremely spare and pared down narrative development. There are many others that seem much more directly accessible: e.g. Voyage to the Beginning of the World, I'm Going Home, Belle toujours, Christopher Columbus: The Enigma, Eccentricities, Angelica (Angelica seems to me the most accessible by far as its narrative could not be more clear and easy to follow even if, as always, the themes and subtext are rich and challenging).

J Adams wrote:
Who is the audience for MO? I'll gladly see any of it in 35mm, but can't imagine sitting through it on a TV. I'm thinking in particular of some of his earlier, very lengthy works. All brilliant, but can't see a video market in the USA. Beyond the marathon masterpieces, I find his shorter works to be quite minor. So that seems to leave an impossible video release situation.

Well, I don't find his shorter works to be minor at all even if I much prefer some to others. I do agree that some of the longer work would be a tough sell though surely not impossible in this day and age of niche releases. And I have to confess that Doomed Love is among the only films of his I do not like, heretical admission though it may be, and I did see that in a theater.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 21, 2017 12:37 am 

Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2009 12:28 pm
Doomed Love is my favorite MO film, but so be it. I far prefer his longer films. The film-a-year approach he adopted in his latter years had very mixed results. I realize this is heresy, but frankly very few of them are anywhere near the pantheon of MO, let alone cinema generally. He became famous in arthouse circles for being OLD. And when he used Deneuve and other famous but uncomprehending actors, it just got worse. "Belle Toujours" and the horrendous last half of "A Talking Picture", are rather terrible. Did love that film about the girl in the window he made toward the end.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 21, 2017 4:15 am 
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Joined: Thu Dec 15, 2005 5:40 pm
Location: where the simulacrum is true
You're right that he did gain much of his notoriety and fame in large part for his age but that's not his fault. And I would agree that the 00's were not exactly peak Oliveira but they still offer up much that is exceptional. For me at least his peak period actually ends with Magic Mirror in '05 which is also, not coincidentally, his last feature with prime partner Agustina Bessa-Luís (those collaborations are my favorite of his work as they are all so very rich and he does a marvelous job of translating very difficult literary text). It's not insignificant either that after this begins his genuinely late period of far shorter features, often with barely feature length running time. I do think Talking Picture is excellent, though, yes, mostly for its first half. And though the shorter pieces could often be frustratingly slight they're also often exquisite miniatures (as is the one you refer to with the girl in the window, Eccentricities of a Blonde-haired Girl and Christopher Columbus-The Enigma as well). And his final couple of films, both real shorts of under 20 minutes, are superb, evidencing a still active and vital mind even as the staging became necessarily more minimal (while still always elegant). As to the inclusion of famous actors, I have to admit that it never bothered me as they almost always seem to be implemented well and some (say, Piccoli, maybe even Malkovich) seem to be especially compatible with Oliveira and his methods.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2017 11:28 am 

Joined: Thu Nov 15, 2007 1:02 am
This article by Rita Benis seems worth searching out:

Benis, R. (2017), ‘The censorship of Manoel de Oliveira’s screenplays during the Salazar Dictatorship in Portugal (1933−74)’, Journal of Screenwriting, 8:2, pp. 147–59

http://web.a.ebscohost.com/abstract?dir ... d124515658


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