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The Auteurs Daily: Toronto and NYFF. Eccentricities of a Blond Hair Girl

The Auteurs Daily

Eccentricities of a Blonde Hair Girl

"With a slender running time of 64 minutes," writes Acquarello, "Eccentricities of a Blond Hair Girl is a compact, richly textured illustration of [Manoel de] Oliveira's multivalent approach to storytelling - distilling human desire into its unexpected, essential incarnations to create not only a timeless story of longing and unrequited love, but also a relevant, modern day cautionary tale on materialism and excess."

"Oliveira brings a dry, sensual elegance to this tale of hearts confounded by circumstances and silences, and he portrays social formalities as mating rituals for human animals on the verge of brutality," writes Richard Brody in the New Yorker.

An "absolute delight," declares Josef Braun.

But for Time Out New York's Joshua Rothkopf, "this awkward, hour-long adaptation of a minor short story by Eça de Quierós feels tired and totally divorced from the way modern lovers behave."

It stars "Ricardo Trêpa as Macário, an accountant who precipitates his financial ruin after the uncle who employs him shuns his desire to marry the fan-waving honey who lives across the way from their scarf shop," writes Ed Gonzalez in Slant. "[T]his anecdote of a film may be found agreeably weird by anyone who thrills at the sight of old people crossing expansive city streets before the traffic light turns green."

"If this tale weren't so endearing and well told, it'd be more akin to one of those lengthy jokes told by aged uncles lacking in point or punchline," writes Jeff Reichert in Reverse Shot. "As it is, we're carried through by Oliveira's subtle, perfectly placed, but barely moving camera, often pointed directly into the wall seams of cramped rooms, subtly emphasizing the curvature of the lens and the cinematic vantage point from which we're receiving Macário's story. There's nothing out of place here, even an impromptu dance number performed by our lothario meshes with the rest of the pleasingly stilted proceedings. It's a testament to the malleability of Oliveira's art - he never makes anything but recognizably Oliveira films, but his alleged rigidity is far more wide open than it seems at first glance."

Earlier: Daniel Kasman from Berlin.



Update, 10/6: "Oliveira's characteristically chaste framings and sumptuous décor are enlivened by some errant formal devices that it would be a shame to divulge. Okay, I'll mention one because it kicks in from the start." David Bordwell describes the sequence; then: "Whippersnapper directors a third Oliveira's age would not dare so much."

TIFF 09: Index; full coverage; lineup.

NYFF 09: Index; full coverage.

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