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In Vanda’s Room – 2000 Costa
- There’s an interesting case to be made that In Vanda’s Room is a documentary. Much of Kiarostami’s work, including Close-Up, is similar. There’s actually a forward-moving narrative in Close-Up (though that isn’t the reason a film is or isn’t a documentary). Here the actors (including Vanda) are playing themselves, there’s no story, it is shot on location and we’re capturing hours of authentic conversations. The lighting, the coloring, and setting is “controlled” (or chosen) by Costa and that is far and away his greatest triumph
- No musical score, observational
- Sort of Dogma 95 (this is Costa’s first work on video– the photography is almost defiantly unpretty) meets Harmony Korine’s Gummo. There’s trash everywhere, drug use is a constant, talk of babies in dumpsters, we probably spend 20 minutes watching/listening to Vanda cough (and in one case at least, vomit)
- A dark film, shot in these damp alleys, feels like it almost set in a shelter underground. The few scenes where we get daylight – your eyes almost have to adjust- one of the many ways Costa uses duration as a tool here- this is 170 minutes.
- The second film in his Fontainhas trilogy (Ossos in 1997, Colossal Youth in 2006). Set in a sort of hell on earth slum in Lisbon
- bleakness in visual approach and material—certainly matching
- the lighting makes Gordon Willis and Fincher look bright
- squalor and rubble— spiritually connected to Rossellini’s war trilogy —certainly Costa is most interested in setting—but there is no attempt really to make this beautiful here.
- By far the greatest aspect of the film is the almost hypnotic glow of the spotlight lighting surrounded by blackness. It has a green tint—consistent with Ossos (as much of it is—this is auteur cinema) along with actual green (beyond just the green tinting) peppered throughout the mise-en-scene. It is a purposeful color design.
- Recommend but not close to the top 10 of 2000