What Now? Remind Me

2013 Locarno Film Festival jury prize winner What Now? Remind Me will screen at the Film Society exclusively for one week in August. Directed by Portuguese filmmaker Joaquim Pinto, the feature will screen in conjunction with the first U.S. retrospective of Pinto's work, titled “A Life Less Ordinary: The Films of Joaquim Pinto.”

A sound recordist and designer turned producer and director, Joaquim Pinto has collaborated with notable filmmakers of the past few decades including Raúl Ruiz, Manoel de Oliveira, and João César Monteiro. His own films, unseen for years even in Portugal, are major achievements in their own right—a Portuguese critic recently described him as, “the heart of Portuguese cinema for most of the last 30 years.”

Pinto made What Now? Remind Me while he endured an experimental clinical trial for HIV patients. Although the film doesn’t flinch at describing the pain and despair of chronic illness, it remains above all a testament to the joys of a fully lived life, and to the inseparability of art and life. Darting between vivid scenes of the present and bittersweet recollections of the past, What Now? reveals Pinto’s day-to-day existence with his beloved husband, Nuno, and reaches back to his artistic coming-of-age, capturing a love of cinema that led to a wide network of friendships and collaborations. Confessional but never solipsistic, looking beyond individual experience toward history and the world, this moving film becomes an all-encompassing meditation on what it means to be alive. What Now? Remind Me opens at the Film Society August 8.

“A Life Less Ordinary: The Films of Joaquim Pinto” (August 8-12) includes nine of Pinto's films and collaborations.

Richard Brody of The New Yorker observed of the film: “The camera desperately embraces faces, landscapes, flowers, and even more ordinary things as if in a farewell gaze; a dirty windshield seems as much of a wonder as the lush fields that it frames. The mind itself is Pinto’s subject; double exposures and other effects evoke fantasy and derangement, and classical music on the soundtrack seems to surge forth spontaneously from the depths of his unconscious.”

A Life Less Ordinary: The Films of Joaquim Pinto films and descriptions follow:

The Cannibals / Os Canibais
Manoel de Oliveira, Portugal, 1988, 35mm, 99m
Portuguese with English subtitles

A sui generis marriage of opera and cannibalism, this film (on which Pinto worked in the sound department) sets out to turn opera on its head, just as Oliveira had done with theater in earlier films like 1986’s My Case (which Pinto also did the sound for). When high-society Marguerite marries an aristocratic viscount despite the protestations of her plot-hatching ex-lover, Don Juan, mounting tensions boil over in truly bizarre fashion as Marguerite’s new husband reveals an unbelievable secret. A work that initially presents a veneer of stately respectability before racing off in strange and hilarious directions, The Cannibals is among Oliveira's most underrated and entertaining films.
August 11, 7:00pm

The New Testament of Jesus Christ According to John / O Novo Testamento De Jesus Cristo Segundo João
Joaquim Pinto & Nuno Leonel, Portugal, 2013, DCP, 128m
Portuguese with English subtitles

One of Portugal’s most prominent and recognizable performers, Luís Miguel Cintra (a frequent player in the films of Manoel de Oliveira) reads the Gospel of John as images of natural splendor fill the screen. Providing no context outside of the gospel itself and letting the gravel and rhythm of Cintra’s voice take center stage, Pinto and Leonel find a soulful and familiar yet mysterious juxtaposition of words and images. In their directors’ statement, Pinto and Leonel write: “We are not theologians, nor do we belong to any religion, but just like everyone else, from those who call themselves Christians to those who declare themselves to be atheists and ‘free thinkers,’ we are all irrevocably steeped in twenty centuries of clericalism and Christian culture.”
August 9, 12:30pm

The New Testament of Jesus Christ According to John

Rabo de Peixe
Joaquim Pinto & Nuno Leonel, Portugal, 2003, digital projection, 77m
Portuguese with English subtitles

Decisive shifts in the oceans have caused significant problems in the eponymous village in the Azorean archipelago, where fishing has long been a tradition and an essential livelihood. Pedro is a young man confronted with the problem of how to carry on despite this crisis (and the inherent dangers of working at sea). Pinto and Leonel follow Pedro over the full, yearlong cycle of seasons, capturing the rhythms of life and work in a changing community.

Screening with:
Sol Menor
Joaquim Pinto & Nuno Leonel, Portugal, 2007, digital projection, 7m
Portuguese with English subtitles.

This contemplative piece, an exploration of time’s passage and the permanence of nature, sets Beethoven’s “Sonata em sol menor” against images of farmers tilling the soil and flowers carried along by a brook.
August 8, 5:00pm
August 10, 8:00pm

Recollections of the Yellow House / Recordações da Casa Amarela
João César Monteiro, Portugal, 1989, 35mm, 122m
Portuguese with English subtitles

Pinto served as a producer on the late Monteiro’s masterpiece, a landmark of Portuguese cinema. This singularly morbid and perverse comedy chronicles the misadventures of João de Deus (played by Monteiro himself), a grizzled, depressive bachelor who lives in a seedy boarding house run by a tyrannical landlady. Equal parts Chaplin’s Little Tramp and Dostoevsky’s Underground Man, João battles possibly imaginary bedbugs and indulges his erotic fetishes while ruminating on illness and the prospect of death. Amid the deadpan hijinks and bleakly absurdist perspective, the director’s musical way with sound and image is evident everywhere.
August 10, 5:30pm

Tall Stories / Uma Pedra no Bolso
Joaquim Pinto, Portugal, 1988, 35mm, 91m
Portuguese with English subtitles

Virtually unseeable for the last 25 years due to rights issues, Pinto’s beautiful feature-length debut is a coming-of-age tale about unconventional friendships and burgeoning sexuality. As punishment for his lack of interest at school, 12-year-old Miguel is forced to spend his summer vacation at his aunt Martha’s modest seaside boarding house. Upset at first by the prospect of staying in a place where nothing ever happens, the young boy befriends Luisa, a waitress who teaches him to dance, and João, a local fisherman. But the arrival of another guest, the mysterious Dr. Fernando, initiates a series of events that will disrupt the hotel’s equilibrium and Miguel’s peace of mind.
August 8, 7:00pm
August 10, 3:30pm

Where the Sun Beats

The Territory
Raúl Ruiz, Portugal, 1981, 16mm, 100m
English and French with English subtitles

Pinto’s first sound-recording job and perhaps the only Raúl Ruiz film that could be described as containing a story “ripped from the headlines,” this philosophical horror flick (co-written by Gilbert Adair) tracks the descent of two American families into cannibalism during a camping trip in the south of France. Celebrated upon its release for the strangeness of its theological vision (reminiscent of that of former Ruiz collaborator Pierre Klossowski), The Territory explores the body as a site of desire and violence with Ruiz’s signature touch, yielding a slippery work that is mortifying, mystifying, and surprisingly funny.
August 12, 7:00pm

Twin Flames / Das Tripas Coraçao
Joaquim Pinto, Portugal, 1992, 35mm, 70m
Portuguese with English subtitles

Redheaded twins Armando and Beatriz always dreamed of being firefighters but during a rainy, uneventful winter they find themselves spending less time putting out infernos than they do helping neighbors who’ve locked themselves out of their apartments. This is how Armando meets a pretty young woman with whom he begins a tentative courtship. But soon a rift grows between the siblings and, spurred by Armando’s exaggerated stories about his nascent relationship, Beatriz begins experiencing aural hallucinations that can only be remedied through music and, finally, the love of a stranger. Pinto made this impassioned fairy tale as part of a series of films about the four elements.
August 9, 5:00pm

Where the Sun Beats / Onde Bate o Sol
Joaquim Pinto, Portugal, 1989, 35mm, 88m
Portuguese with English subtitles

Pinto’s sophomore feature patiently investigates the everyday life and psychosexual vacillations of Laura (Laura Morante), a woman caught in a web of verboten romance and incestuous desire. Pinto elliptically and delicately portrays the small farming community that serves as the backdrop for the impossible relationships pursued by Laura and her brother, Nuno. The alluring cast also features Inês de Medeiros (of Jacques Rivette’s The Gang of Four and several films by Pedro Costa) as Graça, a key player in the film’s game of libidinal cat-and-mouse. A strongly atmospheric work in which torrid intrigues emerge through allusion and insinuation, Where the Sun Beats finds Pinto exploring the self-thwarting ways of desire and the expressive potential of the unspoken.
August 9, 3:00pm