From the Chicago Reader (September 13, 2002). — J.R.
I’m Going Home
Directed and written by Manoel de Oliveira
With Michel Piccoli, Antoine Chappey, Catherine Deneuve, John Malkovich, Leonor Baldaque, and Sylvie Testud.
It seems entirely fitting that I’m Going Home — a beautiful feature by Manoel de Oliveira, who turns 94 this December and is still going strong — should open in Chicago, at the Music Box, just after September 11. This 2001 French film by a Portuguese master who occasionally makes films in France is the kind of quiet masterpiece that fully registers only after you’ve seen it — a profound meditation on bereavement and other kinds of loss (including losing one’s way) as well as on everyday life and things right under our noses that we accept as “other,” including old age and art and different cultures.
The French DVD of this film has an interview with Oliveira in Portuguese, subtitled in French, in which he explains what this movie means to him. He speaks alternately about the film’s plot, which he calls a tragedy, the real incident that inspired it (a famous actor in his 70s forgot his lines while shooting a film), and what he calls the “tragedy of our civilization.” He speaks about globalization and modernization, ecological destruction, dehumanization, and people’s dependence on gadgets and objects — the last two epitomized by a man he saw speaking on a cell phone.… Read more »
The fourth feature made by Portuguese master Manoel de Oliveira since he turned 90, this 2001 film is set in Paris (which has seldom looked better or been evoked more affectionately) and concerns a famous French actor in his 70s (Michel Piccoli at his best) learning to cope with solitude after an auto accident has claimed the lives of his wife, his daughter, and his son-in-law. The film shows its protagonist at workcostarring with Catherine Deneuve in Ionesco’s Exit the King, playing Prospero in a French production of The Tempest, and trying to speak English in a film adaptation of Joyce’s Ulysses, directed by John Malkovich. But Oliveira is equally attentive and respectful as the hero enjoys such everyday rituals as playing with his grandson or reading the newspaper over his daily expresso. For a film about bereavement this is surprisingly light, and while its simplicity is deceptive, it may be Oliveira’s most accessible work to date, a masterpiece by one of the world’s greatest filmmakers. In English and subtitled French. 90 min. (JR)… Read more »
Underrated all-star western by Richard Brooks about four soldiers of fortune hired by Ralph Bellamy to rescue his wife (Claudia Cardinale) from Jack Palance down in Mexico. This 1966 film was eclipsed in many people’s minds by The Wild Bunch three years later, but it’s a good, solid job, and with Burt Lancaster, Lee Marvin, Robert Ryan, and Woody Strode, how could you miss? Adapted from Frank O’Rourke’s novel A Mule for the Marquesa, with cinematography by the great Conrad Hall. 117 min. (JR)… Read more »