Repertory

A weekly roundup of what else is screening around town.

By Matt Prigge
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted May. 7, 2008

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Romeo + Juliet
(1996) (Shown on film): Baz Luhrmann is no Julie Taymor. C+ Mon., May 12, 7pm.


International House
$5-$7, unless otherwise noted. 3701 Chestnut St. 215.387.5125. www.ihousephilly.org

Still Lives: Films of Pedro Costa
See A-List

Down to Earth
(1994) (Shown on film): Pedro Costa wasn't always a super-minimalist. His debut The Blood (already screened) was a cinephilic explosion, with a milky black-and-white look borrowed from Jacques Tourneur and a noir plot diced up into intentional incoherence. Down to Earth is his real debut. Here's where you find the social consciousness, the mix of documentary and fiction, the narrative and visual starkness that would pop up in the even more demanding likes of Colossal Youth. Down to Earth feels like a unique vision, with a Portuguese nurse traveling to the volcanic island of Cape Verde and becoming bewitched by the primal landscapes and the destitute but tight-knit community. But Costa, like his heroine, gets lost in the island, shucking plot at every turn so as to immerse us in the unforgiving area. Following Earth will be Costa's 2007 short Tarrafal, which revisits the island to wax, at least verbally, on a harsh prison that ran there for four decades under the Salazar regime. Wed., May 7, 7pm.

Bones
(1997) (Shown on film): The first in Costa's "Vanda Trilogy"--so named for the presence of Vanda Duarte, a non-pro discovered in the films' Fontainhas slum setting in this, In Vanda's Room and Colossal Youth--finds Costa yet to discover his signature shtick. A dash of miserablism shot in miserably dark 35 mm, Bones follows two maids, a young man and an unwanted infant through a miserable plot. The delicate balance achieved in the rest of Costa's work is pure oppression in this transitional work, though its mood is hard to shake off. B- Thurs., May 8, 7pm.

In Vanda's Room
(2000) (Shown on film): Krzysztof Kieslowski once said, "There are spheres of human intimacy in which one cannot enter with a camera." But a funny thing happened when Costa worked with non-pros on Down to Earth and Bones: He earned their trust, and the bubble popped. Bones' Duarte returns, this time letting Costa and his DV camera film her as herself. Never leaving her tiny one bedroom flat, she talks shit with friends, smokes crack and hacks her lungs out for a disturbingly high percentage of the three-hour running time. (To shake things up, if only the teensiest bit, Costa periodically visits other parts of the neighborhood.) Costa films in unblinking static shots, sometimes in near total darkness, but the intimacy he achieves with his subjects makes this more than just the ultimate in authenticity. A- Fri., May 9, 7pm.

Where Does Your Hidden Smile Lie?
(2001) (Shown on film): The acclaimed films of Jean-Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet (The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach) are near impossible to come by, but one doesn't need to know about them to get a lot out of the film. Shot entirely within a dim editing suite as the two piece together 1999's Sicilia!, Lie replicates the tedium of postproduction. It offers a lot to chew on, but it also paints a loving, hilarious portrait of the two as a couple. Straub, who paces back and forth around the doorway, prattles on endlessly on this and that. All the while, Huillet (who died in 2006) stays glued to the Steenbeck, clearly having learned to tune him out over their many decades together. B+ Sat., May 10, 2pm.

Colossal Youth
(2006) (Shown on film): Despite European acclaim since his start, Costa finally became a Western cinephilic craze with this equally acetic followup to In Vanda's Room. Duarte is now clean and living in swankier duds, but Costa's focus drifts mostly to a man named Ventura--a quiet, aging, intensely private native of Cape Verde who, when the film begins, was just left by his wife. Ventura spends Youth's two and a half hours wandering around like a ghost--sometimes sitting and staring, sometimes visiting the many fellow residents he calls his so-called "children," and far too often reciting the same wistful poem to himself. An experience surely more transporting in its way than Speed Racer, this, and the rest of the series, is required viewing. A- Sat., May 10, 7pm.

Reelback Presents: Best of Philly Short Film Showcase
(Shown on video): Reelblack 's fifth season comes to an end with this broad survey of African-American filmmakers working in the tristate area. Among those represented--with everything from narratives and documentaries to music videos and PSAs--are Shannon Newby, Nadine Patterson, Tim Greene, Ben Foster, Joseph H. Lewis III and Reelblack's own maestro Mike D. Tues., May 13, 7pm.


Wooden Shoe Books
Free. 508 S. Fifth St. 215.413.0999. www.woodenshoebooks.com

Sacco and Venzetti
(2006) (Shown on DVD): Tony Shalhoub and John Turturro lend their voices to Peter Miller 's doc, which reinterprets the famous case--wherein two Italian immigrants were falsely tried and executed for a crime they almost certainly did not commit--for the age of post-9/11 xenophobia and legal injustice. (Not reviewed.) Sat., May 10, 7:30pm.

Questions? Comments? Email mprigge@philadelphiaweekly.com

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