Mountain Patrol


China / 2004 / Tibetan & Mandarin

Directed by Lu Chuan

With Zhang Lei, Tobgyal, Qi Liang

Still from 'Mountain Patrol'In the funerary rites of Tibetan Buddhism, a dead body is dismembered and left on a flat rock, out in the open, to be picked clean by vultures. After that, the bones are ground up with tsampa (barley flour), mixed with yak butter tea, and fed to the lesser birds that follow. These “sky burials” were practiced for generations as an alternative to cremation, since firewood is so scarce in much of Tibet. Although sky burials have been declining in recent years (partly due to a decrease in the population of birds of prey in many areas), they’re still widely used, and are one example of the Tibetans’ intimate and ritualistic connection to their environment. Read the rest of this entry »


Doomed Love


Portugal / 1978 / Portuguese

Directed by Manoel de Oliveira

With António Sequeira Lopes, Cristina Hauser, Elsa Wallencamp

Still from 'Doomed Love'While the story of Manoel de Oliveira’s Doomed Love, a nearly five-hour adaptation of Camilo Castelo Branco’s 1862 novel, could have been pulled off in a feature film (and has, many a time), it finds an extended depiction drawn out over the course of a television mini-series. Explaining its few theatrical engagements, it is a difficult proposal for a single sitting, a bit like reading the book in one go. Nonetheless it’s apparently a faithful rendering, scene for scene, of the book, and goes directly to the text. The characters’ lengthy soliloquies come from its pages, at times they address the audience as a narrator would a reader, and their beautifully-penned letters appear on the screen and are read off in full. Read the rest of this entry »