Pedro Costa’s film follows Ventura, as he traverses a seemingly endless night steeped in sinister chiaroscuro and populated by the ghosts of his past. From the restless spirits that haunt this decaying urban landscape, Costa turns his exploration of memory into a spellbinding cinematic experience.
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Now is suffused w/ thens and w/ portents. The image is a voluptuary. Costa has Caravaggio'd to a place to which I am certain no other artist will ever get. This is a totem. A gnostic utterance, irreducibly profound, but smokey, opalescent. We're buried right out in the open. I have seldom felt so absolutely ravished by anything. This is what we would like to imagine drugs can do. Drugs can't do this. Not even close.
Wow! Costa gives us another film centred around the astonishing Ventura. It seems to be set in a dark dreamworld inhabited by Ventura's acquaintances both real and ghostly and of course, Ventura himself, who navigates his way around seemingly utterly lost but searching and existing. Costa adds a political element too which despite its obvious importance to Portuguese society, is irrelevant to Ventura and his people.
I have been watching this film over and over and I still can't quite get a handle on it. I think it might help if I knew more about the Portuguese revolution of 1974, which didn't get a lot of press. Maybe it would help, but this film weaves in and out of dream, history and subjective memory. Much more difficult than the comparatively accessible IN VANDA'S ROOM (2000), but Costa is great; this film, mystifying.
A ritual in transfigured time, spectral souls caught in and cutting a light in deep time, a round of the night of hunters and the h(a)unted, a ritualistic liturgy made of despossessed bodies and light: as with Rembrandt, the dignity of the human is an immense calligraphy, that brings a dimension of belonging, of habitability, Through a camera, the proletariansl night becomes conscience et cela s'appelle l'aurore.