Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Veredas: Bedouin

For these two thesps, the play is the thing—or rather the experimental film. They will play a pair of lovers in a variety of situations and contexts, but they will never have the time and conditions necessary to develop any sort of relationship arc. Playfulness and intentional artificiality trump narrative and character in Julio Bressane’s Bedouin, which screens tomorrow during the film series, Veredas: A Generation of Brazilian Filmmakers.

“Bedouin” is maybe a bit older than “Surm,” but more problematically, he often projects an air of potential violence (that does indeed manifest itself from time to time). Nonetheless, the actors keep coming together to play problematic courtship scenes. Of course, we can plainly gather they are thespians from the behind-the-scenes prologue.

Bressane certainly has the experimental filmmaker’s contempt for convention, but he still clearly has a love of cinema. During various sequences, he evokes the look and vibe of Golden Age Hollywood, film noir, and the Nouvelle Vague, with the collaboration of cinematographers Pablo Baiao and Pepe Schettino. Admittedly, his visuals compositions are often could interesting to eyeball, which is fortunate, because they are largely the whole point of the film.

Instead of traditional acting, Alessandra Negrini and Fernando Eiras are more like malleable clay dolls for Bressane to mold and place in position as he sees fit. However, it must be conceded Negri can be remarkably expressive through the use of mere body language. With her chops, she could have worked steadily during the old-time silent movie era.

Clearly, Bedouin is not for everyone, but viewers should be forewarned Bressane also includes some suggestively suggestive imagery that might trouble or offend some viewers. Let’s just say, it is hard to imagine anyone using the terminology of sex-positive feminism to describe them and leave it at that.

Probably the most interesting scene involves Surm regaling Bedouin with the tall tale of a serial killer known simply as “The Strangler of Blonds.” Why, you could almost make a film about him. Negrini and Eiras bend over backwards following Bressane’s directions. Nevertheless, the appeal for this film will be solely limited to patrons of experimental and absurdist cinema, such as late career Godard. For those who already know full well who they are, Bedouin screens tomorrow (12/11), as part of Veredas.