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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A TALKING PICTURE (2003)

Nonagenarian Portuguese writer/director Manoel de Oliveira takes us on a Mediterranean cruise with brief stops for historical/cultural sightseeing before throwing up metaphorical hands at the modern world of terrorism & destruction. Alas, for all his cult appeal at international film festivals (who else is waving the Portuguese flag?) the fine line between earned wisdom and banality passing itself off as profundity is violated here. And just when you think the film has reached its nadir at a polyglot Captain’s table (Irene Papas: Greek; Catherine Deneuve: French; Stefania Sandrelli: Italian; John Malkovich: English), even this is surpassed when a little girl goes back to retrieves a dolly from her cabin at just the wrong moment. Oh, the irony of it all. As a film stylist, Oliveira comes up with some handsome shots, but how he sits on them! In the overrated European auteur department, only Rossellini equals this for didactic intellectual blather.

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