No one cares about reality anymore: thoughts on the trailer of Knight of Cups

[To my review of The Tree of LifeThe Imaginary Family of Terrence Malick.]

“Before those Hollywood columnists get their hands on it, maybe you’d like to hear the facts, the whole truth. If so, you’ve come to the right party.” (Sunset Boulevard)

Knight of Cups is a movie about the movie world. An old and important genre where we find Sunset Boulevard, Sullivan’s Travels, A Star Is Born, In a Lonely PlaceThe Barefoot Countessa, Le Mépris, Mulholland Drive, just to mention some particularly well-known and important examples of an enormous list, that can be divided, at least apparently, in films about the old days (Singing’ in the Rain, Inside Daisy Clover, The Last Tycoon) and the present ones (not to mention the days to come).

The photographer taking a shot in Sunset Boulevard. Suggestion: read what I wrote the last post about cinepilia and photography.

There is an even bigger list containing all movies about what is behind some curtain: in theater, painting, advertising; and politics, love, etc. Conclusion? The curtain, the veil, defines this genre: if there isn’t one, you can’t discover the “whole truth.”

Badlands: Palm trees and a river/canal running through them.

The impression from this poorly inspired trailer (by Malick himself?) is that Knight of Cups might offer a different kind of filmic experience in some aspects. How different? After all, the trailer speaks about the palm trees (of Los Angeles, I suppose), those that tell you that “anything is possible” and palm trees already appeared in Badlands, in one of Holly’s stereoscopic cards: “Where would I be this very moment if...?” In The Thin Red Line we saw them again, through Private Bell’s eyes.

Apocalypse in Hollywood?

Regarding this coincidence, a story should be told: once there was a young director who debuted with a film about Holly...wood, Badlands.
Kit (not to speak of Holly) is, at some level, a product of the factory of dreams, an imitator of James Dean obsessed with fame and living in a world of his own where pulling the trigger is apparently not very different of lighting a cigarette. So if this first film showed us a rather ironic portrait of a movie-fan (who happened to be a serial-killer), this one is about the life of a movie-maker (someone involved in the process of which results a film).


Got the joke?

We can look behind the screen (Knight of Cups, supposedly), show what’s in front of it (Badlands, apparently), or contemplate what’s on the very screen. This third case, the specular film, the film about the film, inevitably contains the second (the director’s filmic memory). It might not seek to represent the object of the first (Fellini’s 81/2, another essential reference, does), at least as a material reality, but works playing these three keys of the piano are not rare (Singing’ in the Rain, for example). Of course that the “whole truth” can be that what’s in the back is what’s in the front: spectacle and speculum, the director’s and ours.

Cinema is strange, lot of people take it for a game... Place your bets! I leave you just a guess about the statue: Cocteau. I am going to restrain myself not to tell you about the rest. One film about the movie world is called The Player...

Already The Tree of Life contained something new with those computer generated dinosaurs, in particular. It will now be interesting to see how Malick will appropriate himself of an universe of delirious artificiality, not only interior, but exterior to the camera. Is our architect learning from Las Vegas? At times the trailer looks like the last days of Sodom by MTV. How will the metacinematic character of Malick’s work be affected? Will it become more explicit and traditional? Next year we will know.

La dolce vita



Mad about Madeleine: on some notable members of Madeleine's fan club

[It is useless to read the following before my review of The Tree of LifeThe Imaginary Family of Terrence Malick.]
« Nous sommes des rejetés de la jetée. » (Le bassin de J. W.)
Vertigo has the central place in Malick’s experiment. It is always good time to ask why.
This film now at the peak of its critical success has known innumerable homages, allusions, metaphorical uses and remakes. This post gathers three authors who kept an intense, if not obsessive, relation with what is probably the most obsessive and implacable film ever made.
The way these three played with Vertigo’s ghost was different and always personal. Each one has his own Madeleine. But what is interesting to confirm in all of them, part of the crème de la crème of French cinema, is the identification of Madeleine with cinema itself: miracle and curse. Hope it will be useful to understand the game Malick is playing since 1973.
“I think of a world where each memory could create its own legend.” (Sunless) 


Not much time was needed so that Vertigo (1958) would prove to have a particular place in the mythology of cinephilia. Apparently, the first group of fanatics appeared in France. They published on the film. They made films influenced by it. The disease spread all over the world. And so on.
Jules et Jim (1962) and To the Wonder. Marina has la peau douce.
Truffaut, as you would expect, showed immediate influence. Although not an “expert” - with few exceptions, not even a fan - of his filmography, I would say that Truffaut took several years to develop a particularly intimate (as intimate as the other two directors here mentioned) relation with Hitchcock’s masterpiece. When we arrive to The Green Room (1978), the color of Scottie’s insanity room, it was definitely in his heart.
The candle of candles, the candle of cinema, The Tree o Life.
Frankly, I have some difficulty to be in tune with Truffaut and his chapel. Some present The Green Room as a story of a failure, a fatal failure, identifying with Truffaut’s cinema, or cinema itself. Anyway: candles lighten to each of his “friends” - more in the spiritual sense than biographical - like Doinel did with Balzac, and the protagonist’s wife portrayed in impeccable profile in the green room. It would be consensual to say that The Green Room transformed Madeleine in some sort of personification of Truffaut’s cinema, the temple where his religion of memory takes place, very much in Malick’s way. This play with a photo by Truffaut is exactly of the same type we often find in the American’s work. In this respect note that Truffaut’s chapel is not far from a museum. (Adorno knew one was not far from mausoleum...) A museum of still images. Still images are produced, stolen, adored, collected in Truffaut’s films. Played with, like with Summer with Monika’s still, stolen - from Bergman - in Les quatre cents coups to inspire the film’s final shot, frozen in a still image. Truffaut shot and buried by the camera in his own film.


If the hypothesis exposed in My Dear Wife is right, Godard was immediately catch in Madeleine’s spiral too. And in a much more dangerous way. Because in Vivre sa vie (1962) - just four years between the two films - the spiral designed by the director already embraces other living creature and one linked to him by affection. In this film Godard insinuates a use of his wife similar to Scottie’s use of Judy. Near the thin red line, this experiment is closely attached to the memory of cinema, as Karina’s name, haircut, etc. are cinephiliac fetishes. Not to speak of Madeleine’s profile, of course.


La jetée (1962) and Les statues meurent aussi (1953)

“He wrote me that only one film had been capable of portraying impossible memory - insane memory: Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo.” (Sunless, 1983) In that same year of 1962 we find the first - and probably yet to be surpassed - open declaration of obsessive love to Hitchcock’s film, La jetée. Where will we find something nearly as intense? In Rivette’s Histoire de Marie et Julien (2003)? Each one to answer.
Marker, who gave us one of the best comments on the film (last version published in 1994) saw Vertigo as a film about power and freedom, «.... he imagined Scotty as time’s fool of love, finding it impossible to live with memory without falsifying it. Inventing a double for Madeleine in another dimension of time, a zone that would belong only to him ...» (Sunless). More than once and in more than one way (including explicitly) he presented La jetée, his 1962 “photo roman” as Vertigo’s remake.
How can one deal with Hitchcock’s nightmare of obsessive repetition? Repeating it, might be an answer. Inventing a double for oneself in another dimension of time, a zone that would belong only to oneself. Double meets double. Sounds familiar?

“... a fabulous shot shows us `all four of them' together: him and his double, her and her double. «... un plan fabuleux nous les montre "tous les quatre", elle et son double, lui et son double. » (A free replay, Marker, 1994). Note the two in profile in the mirror.

Immemory (1997)
La jetée. A cemetery, museums, birds, stuffed or not, flowers, corridors... The voyager in time finds, recognizes the woman he is searching in that fatal profile. We would not need the sequoia in the Jardin des plantes where “the hand pointed to a place outside the tree, outside of time,” to know immediately that also Marker was mad about Madeleine.
A “museum, which is perhaps that of his memory.” («… un musée qui est peut-être celui de sa mémoire. », La jetée). Suppress perhaps.
It was indeed an extraordinary coincidence that La jetée was shot in tunnels latter occupied by the Cinémateque française. To what extent it is a film about cine-philia - impossible, mad cinephilia - is difficult to determine. C. Lupton puts it like this: “The woman herself represents cinema as the object of the man’s desire: it is the film that seems to wake up as she does.” (2005) Galatea waking to her lover.

Must be imagining a photo roman...

The reference to Hitchcock is clear. The rest is uncertain and that is part of the spell of the film. Some find a touch of Metropolis in those creepy corridors. We can develop more crazy interrogations. There is that Neapolitan ruin where Rossellini films a famous scene of Viaggio in Italia (1954). The statues. Those shots with the woman sunbathing... Mere coincidences? Would the hammock be some kind of memory of Eisenstein?

"You see lady, it is here that lovers came to question the Sibyl, when they wanted to know what the course of their love would be." We find in Viaggio in Italia's Naples, a city of ruins and catacombs, some authentic pits of Time, themes dear to Marker, like the relation between the living and the dead. One of the great experiences of Time that cinema has given us. Would not be at all surprised if the photo was really an allusion to Rosselini.

Don’t ask me. In the long corridors of La jetée little light enters. But that the eyes play a main role in the voyager’s experiment - as in ours - there is no doubt. Eyes where lives the infinite and hypnotizing spiral of Vertigo.
You certainly will not consider an exaggeration to call mad about Madeleine to a man who wrote in his comment to her film: “Obviously, this text is addressed to those who  know Vertigo by heart. But do those who don’t deserve that we write them [anything at all]?” (« On l’a vu, ce texte ne s’adresse qu’à ceux qui connaissent Vertigo par coeur. Mais est-ce que les autres méritent qu’on leur écrive ? »)


“Hitchcock’s first major find was to slow the rhythm of her "passage" to a virtual freeze-frame (he came very close to this limit but was careful not to reach it fully).” (The Pygmalion Effect)
Stopping in motion. Some of the finest films (and other works of art, by the way) made under Vertigo’s inspiration are as precious to interrogate Hitchcock’s masterpiece as the finest written analyses. In La jetée, for example, we notice that Marker did more or less the inverse, accelerating the rhythm of the photos to a virtual movement as the woman awakes, and looks to the camera. Inversely, Marker’s film is saying that Madeleine’s profile is at the border of photography. (After all, Vertigo’s camera is identifying with Hitchcock’s photographer, James Stewart in Rear Window...) From this perspective, nothing more natural than to find a photography of a double of Madeleine as an image-memory of a dead woman in The Green Room; or Karina opening Vivre sa vie framed as that truth that 24 times a minute becomes a film.
To stop oneself on a detail, to frame it, to detach it from the rest, to adore it. Photography often serves fetishist practices, as Truffauts’s films eloquently show. Curiously, these practices are intimately related to cinephilia. Doinel steals Monika’s still. In La nuit américaine, during his dream, the director steals Citizen Kane’s promotional stills. Our emotional relation with cinema is often built on details: the way a word is said, a gesture, a song, a particular shot. These are the treasure’s cinephiles collect in their memories. And that they try to revive and to combine in their films. Analyzing Jules et Jim’s supposed hesitation between desire for movement and nostalghia for immobility, Ludovic Cortade diagnosed a "Pygmalion complex" to Truffaut («... il est pérmis de déviner dans Jules et Jim une conception du mouvement faite d'hésitations entre le désir de mouvement et la nostalgie de immobilité, ce qui apparenterait Truffaut à un nouveau Pygmalion. ») To a certain point, this hesitation might describe the cine-phile as a cine-creator: between the adoration of the works of the past and the desire to use, to profane them in order to produce a new film. The fascination for the Mother (image) and the desire to substitute the Father (narration), if you like that sort of talk.
“While in principle a frontal shot suggests confrontation, dialogue, or exchange, the profile [of Madeleine], on the other hand, is pure spectacle.” (The Pygmalion Effect) Certainly not the profiles of the mentioned films, at least in the sense that subject and object do not interact. In them we have nothing more, as Monteiro would say, than the spectator turned into spectacle. Spectaculum as spectare at the speculum of cinephilia. Or the cinephile as his own spectacle. Doinel looking at the camera.


Obviously, the way of nature is addressed to those who know the history of cinema by heart. But do those who don’t deserve anything at all? Certainly, but they would better search it somewhere else.

“This was the heavenly loveliness/ Of my Circe, and the sweet poison/ That could transform my thought.” (Gods Comedy, Camões, inspired in Petrarch, Canz. 213: very photographic poems) Look up for the beautiful quotation of Goya in Come and Go...


2 ou 3 choses que je sais de Monteiro (et de Malick)

This post constitutes an afterword to Wait and see, published on João César Monteiro some months ago. It is a self-interview, as 2 ou 3 choses que je sais de Malick, although it is not its continuation. Malick is secondary in what follows, but some important themes explored in relation with his cinema (particularly in My Dear Wife) are mentioned. Knowledge of the older posts is required.

The blog insists on the similarities between Monteiro’s work and Malick’s.
An early intuition that the two were condemned to be studied in parallel proved to be right. Although it first seemed that it would be mainly Monteiro to illuminate Malick, the American can help us to understand the Portuguese’s mirror too. The analogies between their works are often incredible. The difficulty is not to efface their particularities. In this kind of critical exercise we often tend to reduce everything to the same idea.

Both directors share a great number of references.
They do. Not to strange. They were born with few years of difference and they were both members of the same civilization. They started to film more or less at the same time too. And because they wanted to, not as a job, much less as a way to get rich. Two sons of the Nouvelle-vague. Of course Monteiro had a turbulent and precarious life – sentimentally, economically, mentally – typical of a poète maudit in many ways. His family and upbringing were diverse too. But what matters to us is their interior world. Looking to their art, first thought the major difference is the presence on the screen. Monteiro seems to confuse himself more with his characters, although this is basically an erroneous impression.

The problem of incarnation.
Yes, God the Father and God the Son. When Monteiro does Recollections of the Yellow House he knows he is giving his body to the screen in a dangerous way. But that was all the point, really to enter an abyss of abjection encompassing all his being. Total exposition and nothing else. Come and Go goes to the point of self-immolation, as it was said. But let us not forget He Goes Long Barefoot That Waits For Dead Man’s Shoes (and what follows). In that film, his double had a different image, but the confrontation with the audience – and with the mirror, of course – was already direct. Much more direct than in Eustache, for example, one of the film’s inspirations.

But there is a notable difference from Kit in this early experiment. The character has the director’s voice.
He has. And what’s that? In Monteiro’s next film (The Holy Family) his double is called João Lucas. That is Portuguese for “Jean Luc.” Typical self-parody. Monteiro, who had made nothing more than two cheap movies, insinuating himself as the Portuguese Godard... But the crucial question of madness – deliberate madness – also lives in this name. “Lucas” can be a popular euphemism for “louco,” mad. “Fazer-se Lucas”: to play mad. So, João le fou, a mad Godard. And what would be such a thing? Was not Godard a little mad himself? Could that madness be more explored, more extreme? In what film he was madder?

João le fou confronting the camera as a kind of sphinx with pig's face.
According to you, in Vivre sa vie (My Dear Wife). In the famous portrait he painted of his wife.
You arrived to the answer. This is nothing but the painter painting a portrait of his wife in his magic mirror.

The Fall of the House of Usher. Painting Madeline... or Madeleine.

With great artists things like Monteiro dubbing his character happen first unexpectedly and rather innocently. The disturbing meanings they will find are incomprehensible at first. Vertigo, Vivre sa vie, Persona: an essential trilogy to consider Monteiro’s mirror. You know, Madeleine’s profile, Madeleine’s ghost reappears in God’s Comedy, when Monteiro is transforming Rosarinho, putting her the yellow ribbon, a cinephile fetish.

She wore a yellow ribbon…
Yes, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. Although the game is more obsessive (and boring) in Malick, the ribbon is not so different of Holly’s red hair, Kit’s riffle, Cato’s chicken and so on. Monteiro show us brilliantly how his mirror – his spiral – absorbs, vampirizes a chosen creature. Malick tries to go to the point of doing it with his very anonymous spectators.

From Come and Go: “Stay out of other people’s lives if you don’t want to end there.”
Good warning. It reminds me of the immense labyrinths that artists like these two create.

It is Monteiro’s answer to the man who tells him that pigeons don’t eat liver.
The pigeons are an important presence in his work. They appear briefly in Recollections of the Yellow House, Conserva Acabada, The Last Dive, again in God’s Comedy and receiving the offer of Monteiro/Prometheus in Come and Go. Probably they might be associated to the tapestry opening Snow White too, the girl feeding the chicken. Violent provocation to the audience is permanent in Monteiro’s films. His way of confronting society takes that form. There is of course an old tradition of provocation to the reader/spectator, very intense and often violent since Dadaism.

In the end, Monteiro’s “NO” is the perfect synthesis of the conflict between the poet’s inner world and society.
Of their total incompatibility. Walser’s Snow White accepts, says YES to everything she is told to be able to live with her family – in society, after all. So the show could go on she had to say YES. She had to abdicate of her own world and her own truth. Monteiro says NO. And he says it to us straight in the face: “N-O!” This NO, one of the most radical moments of the cinema, is a “YES” to his Snow White, his inner world, definitely associated with death in the two final films.

Monteiro equated Snow White with Susana. And they lived happily ever after.

Pygmalion sculpting his bride. Stoichita remarked how some manuscripts of the Roman de la Rose play with the symbolism associated of the gisant. In this case, the hands of the statue cover the sex (or shall I say rosebud?), instead of resting over the breast, or other common solution. The hands are usually found in such way when the statue is naked (with incorrupt body or not). I find this detail most revealing.

The scene of the funeral?
The extraordinary scene of the funeral. The author as revenant. Monteiro coming from the dead to take possession of his wife’s body. It is a replication of the movement of Recollections of the Yellow House towards What Shall I Do With this Sword? Great authorities have pronounced the “death of the author” (in the sequence of other “deaths”, of course). After Warburg, many would argue that nothing really dies, but that things survive, survive to themselves, that they have an afterlife. A spectral, phantomatic life.

It is all about leaving our little mark, that primitive desire to project, to escape oneself.

Haunting the living...
Yes, in some sense. Here again there is obvious similarity with Malick. We find in the funeral something of the arrival of the telegram in The Tree of Life (or vice-versa). Both artists tell us by cyphered and perversely playful means: « cherchez Hortense! » They both know of our shock and try to include that future in their work: “wait and see.” What we see surrounding the coffin? Society, sullenly gathered around Monteiro’s creation. Its scandal before his delivery to his dead wife, his Snow White. Of this fetishism of the moving images there were insinuations a long time ago. For example, there is a 1979 short called The Two Soldiers that ends with a frontal shot (a kind of signature) of his double wearing a gas mask, obvious allusion to Les carabiniers. There is another allusion to this film in Hovering Over the Water when Monteiro lifts the girl’s skirt with the riffle. I think we have already talked around here about his protagonist’s vacations in Mexico... 

Scenes from two marriages.

As in Malick, this seems to go back to the beginning of the oeuvre.
At least to the second film. Already in 1969 Monteiro talks about filmmaking as a self-imposed destiny. Latter he tried to say that he did not liked cinema that much, that he would have preferred to be a writer, or to do absolutely nothing. That it was a post 1974 decision, etc. Don’t really believe it. This is, he could hate cinema, but just in the exact proportion he loved it. A romantic relation. After all, his total identification with the cinema – “I am the cinema. Creation is absolute and absolutely inconvenient.” – not only send us back to Louis XIV, but at least also to a certain English novel where someone says about his love: “I am Heathcliff.” Cinema as power – lonely, absolute, sovereign power – and passion, total empathy with the object of desire.
Wuthering Heights: Alejandro opening Catalina's coffin.

Such passions can produce destructive, evil consequences.
With Monteiro I think everybody knew he was not trustable. Buñuel and Pasolini are evoked to understand the male character of Hovering Over the Water, the man who came from the sea. We would definitely have to add Hitchcock. He reminds me especially of Hitchcock’s Cary Grant (Suspicion, most of all). You never know about him. His plans and reasons are totally obscure, totally in the dark. He carries all kind of secrets. A guy you can’t trust. He is obviously presented as another double of the director. It is curious that Monteiro would portrait himself in such a way.


The Green Room, marriage necrocinéphile: “The dead only belong to us if we agree to belong to them.” There is Hitchcock all over it: what a nice profile, no? (In the middle, Psycho.)

What the Nouvelle-vague would say of such sons? There seems to be a rather great distance from these works and their privileged source of inspirations.
Nouvelle-vague is a very “vague” term. It encompasses many different experiences. But probably we would agree that its protagonists searched something rather different of Monteiro’s mirror and Malick’s spiral. As you know, Monteiro wanted Jean Pierre Léaud to play the gelato’s critic in God’s Comedy, who is called Antoine Doinel. He wanted him as a kind of symbol of the Nouvelle-vague, so he would answer to your question: « c’est de la merde. » It is nothing but a provocation to the French fathers. Monteiro had excellent critical acceptance in France. It seems a way of telling: I am all alone with myself. It is funny, the new film by João Lucas also tells us « Je suis là pour vous dire non et pour mourir. » (“I am here to tell you no and to die.”, Adieu au language) Monteiro must be smiling.

Both artists seem to me rather (self-)condemned to be expelled from respectable cinephilia. In Monteiro, décadence d'un petit commerce de cinema where he had place no more. For Malick, just pretend that she is an allegory of the American film industry.

Maternal imagery is also very important and rich in both artists. Any significant analogy in this respect?
Not only maternal, but paternal. Monteiro’s relation with his real parents is omnipresent in his oeuvre. In Come and Go this is simply fascinating, although I never read any deep analysis of his cinema from this point of view. (Someone out there interested?) In Malick (The Tree of Life, To the Wonder) the question is vampirization, how a certain fictional project can swallow a biography. In this respect, the present impression is that they are different. But both directors (with many others) equated cinema with the maternal. Monteiro went to the point of saying that he learned all about the cinematographer in his mother’s womb. Afterwards it had been all about unlearning… It might be a good starting point to think Snow White. Nobody has yet understood well that “don’t forget that one day also you will be mother.” (God’s Comedy) This said, in Monteiro, Mother can also be motherland (a certain political-economic-religious realm) and with that one the relation is mainly of abjection, although there are ambiguous moments too.

The fugitive nature of John of God's encounter with his mother seems indebt to Pickpocket, as the interrogation in the police station. The dialogue with this picture starts in the second work. Its poster will appear in Vuvu's house in Come and Go

Monteiro playing Mother... «Moi en toi, Toi en moi» ? (To the Wonder; see John 14:10)

About this: if, according to you, Malick could say he was just one thing, an American, what about Monteiro? Could he say: I am, have been, and will be only one thing – a Portuguese?
Take notice of this: Monteiro links the genesis of He Goes Long Barefoot … to his return to Portugal, to his asshole country. But to this artist his works do not simply rebel against the surrounding cultural environment, they are not only a door to something else. There is probably a great deal of identification with those somehow abject creatures populating What Shall I Do With This Sword? Monteiro’s cinema is one with a fall into a kind of vicious mental state, an exhibitionist impotence inseparable of Portugal. Something like to be Portuguese to the limit of abjection. In this respect, the “eternal return” is one of the key concepts to consider his films. Recollections… is about returning, Come and Go is about returning. The theme of the circle is brilliantly explored by Monteiro.

Is there an author or a film as important to Monteiro as Hitchcock and Vertigo are to Malick?
Probably, no. And it is important to stress that in Monteiro literature has much more relevance. Writers are as fundamental to think his work as film directors: Céline, Joyce, Rimbaud, Sade, Dante, Camões, many others. He portrays himself as the dead Walser, for example. And there is Pessoa. Persona, persona non grata. With Pessoa the identification is very deep. The allusion to Campos mentioned in Wait and see is made in a scene filmed in a coffeehouse frequented by the poet. He loves these kind of secrets.

For the record: Monteiro played one of the convict exiles in Oliveira’s 1979 absolute masterpiece. «There is a secret that one can only know in the grave. Will we see each other? I am going away. I abominate the fatherland, I abominate my family. All this soil is to my eyes covered with gallows, and all those men who speak my language I believe I hear them shout the executioner’s imprecations. In Portugal, neither freedom with opulence, nor, by the way, the realization of the hopes your love gave me, Teresa! Forget me and fall asleep on the breast of nothingness. I want to die, but not here. Let the light of my eyes go out; but the light of the sky, I want it! I want to see the sky in my last glance.» (C.C. Branco, Doomed Love) Above, Snow White

Anything to conclude?
One thing. I often wondered in a label to Malick’s cinema. Could his work be satisfactorily defined in a simple expression or word? I am not in advertising, but I felt this need. Now I think I found a really good hypothesis, one with the necessary violence. I especially like its Biblical resonance. Monteiro said once he was not a cinéaste of abjection, but one of abomination. It can’t describe it better: Malick, the cinéaste of abomination.

So Malick is the cinéaste of abomination? Not Monteiro?
There are abominable things and Malick did them in such a way that we must grant him the title. Malgré tout, we can’t avoid some true sympathy for Monteiro. Towards his later work I fell somehow like that doctor in Max Ophüls’s Le Plaisir. The one who brings the masked man to his home. The dialogue with Personamask – makes me think about it. Also Le Plaisir seems not strange at all to the beginning of Recollections..., including to the appearance of the flute (important presence in this director’s films) in the soundtrack (have also in mind, of course). Monteiro’s appearance as an army officer is certainly a mask where many things concentrate, including autobiographical elements. Wait and see mentioned some of its references.

We could add Eça de Queirós, a writer with whom Monteiro shares a great deal, in order to think it. But whatever we see in his eccentric agitation, about what John of God covers there is not great discussion. His transformation in the barber shop somehow brings the memory of Death in Venice (a film this director despised, I believe) to Recollections. And this insinuated vulnerability distinguishes Monteiro and makes him sympathetic. Even if he does not search for our sympathy at all.

Le plaisir. The second episode is about “codfish” (morue), a matter of great importance in Monteiro. In Recollections... we hear the confessional “I want to smell your codfish!” God's Spousals was filmed in a palace jokingly called bacalhôa (female cod) after the nickname of one of the owners. A fact not to despise having in account a certain vision of John of God.