The Strange Case of Angelica
Manoel de Oliveira
With The Strange Case of Angelica, he reiterates his exaggerative, theatrical style with trademark stationary camerawork while detailing the socially counterintuitive instincts of young Jewish photographer, Mr. Isaac (Ricardo Trêpa), after he witnesses the seeming emergence of an Angel photographing the recently deceased, Catholic, Angelica (Pilar López de Ayala). Having seen the dead beauty come to life through the lens of his camera unbeknownst to those around him, he becomes obsessed with her very essence and symbolic meaning—something juxtaposed with the extended image of a cat staring at a bird in a cage.
Despite the seemingly incendiary contrast of Judaism and Christianity, the imagery, save the usage of a crucifix as symbol of the undiscerning nature of the bourgeoisie, treads on common ground, occupied most with Angelic presence and its relation to the Cosmos. When not photographing vineyard manual labourers—whom his landlady is quick to point out serve no purpose anymore in an era of machine efficiency—he is routinely examining his photographs and fantasizing about, or potentially experiencing, otherworldly visits from Angelica.
His socially contrary disposition of interpreting spiritual presence and outdated modes of survival inevitably makes him an outcast among the locals who, when not discussing his peculiarity, talk about the nature of the global economy and broad Scientific concepts, much to his indifference. In asserting the superficial commonalities amidst Abrahamic religions, as contrasted with Isaac's self-involvement and casual annoyance with a local begger, de Oliveira is setting up inherent hypocrisies and the inherent incongruities that create social, and personal, divides.
This overriding perspective is smartly demonstrated through the eyes of fantasy, which, as it turns out, is ultimately the only mode of escape from the imposed limits, or cage, of those unable to perform, or adhere to, the status quo. And interestingly enough, with de Oliveira's overly theatrical mise-en-scene and deliberately mechanical, sometimes abrasively melodramatic, performances, his filmmaking similarly demonstrates a gauche juxtaposition to the status quo, making his works easy to dismiss or reduce to spectacle of casual farce.
The Strange Case of Angelica screens on Saturday, November 17th at 6pm at the Royal. (Cinema Guild)
ReviewsOct 29, 2014
The BabadookJennifer Kent
At every Toronto After Dark Fest, there's at least one film that rides a wave of palpable buzz and has attendees clamouring to see it. Last ...
ReviewsOct 24, 2014
Films about time travel are some of the trickiest ones to create as far as sci-fi subgenres are concerned — it's not so much about the...
ReviewsOct 23, 2014
Why Horror?Nicolas Kleiman, Rob Lindsay
As a nerd, it's always pretty weird seeing your favourite genre rise to the surface of mainstream culture, and horror is no exception. In hi...
ReviewsOct 22, 2014
Time LapseBradley King
You don't fuck with time. That's the philosophical takeaway - an idea espoused time and time again by one of the lead characters - in Bradle...
ReviewsOct 21, 2014
John Geddes' Hellmouth is a kaleidoscopic vision of hell that tantalizes with some bewitching visuals but ultimately comes off more as funho...
ReviewsOct 20, 2014
Kumiko, The Treasure HunterDavid Zellner
In 2001, a woman named Takako Konishi was found dead in a remote area of Minnesota. Botched eyewitness information swirled into an urban leg...
ReviewsOct 19, 2014
Man, I really wanted to like Zombeavers. Based on the trailer, which currently boasts over three million hits on YouTube, the film seemed li...
ReviewsOct 18, 2014
ABCs of Death 2Various Directors
When producers Ant Timpson and Tim League announced that they'd be producing a followup to 2012's highly ambitious anthology film The ABCs o...