Centro Histórico Screen 8 articles

Centro Histórico

2012

Centro Histórico Poster
  • Omnibus films are like cobblestone streets: Their bumpiness is both unavoidable and part of the charm, while success depends on a persuasive organizing principle apart from just a bunch of stones thrown together. For this new portmanteau, it’s a bit of both, with four shorts from a quartet of extraordinary filmmakers, each in their own way paying homage to the northern Portuguese city of Guimarães. Yet the extreme variance of style and scrutability makes for wildly disorienting viewing.

  • [Perhaps the movie] will be less disappointing if one has never visited [Guimarães]... Best by far is Spanish director Victor Erice’s simple, straight-forward oral history of a once huge, now derelict textile factory in which, standing before his static camera, a dozen or so workers brief recount their life stories and thus provide a collective portrait of a vanished working class.

  • Decidedly unfootnoted, Mr. Costa’s contribution is a stringent, heady, narcotic passage that brooks no stragglers... Mr. Kaurismaki’s “Tavern Man” imagines, not very memorably, the silent-film routine of a waiter-proprietor (Ilkka Koivula) at a cafe that’s slightly but decisively off the beaten path.

  • Víctor Erice's documentary combined workers at a recently closed factory in the city whose existence spanned a hundred and fifty year history with a mural-sized image of workers from that factory in its canteen in the early 20th century. And in Manoel de Oliveira's wry joke of a finale to the omnibus he portrays Guimarães, and, implicitly, Portugal itself, as a vacant setting or stage in which actors act as guides to explicate history to visiting tourists.

  • [Kaurismäki's segment is] a sweet and simple offering, if cruelly brief. However, the film’s real prize, arriving between Pedro Costa’s off-putting, elevator-bound segment and Manoel de Oliveira’s light-hearted parting vignette, was Víctor Erice’s documentary salute to the former employees of a now-defunct textile factory.

  • Two of these four short films about the Portuguese city of Guimarães are by Portuguese directors, and they are standouts... Oliveira offers a simple and rarefied lesson in vision, finding blazingly clear angles to reveal ancient wonders in a renewed immediacy, to look ancient heroes in the face, and to take their point of view—visual and historical, whimsical yet hopeless—against the undiscerning modern crowd.

  • ...A rich, artful quartet of shorts mirroring the diverse idiosyncrasies of four significant auteurs... Closing out the omnibus is the world's oldest working filmmaker, Manoel de Oliveira, with "The Conquered Conqueror," a wry analogue to Costa's colonialism study...

  • Finnish master Aki Kaurismäki starts things off in a sprightly fashion with his “Tavern Man,” a 15 minute sketch of a bar owner struggling to keep up with the times... It’s fittingly surprising that the last segment, perhaps the most understated and solid, comes from 103-year-old Manoel de Oliveira, who at this point may be creating the best work of his career.

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