Monthly Archives: October 2012

Eruptions and Disruptions in the House of Lava

Written for the Second Run DVD of Pedro Costa’s Casa de Lava, released in the U.K. in 2012, and developed from separate articles in the Chicago Reader, November 15, 2007, and the Portuguese collection cem mil cigarros: OS FILMES DE PEDRO COSTA, edited by Ricardo Matos Cabo, Lisboa: Orfeu Negro, 2009. — J.R.

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The cinema of Pedro Costa is populated not so much by characters in the literary sense as by raw, human essences — souls, if you will. This is a trait he shares with other masters of portraiture, including Robert Bresson, Charlie Chaplin, Jacques Demy, Alexander Dovzhenko, Carl Dreyer, Kenji Mizoguchi, Yasujiro Ozu, and Jacques Tourneur. It’s not a religious predilection but rather a humanist, spiritual, and aesthetic tendency. What carries these mysterious souls, and us along with them, isn’t stories — though untold or partially told stories pervade all of Costa’s features. It’s fully realized moments, secular epiphanies.

Born in Lisbon in 1959, Costa grew up, by his own account, without much of a family. Speaking about O sangue, his first feature, he admitted that there was a personal aspect in his concentration on the incomplete family in that film “because I never really had a family.… Read more »

Eduardo de Gregorio, 1942-2012

On October 14, 2012 I received the sad news from Pierre Bayle d’Autrange that his longtime partner Eduardo de Gregorio, also a longtime friend of mine (since 1973), died Saturday night at the St. Louis Hospital in Paris, not long after his 70th birthday.

I wrote the following for the festival catalogue of the Buenos Aires Festival of Independent Film in 2004, to accompany a retrospective of Eduardo’s films — as far as I know, the only such retrospective that was ever held. It is also reprinted — along with a short essay of the same length on Sara Driver (also the subject of a BAFICI retrospective that year)– in “Two Neglected Filmmakers,” a piece included in my most recent collection, Goodbye Cinema, Hello Cinephilia as well as here.  — J.R.

Eduardo de Gregorio’s Dream Door

It must be a bummer to be an Argentinian writer and/or filmmaker and constantly get linked to Jorge Luis Borges. It must be especially hard if you’re Eduardo de Gregorio, whose first major screen credit is on an adaptation of “Theme of the Traitor and Hero” for Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1970 feature The Spider’s Strategm.

I don’t mean to question the credentials of de Gregorio as a onetime student of Borges — just the appropriateness of a too-narrow understanding to impose on a singular body of work that owes as much to cinematic references as to literary ones, and one that indeed juxtaposes the two almost as freely as it juxtaposes different languages and historical periods (while including all the cultural baggage that comes with each of them).… Read more »