Edgar PÍra  



In some ways, a Portuguese variation of Guy Maddin. Like Maddin, his films are enamored with various retro-techniques and with reproducing the look-and-feel of cinema of the past, and he also has Maddin's penchant for odd, eccentric, obscure and sometimes twisted humor. His unique touches include an arthouse, avant-garde approach somehow combining retro and avant-garde modernities, with a heavy emphasis on experimental editing and cinematography. In short, an interesting, highly experimental film-maker with an unapologetic sense of humor.

Of Some Interest

A Janela (Maryalva Mix)  
Cartoonishly weird comedy from Portugal by Edgar PÍra, who pulls out another bonkers post-editing job. The theme seems to be a portrayal of the quintessential Portuguese man and woman, split into multiple personalities, because, as we all know, Portugal has the highest amount of schizophrenics. A man called Antonio is stabbed. His many female lovers take their turn in talking about Antonio, each one acted by the same woman, each describing a completely different man, acted by a different actor. One talks about a possible murder conspiracy, and Antonio himself talks about his many lovers and secret lives, but then Ego comes along to confuse things further. The acting is over-the-top, the characters are broadly drawn, they interact and prance in the streets of Lisbon with cartoonish slapstick, the hyper-editing uses split screens, color filters, warped footage and sound, and whatnot, all coming together for a uniquely silly, weird and wacky experience that you probably have to be Portuguese to appreciate.

Baron, The  
Try to imagine a retro-30s Dracula movie written as a Kafka-esque gothic horror in Portuguese with stylish subtitles as filmed by Guy Maddin, except that everyone involved fell asleep midway and kept on filming while dreaming the rest of the movie. A school inspector who hates travelling and people throwing up in his carriage, rides an ominous horse-driven wagon to a mysterious village run by an even more mysterious Baron. Everyone defers to the highly eccentric Baron, who promptly takes a liking to the inspector and attempts to bully and seduce him into staying, taking him to his castle for various entertainments. They talk about past loves and relationships with women, have a strange conversation about University degrees, play awkward social games over the topic of food and a mysterious maid, an impromptu group of people nicknamed the Orchestra break out in strange song, and dream-like horrors involving monsters and fires fade into the narrative. Somewhere along the way, it stops making any sense and seemingly pointless scenes and conversations go on forever, but the cinematography and atmosphere have long gone into a dreamlike state in any case so it doesn't matter. A film to dream, not to watch. I would have liked a bit more meat to chew on though.

Manual of Evasion  
Portuguese thought-provoking experimental movie by Edgar PÍra with a great potential for cult status. This is a very dense 50 minute movie featuring deep thoughts by cult personalities Rudy Rucker, Terence McKenna and others, while PÍra fills the screen with a wide variety of striking, absurd and mind-warping imagery, making me think sometimes that Dada is alive and well. Time is explored from many unusual angles, the narration sharing thoughts and new ways of looking at time, while the movie shows vignettes featuring actors acting out bizarre scenes, many of them expressionistic and comical. A 'short-time mob' is described, workers have conversations about strange events and sexual practices in some kind of clock laboratory, there are strange, campy, mad scientists and cultists performing experiments and exchanging electricity, there's a scene of sailors in a dome-structure evading a big swinging pendulum, a manager fondles a female clerk and eroticizes rubber stamps in an absurd attack on the commercial, working man, and the narration deconstructs time then demands the need to rise above it. This is just the tip of the iceberg, and it all unravels somewhat towards the end with its new-age attitude, but this is a must-see once for fans of the experimental movie, and is almost as good as the metaphysically absurd Nine Lives of Tomas Katz.




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