Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 302: Thu Oct 30

Warsaw Bridge (Portabella, 1989): ICA Cinema, 8.50pm


Here is the ICA introduction:
Catalan director Pere Portabella’s ground-breaking masterpiece Warsaw Bridge (Pont de Varsòvia) is an artistic and political essay on the Europe of the late 80s, with its vacuities and an amnesiac political class. It is a beautiful avant-garde film and it was praised by the director of Silence of the Lambs, Jonathan Demme, when he said:

'I was lucky enough to first see Warsaw Bridge at the Contemporary Arts Museum in Barcelona in the summer of 2000 as part of a “hometown boy makes good” retrospective the museum was presenting of Portabella’s work. I was literally freaked and said, “Who? Pere Portabella? Used to produce Bunuel films? Why haven’t I ever even heard of this guy? How could a rich and dazzling and sumptuous film such as this remain so utterly unknown in my country? The exquisite images, the superbly rendered music, the bravura style, this bold narrative, the great performances, the perfection of the totality of this unique and vibrant wonderland of a film — How to get it seen in America?'


New York Times review:
“You’re stifled by rather precarious aesthetics,” one character says to another in Pere Portabella’s “Warsaw Bridge,” a film from 1990. Aren’t we all? For his part Mr. Portabella seems pretty comfortable with his aesthetic of narrative enigma, elegant camerawork and attractive people who speak in literary and intellectual riddles. A Catalan filmmaker whose recent work includes “The Silence Before Bach,” Mr. Portabella was for many years associated with Luis Buñuel. “Warsaw Bridge,” which takes place mostly in Barcelona (with a few scenes in Berlin), is not shy about declaring a debt to Buñuelian surrealism. This is especially true in several exquisite musical interludes, including one in which the members of an orchestra, housed in separate apartments, follow their conductor’s gestures on video monitors, and another set in a seragliolike bathhouse. Connecting these images is an elusive story, or rather a series of events and conversations organized around a central anecdote.
A. O. Scott

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