quinta-feira, 17 de agosto de 2017
young men and their elders together experiencing the rigors of the wilderness is a kind of rite all over the world. It can be a time of self-discovery and liberation. In “The Wound,” a group of South African teenagers and their adult caretakers gather in a camp near mountains to observe a Xhosa ritual. The young men, called novitiates, are circumcised, and spend multiple weeks in the camp healing under supervision of the adults, who themselves underwent the procedure years before.
In this austere and unsettling film, directed by John Trengove and inspired by a novel by Thando Mgqolozana (who worked on the screenplay with Malusi Bengu and Mr. Trengove), the camp, which is the movie’s only setting, becomes a kind of prison. The taciturn Xolani (Nakhane Touré) is charged with looking after a sullen boy named Kwanda (Niza Jay Ncoyini). He’s also hooking up on the sly with Vija (Bongile Mantsai), another male caretaker with a wife and children back home. The campfire conversations of blustery teenagers and chest-puffing elders contrast with the shame and rage of Xolani, who is not out, and Vija, who is leading a double life. As it happens, Kwanda isn’t having it. He’s relatively comfortable with his sexuality and disgusted by Xolani, whom he sees as a hypocrite for having
Mr. Trengove shoots the film in intimate wide-screen, getting in close to the characters as they tamp down explosive feelings, often letting the spectacular landscapes break down into soft-focus abstractions. His direction is perfectly judged up to and including the shudder-inducing ending.
“The Queen of Spain,” a light ensemble romp from the veteran director Fernando Trueba, has fun with movie lore even as it pillories Hollywood’s deal-making with the Francisco Franco regime in the 1950s. (The film is a sequel to Mr. Trueba’s “The Girl of Your Dreams,” from 1998, about a Third Reich engagement with Spanish showbiz.) In “Queen,” an opening montage evoking newsreels describes Franco’s invitation to American studios to shoot in Spain.
Penélope Cruz, who also starred in “The Girl of Your Dreams,” is back as Macarena Granada, now a Hollywood superstar who, having acquired American citizenship, returns to her native Spain for a lavish American-Spanish coproduction about Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. Blas Fontiveros (Antonio Resines), a former director exiled in France (and an ex-paramour of Macarena’s), has sneaked back into the Spanish industry, working second-unit. After he is discovered by the authorities, Blas is banished to a labor camp, and a group that includes Macarena, her assistant (Loles Léon), married crew hands (Santiago Segura and Neus Asensi) and a bumbling actor (Jorge Sanz) must smuggle him back to France.
Mr. Trueba skillfully blends genuine and mock period footage to conjure the era, while Mandy Patinkin, as a blacklisted screenwriter; Cary Elwes, as a loutish American leading man; and Clive Revill, sending up John Ford, ably help represent the Hollywood contingent. As for Ms. Cruz, she luminously revisits the role of a screen diva who, when the country’s dictator visits the set, is not above telling him off in the most delightfully coarse of terms.
Finnish artist Touko Laaksonen, known by his nom de plume Tom of Finland, is brought above the radar of cultural history in this well-acted biopic.
In postwar Helsinki, in conditions of the gravest illegality, Laaksonen produced thousands on thousands of homoerotic fetish illustrations, showing bulgingly endowed leather-clad guys having an unapologetic good time. Tom of Finland’s work reached the liberated US in the 1960s via mail order, and he became a counterculture hero of gay liberation, virtually inventing a whole language of hedonism that influenced Queen, the Village People and the club scene.
Pekka Strang is very good as Tom; the movie suggests that he was traumatised by his wartime experiences – Finland being a co-belligerent of Hitler’s axis powers. The film shows a perhaps imagined episode of Laaksonen killing a Russian parachutist. But something in his creative alchemy responded to the brutality of Nazis and Soviets in uniform, and then to the uniforms of the police employed to break up cottaging in the parks. His eroticism subversively reclaimed these styles.
So what was Tom of Finland, ultimately? A gay version of R Crumb? Not exactly. Interestingly, the movie doesn’t locate a happy ending for him in being accepted by the contemporary art establishment: a much-discussed exhibition never happens in this film. Tom of Finland is perhaps closer to the 50s fetish pinup Bettie Page.
Either way, this drama suggests his importance is in something less culturally high-flown: simply being a rock’n’roll standard-bearer for gay men, he was the means by which happiness could be achieved. It is arguably a structural problem that the movie ends just as the HIV-Aids debate begins, with Laaksonen depicted fearing that he will be blamed, and rather earnestly promoting condom use.
Still: an intriguing demonstration of how eroticism in gay culture became overt, while straight porn retains its furtiveness and hiddenness.
david Lowery’s A Ghost Story is haunted more by sadness than fear, and a kind of black humour, drier than asbestos dust. It invites you to make what you will of its central image – a ghost wearing a sheet with eye-holes like a kid’s Halloween getup, or a big ungainly emoji. Lowery’s film has the same deadpan, unreadable quality as that white-masked face. But the shroud is worn as elegantly as the film’s own ambition and audacious simplicity.
Like Lowery’s movie Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (2013), which also starred Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck, it is a story of sundered love. But it is also a piercingly strange meditation on loss and grieving and what it means to imagine the people we love one day going on without us, and to imagine how the world is and was beyond our own fragile, temporary lives. Does such an act of imagination entail ghostlike alienation and trauma?
The unquiet spirit of Terrence Malick roams through this film’s rooms, and finally the ectoplasmid hands of M Night Shyamalan shimmer into view, grabbing the loose ends of the story’s beginning and end and tying them together.
The movie alludes to and is loosely inspired by Virginia Woolf’s 1921 story A Haunted House: its first line is quoted in the opening credits and a book falls open during the drama, revealing its crucial line about “treasure”.
Mara and Affleck play a couple living in a modest single-storey home. He is a musician and composer and she doesn’t appear to work. He is tender and loving but also sometimes abstracted and moody, often wrapped up in his music. There have been rows between them about his absences from home – for work, or maybe some other reason. She is keen to move, but he has an attachment to this rickety old place, a reluctance to leave it, for reasons that he can’t articulate. But on moving day there is a catastrophe: he is killed in a car crash and his spirit lives on, in the sheet that covered him in the morgue, and he is now aware of other ghosts, too.
As loyal and mute as an unseen dog, this ghost-man hangs around Mara wearing his deadly serious joke-store outfit, while she approaches and then pulls back from the edge of lonely despair. He even has to witness her having a romantic episode with a new man. She finally leaves the house after repainting it as a kind of therapy or exorcism, and writes a secret message on a piece of paper, sliding it into a crack in the doorframe and painting over it. And the ghost is left behind, unable to pick out the paper because his fingernails are beneath the sheet and condemned to roam the house, to watch over all its subsequent tenants, and then to haunt the property that will one day be built on its demolished remains, and even to haunt what was there before, the land staked out by midwest pioneers – a particularly brilliant and disturbing episode.
This is about the mysterious existence of an empty house, and the existences of people and places when we are not there. Maybe each of us is condemned to be an unknowable entity; each is the tree falling in the forest unheard. There’s a long, desolate but very pointed scene in which bereaved Mara simply sits down on the kitchen floor to eat herself into a miserable sickness. She is utterly alone, and it is as if she is the ghost.
As for the ghost himself, he is left unseen by the people that he haunts, but there are no cheesy cinematic effects of them moving “through” his body. It is pleasingly like a stage production of A Christmas Carol, in which the people shown to Scrooge simply pass by him. And, unlike movies such as Jerry Zucker’s Ghost (1990) with Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore or Anthony Minghella’s Truly, Madly, Deeply (1990) – both unfairly mocked and derided in their time for different reasons – there is no consolation or contact from beyond the grave.
But there is a kind of sentimental romance in the ghost’s silent stoicism and determination to carry on. The awful inevitability of death is complicated by the thought that you might have to survive, as a ghost, for reasons as arbitrary and meaningless as the cause of your death. Which is scarier still.