Thursday, 7 May 2009

Come and Go



"Vai~E~Vem" or "Come and Go" is not as far as I know based on the play as written by Samuel Beckett, although it does rub shoulders with many of Beckett's themes. Monteiro's films are not to everyone's tastes I know. If you like your films fast paced with loads of action, you'll hate Monteiro's work. If you think well crafted European Cinema is Amélie, Delicatessen or Run Lola Run, chances are you wont like Monteiro's films. I think in order to like Monteiro's films, you have to like Monteiro, and see the tinctures he applies to observation rather the tints, shades, splashes, sparks, dabs, blobs, skids, scuttles and titillation provided in the usual sense of capturing the world within and around us.

Monteiro's last film is "Come and Go", appropriate title I know. It is a very interesting work which sadly has a rather ill Joao Cesar playing Joao Vuvu a widower who hires a young cleaning lady who can't clean to become his cleaning lady. He spends his day riding the bus and sitting in a park which happens to be the location used for "He Goes Long Barefoot That Waits For Dead Men's Shoes".

It is said that in this last film Monteiro satirizes his critics and the only thing that gets in the way of his impish lampooning of himself is his sickness, he is actually dying before our eyes on screen. I imagine that if you don't know what he is poking fun at, the film might appear labored but I found it very refreshing, not just because of my Portuguese heritage (Maybe some genetic patience for the prolonged strolling nature of much Portuguese art, much like Portuguese time itself is residue in my biological system) but because Monteiro is actually editing film by his actions during the process of capturing footage rather then in post-production. Monteiro understands Temporal space used in motion pictures better then anyone.

This film is not an epitaph, but more a last sauntering sticky beak at life by a man who has paused before considering the finality of his mortality.

There is a lasting shot of Monteiro's eye to finish which to me seemed like the eye of a buzzard glaring at the world, you can see the reflection of his world held in the blue pupil. Whether Monteiro knew or not that this world be his final film, it certainly gives the impression that he was prepared for it to be the case.

One line uttered is: "Waiting for the muse to eat from our hands" - I sensed that the muse was often late and never came at all in "Come and Go" but still we waited. When it did come it was joyous, sometimes Monteiro holds out so long in a take then all of a sudden it comes, like when he is peering into the river, looking at fish, his son wants to visit the Oceanarian but it is shut at this time - so Mr Vuvu invites him to come to the river's edge and look at the world's Oceanarian, just as his son is bending over to see the fish, Joao quickly pushes him in, walking away with the line "Don't call me father again".

This is true sublime, at once laughing and at the same time acknowledging that Vuvu has disowned his son. He was a murderer in any case. On the whole, I really did see Joao Vuvu as a human buzzard (even looked exactly like one) picking at the remains of life's humanity.

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