Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Just Like [Ghost Pepper] Zombie Crackheads Again

In Vanda's Room
2000. 170 minutes. Portugal. Directed by Pedro Costa. Watchdate: 4/13/2011
I had to stand up for a considerable portion of this movie's nearly three hour running time because it was physically taxing to watch and I had to resist what it was doing to me. Standing up against it seemed to be the only way. Costa follows up on a woman who starred as the sister in his last movie, Ossos. Her name is Vanda and she has convinced him to dispense with the phony scripting and story and instead just shoot a bunch of footage of crackhead zombies in their decrepit homes that are under assault from bulldozers serving the gentrification agenda of Lisbon in the 2000s. The noise from the bulldozers is fairly constant, just like the constant likelihood of Vanda or her friends to take a break from long conversations to smoke more crack.

These zombie bodies persist along doing what zombie bodies do (smoke crack, have conversations, look at the sun in weird glasses, smoke more crack) while the 'story' unfolds in the background (the 'story' is about the demolition of an old neighborhood). Costa resists the imposition of meaning on his zombie movies that are mostly focused on violence, disruption, disorder - the ruptures that attempt to pull his zombies out of their death marches.

PS - While I maintain a love-hate relationship with Pedro Costa's work, I would hazard to guess that most people I know would absolutely hate this movie. You've been warned.

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