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Tag Archives: Pedro Costa

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After a very early morning bus ride from Jeonju to Gimpo airport in Seoul it was on to Tokyo, so that Marcella might have a little taste of Japan, and to do a workshop, again, at the Tokyo Film School.  While here seeing a lot,  including friends, and in a few days we’ll have a meeting with Matsumoto-san, who for some years now has been dangling the prospect of coming to here to teach a class which would result in a portrait of this massive and vastly interesting city.  Find out more then.

Meantime a bit of echo from Jeonju – this review posted on-line a few days ago.  Makes me wonder which projection they saw, the mangled first one, or the second using H264 file. Or perhaps at the DVD library. Anyway glad it got some nice ink.

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But then having sent a note to Pedro Costa to say how much I liked his film Horse Money, he replied saying his French and German supporters were no more, and it was back to the real cheap film process for the next one.  Doesn’t matter how good you are, if it isn’t calculatedly “commercial,” in the present world it is deemed worthless.  What an ugly world.

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But it is our world.  Brutal – especially if you are black-skinned in America, or poor anywhere – and dishonest, as with Obama approving arctic drilling and trying to slip the TPP “trade deal” over at midnight, or other such things.  For the moment the neo-liberal-con ideology has appeared to triumph, and the world is suffocating under its grasp.  Though as with all such things, seeming “victory” tends towards over-reach, and there’ll soon be a comeuppance.  The current US weather gives a hint of this future….

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And then yesterday, in a BIC Camera store here, I saw the new Sony 4K Handicams, the larger one costing now about $4K.  Half the price of my XDcam a handful of years ago.   To add to the avalanche of unneeded imagery drowning the world.

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Yesterday, at the Jeonju festival, finally had a chance to see Pedro Costa’s latest film, Horse Money. It follows on the heels (slow) of his Fontainhas trilogy, adding an extension, both in terms of characters, content, and cinematic aesthetics, to those three films. For me the most striking aspect of these works – Ossos (1997, shot in 35mm film); In Vanda’s Room (2000, dv), Colossal Youth (2006, HD) – is the progression in the cinematic means, in which Costa steadily strips down to the utter essentials for his purposes. He arrives at an elusive, poetic state in which the most common of conversation – shown in anything but “common” settings and utterance – take on a solemn gravity, such that the recitation of the data of a birth certificate, or the most commonplace of thoughts, become freighted with tragedy.

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He accomplishes this with a mix of imagery that echoes Zurbarán, Ribera and other Spanish painters under the sway of Caravaggio, as well as of Goya in his darker passages.

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Posed in darkened settings, shot in angles which isolate figures and monumentalize them, the light falls carefully upon them, seemingly “natural” light, but in this film clearly highly controlled and composed. Coupled with his character’s readings of the words – Bressonian in their minimalist recitation – Costa extracts from the most humble of people a stunning and deep chord of humanity, in all its mundane misery and tragedy. Horse Money, like any serious art, places a heavy demand on those who would get from it what lies in its depths. A great work by a great artist.

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For further reviews and thoughts on this film, see these:

http://www.indiewire.com/article/locarno-review-pedro-costas-existential-ghost-story-horse-money-will-get-under-your-skin-20140813
 
http://cinema-scope.com/cinema-scope-magazine/tiff-2014-horse-money-pedro-costa-portugal-wavelengths/
 
http://www.indiewire.com/article/locarno-review-pedro-costas-existential-ghost-story-horse-money-will-get-under-your-skin-20140813
http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/review/horse-money

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While here I’ve walked out of a few of the films I’ve gone to see (not many), and did manage to see, after a long wait, Wang Bin’s Man With No Name, which left me pondering a few matters, from how did he manage to get an OK from his subject, to was it a matter of the man appears a bit mentally short and perhaps did not quite understand what he was agreeing with?  Ethical matters.  While I liked the film I felt it missed out just a little, in part from aesthetic matters, like perhaps it would have been a bit more powerful if the contrast had been upped, and such technical/aesthetic matters as that.  I do think any Hollywood filmmaker intending to make a film about poor people might take a look to get an idea what real dirt looks like.

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