Pedro Costa's O Sangue:
"A very film film, a very cinema film" - Pedro Costa
By which I think he means: It is not realism, but rather a cinema version of reality. Which is to say, a romantic one.
I like the romanticism of this film, and the realistic elements of this film, and even the self-consciously Bresonian gestures (when they don't go too far). From here, Costa could have either have become a subtle but overtly romantic filmmaker, or some variation on the stricter realisms of his later work. Watching O Sangue, I felt a slight feeling of loss for the romantic road not traveled. I can see why he views these impulses as failures or distractions from the real task of (his) cinema; the film isn't entirely successful because it switches between these modes, detaching us from the experience of emotional continuity. Danny's thoughts were insightful - each scene, each shot seems disconnected from the others, independently beautiful in a way that detracts from the whole.
Casa de Lava is Costa's remake of I Walked with a Zombie (seriously!). The film's location was formerly a concentration camp in Cabo Verde for communists deported from Portugal. "It was a mini-Apocalypse Now for me," Costa said, but on set he learned to speak Cape Verdean Crioulo and established the relationships that led him to shoot his next films in Fontainhas.
Casa de Lava is carried by the same luminous actress who starred in O Sangue, Inês de Medeiros.
More notes forthcoming on Costa's later work, his relationship with Straub and Huillet, and Costa's thoughts on cinema.