Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Jason watches MYSTERIES OF LISBON

I don't know what it is, but for some reason this year I've been really attracted to 4+ hour epics. Perhaps that's the closest I'll ever get to a long-term relationship.

Anyway, this movie is an adaptation of a novel, and is centered around Joao, an orphan raised by kindly father Dinis. He doesn't know his parents, but when his mother returns to town he learns he's the bastard child of an ill-fated romance of nobles. His father was noble but too poor to please his mother's father, and so they were forbidden to marry. But that's just the start of the story. Turns out nearly no one in the movie is what they appear to be, and their identities are always changing. A crude, belching assassin can turn into a nobleman, a gypsy can become a priest, etc. And like most long, leisurely stories, as much as anything it's about the simple joy of telling stories. Each character (or at least, each main character) gets a chance to tell his or her story. And they're told mostly in a playful, straight-forward, almost classical way. No special effects, just costumes, sets, dialogue, and acting putting the story front and center. If it weren't for the digital video, I could be convinced this was made 50 years ago.

And that brings me to my big gripe. Not that it was shot digitally, but that the projection where I saw it in the Camera 3 just wasn't up to the task. I know I handicap myself by sitting way up front, but the resolution was poor enough to be distracting, and far too often I caught myself counting pixels (the lines of the letters of the subtitles were only 3 pixels wide. I couldn't believe it). This is the sort of thing that I can normally forgive and look through. But it just seemed out of place here. Like the rest of the elements of the movie were so good, that it deserved a better projection. Maybe 5-10 years ago I would've forgiven it, but I've seen too many good digital projections since then and now the sad fact is it too often took me out of the movie.

Running Time: 272 minutes
My Total Minutes: 249,615


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