By the time you read this I will be in Portugal, and so it seemed appropriate that I should take a moment to talk about Portugal's greatest cinematic export, film director Manoel de Oliveira. Oliveira holds a curious record: he's the oldest living film director, and the only living film director to have worked in the silent era. His first film, Working on the Douro River, was an 18-minute documentary made in 1931. Hollywood had converted to sound by then, but many other countries were still silent. (Reportedly, he worked as an extra in a film as early as 1928.)

Currently, Oliveira is 97 years old and has a new movie out, Belle Toujours (additionally, he has finished one other and is in production on two more). I haven't seen Belle Toujours yet; it opened in June in New York and appeared like a blip on the box office chart. It's a sequel of sorts to Luis Bunuel's 1967 masterpiece Belle de Jour, with Michel Piccoli reprising his role as Henri Husson, who once helped sexually awaken the married, bored Severine (Catherine Denueve), turning her on to a life of daytime sexual depravity and mild sadomasochism. Years later, Severine (now played by Bulle Ogier, from Bunuel's The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie) meets Henri once again and the two come to terms with their bizarre past.

categories Columns, Cinematical