Director Albert Serra in person for both screenings.
No one else working in movies today makes anything remotely like the Catalan maverick Albert Serra, a cerebral oddball and improbable master of cinematic antiquity. Known for his unconventional adaptations of Cervantes’s Don Quixote (Honor of the Knights) and the Biblical parable of the Three Kings (Birdsong), Serra here stages the 18th-century passage from rationalism to romanticism as a tussle between two figures of legend, Casanova and Dracula. Against a backdrop of candlelit conversation and earthy carnality, Serra sets in motion contrasting ideas about pleasure and desire, alternating between winding philosophical dialogue and wordless passages of savage beauty. Winner of the top prize at the 2013 Locarno Film Festival, the film is both a painterly feast for the eyes, abounding with art-historical allusions, and an idiosyncratic, self-aware revamping of the costume melodrama.