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Saturday, April 23, 2011

OSSOS / BONES (1997)

Pedro Costa’s hypnotic and hypnotically depressing film about the somnambulistic residents of a poverty stricken neighborhood in Lisbon, Portugal is more a contemplation than a narrative, fittingly so. The cast of cast-offs struggle to raise their eyelids as they move thru the day. One ‘borrows’ an infant as a tool for begging . . . or perhaps as barter? Another is more ambitious, vacuuming the homes of absent middle-class employers while a relative comes along to sleep on the sofa. Perhaps the garbage will yield a meal or two? The air of defeat is suffocating. Yet, the film, with its still camera set ups & heavy atmosphere has the bewitching tone of ‘found beauty’ in its warm colors and the frames-within-frames composition style, even as a vague rumble of threatening violence & loss smothers any possibility of social or economic movement. The poetry of poverty is a dangerous conceit for those who have to live the life, but it may be Costa’s great subject. (The film is part of a loose trilogy not yet seen.)

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