‘O Fantasma’

A graphic, sexually explicit queer surrealism, director João Pedro Rodrigues (The Ornithologist, To Die Like a Man) explores nocturnal and sexual escapades as a young and handsome Sergio, a nightshift garbage collector, roams an almost deserted Lisbon.

With more than a passing nod to Kenneth Anger and Jean Genet, Rodrigues allows an extraodinary Sergio (Ricardo Meneses) to slowly slip into a psychosexual eroticism as he obsesses over the owner of a top-of-the-range motorbike. From leather and uniform fixation, zentai latex, casual sex in public places, O Fantasma is a relentless exploration of extreme aspects of male homosexual erotica. Sergio, with his sense of alienation from the immediacy of his public persona, is a figure full of desire, with a level of underlying rage and despair driving that desire.

It’s not always easy to watch as Sergio descends further into a hybrid predator/survivor. Yet, tension builds as the beautiful visual language of emptiness – both urban and metaphorical – propels the narrative into the unknown and unexpected.

Rating: 54%

‘Antonio One, Two, Three’

Three different narratives of a single story involving the same named characters. As Antonio, Mauro Suares (Sol Alegria, A Portuguesa) finds himself oscillating between a successful theatre star (#3) to scumbag friend to the lighting designer of the Lisbon fringe theatre (#1) in hiding from his father. Turns out that in spite of his university fees being paid, Antonio has been nowhere near a lecture theatre in almost a year. A star Brazilian theatre director (Daniel Pizamiglio – Arrabalde) in the first narrative is a struggling performance artist to Antonio’s success.

Award-winning short-filmmaker Leonardo Mouramateus, in his feature film debut, loosely reimagines Dostoevsky’s story White Nights. It’s much more playful telling than the average adaptation of the Russian novelist! But lightweight characterisation and storytelling results in a struggle to win over the audience.

Rating: 53%

‘The Ornithologist’

1200x630bbImpenetrable religious allegory and a true definition of ‘art house’ filmmaking, director João Pedro Rodrigues (Die Like a Man, Two Drifters) has produced one of those films loved by critics but which leaves most audiences baffled.

Solitary ornithologist Fernando (a hunky Paul Hamy – Suzanne, Moi roi) finds himself lost in a dense forest where various characters and temptations are presented. A series of unconnected vignettes – two female Chinese pilgrims, a young deaf and dumb goatherd, topless female hunters on horseback – may well have a deep meaning as, in getting lost, Fernando finds himself. But who cares?

Rating: 30%