An elderly criminal becomes a folk hero as he successfully evades hordes of police; a stern judge oversees a case involving 13 stolen cows, mail-order brides, a genie and a machete-wielding human lie detector; a Maltese poodle shuffles between households in a recession-stricken estate.
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Arabian Nights: Volume 2, the Desolate OneDirected byMiguel Gomes
It's funny: though I suspect that Volume 2 is the least likely of the three to be programmed (in a festival context for example) on its own, independent of its bookends, in many ways I think it might be the one that works best as a standalone, perhaps, paradoxically, because the three separate pieces are so utterly distinct. The Desolate One is a masterclass on how to work w/ actors and non-actors in the same movie.
Overall "Arabian Nights" is an ambitious yet unsuccessful project. While Vol. I is disjointed and ostentatious, Vol. III is inconsequent and trivial. At least Vol. II gives a good idea of what the project might have become if it had been properly executed. The first story is a nice take on contemporary contemplative film, the second story is a funny satire and the third story is a charming Perec-like kaleidoscope.
Chico Chapas is perfect as Simão 'Sem Tripas'. He is a non-actor. In a intriguing way. Unlike the Kusturica oddities that seem to fit the role and don't even need to act: they seem to have been found as they were presented, weird and wonderful and camera friendly. And unlike other non-actors in small roles in this very same film that are just bad actors (but don't harm the work). Chapas has a genuine uneasiness. *
The inconsistency and irrelevance continue to dominate the second volume of this filmmaker authorial saga, not reaching the desired nonsense parable for the second episode or the rural semiotic epic for the first. However, in sparse instants of the third episode, despite a traditional dramaturgy, there are few moments of a less indistinct formality. Very little to keep on taking the cloud for Juno.
TIFF '15 Volume 2 reps the best entry in the trilogy by being the most focused on its tales while respecting its framework. The long tale 'The Tears of the Judge' contain some of the finest satire in recent memory and an exceptional turn by Luisa Cruz. The tale well bordered by two other exceptional tales wisely makes its points of culpability, collusion and bureaucracy in a comic setting.