I've seen only Pedro Costa's segment and it's 5+ stars worth. It's a work that screams with anger and deep sorrow about an infernal past, but limiting itself only to evoke with a still, feverish intensity, images of an adult life lived in fear and desperation. It reminds one of an Aeschylus play in its way of conveying emotionally charged visions while staying most of time in the same confined space.
Starts with an unhappy cafe owner? Then a man in pajamas and a soldier in an elevator that was like Derek Jarman meets Joseph Beuys. "Prime minister, bankruptcy! You're worshipping Satan, boy?" Loved the old factory worker photo and the interviews. "I'll be 77 soon, and I still don't know what happiness is. They talk about it all the time on TV. But to be honest, I'm not sure what it is." And then some tourists.
"This Portugal-set quartet of shorts shows off its makers' cinematic personalities, with Aki Kaurismaki the most gloriously wistful, Manoel de Oliveira the funniest, Victor Erice the most socially engaged and Pedro Costa the most pretentious." - Variety.... Kaurismaki’s “Tavern Man” made me smile...a lot.
5 for Costa and for the Mubi community who shares the same view. Aki played it safe by making another Aki's film but very shallow that time as he never delved into his subjects as he always does in his other films. Erice's was successful by the workers' stories and the beautiful photo. Oliveira's was very simple, a joke with a punchline. Costa's is pure cinema. Ultimate cinema. Cinema with skin and it breathes.
The very best part of this film is the folks who worked the factory that closed in 2002 and their stories that are as varied as people, with one recurring theme that is the same for workers in every developed country. If the world refuses to retrain the older generation, then the world is losing dedicated & proud millions who know workers rights, and know how to work. Beautiful and grand! section, really grand.
The Kaurismaki, Erice, and Oliviera are pretty solid; the Costa is major, albeit the sort of major that doesn't play well in an omnibus. The second movie in an four-part omnibus shouldn't induce one to say "Okay, I need to take a break from movies and go process what just happened for the rest of my life."