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Friday, March 11, 2011

Um Filme Falado (aka A Talking Picture) (2003)

Divided into three parts beginning with a history professor (Leonor Silveira) and her small daughter (Filipa De Almeida) traveling from Portugal to India via ship to meet the husband for a vacation. Along the way, there are stops at France, Italy, Greece, Turkey and Egypt where the mother teaches her daughter about the history of civilization and each country's contribution to it. The second part is at the Captain's table, where the Captain (John Malkovich) entertains three famous women as they all speak their native language but have no problem understanding each other as Catherine Deneuve speaks French, Irene Papas speaks Greek, Stefania Sandrelli (THE CONFORMIST) speaks Italian and Malkovich English as they discus politics, philosophy and gender. The last part has the professor and daughter joining the Captain and his guests. Directed by Manoel De Oliveira, who in his 90s is the world's oldest active director, this film is both amusing and charming, part travelogue, part educational that the film's capricious, somewhat arbitrary, disturbing ending seems like a mean spirited prank. But when I say arbitrary I mean that it feels arbitrary though it's no coincidence that the film is set two months before 9/11.

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