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PostPosted: Tue Jan 05, 2010 3:59 pm 
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That's a very good point about dv to 35mm vs HD. I know the jackman theater in Toronto where tiff is holding the Costa screenings and it has one of the best quality HD projectors I've seen - much better than the Walter Reade and the IFC center here in town. For me the draw of seeing the Costa trilogy on 35mm is that I get the feeling there is something deeply sensual and organic in his images (and alot of painting with shadows). I would much rather see Jia Zhangke's films in HD to fully appreciate their hyper-realness but, my impression at least, is that Costa's images are a beautiful anomaly, best seen on 35mm. So I'll have to see if tiff is screening 35mm/Hd or Dv. Something tells me it just has to be 35mm so Pedro will be happy.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 2:31 pm 

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Just looking at the seemingly infinite number of features that this box set contains (and I just looked at the website, and while they probably didn't, there are so many feature, it seems like they've added more) and the fact that these movies basically seem made in the exact style I like (ultra slow-paced), this seems like it will be my pick for the best box set, and probably DVD release of the year. It is going to be a long wait.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 9:34 am 

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evillights wrote:
Before these films you'll have never seen images of this magnitude of power and beauty... If Costa had only made one shot in his career his place would be secure for the ages... he is much, much greater than practically everyone else... each film by Costa is truly as great and extraordinary an object as, say, a then-contemporary Antonioni work in the '60s or '70s

Talk about hyperbole...


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 9:57 am 
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Nothing wrote:
Talk about hyperbole...
Talk about nothing! [-(


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 7:34 pm 
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Ossos

And I thought you guys would like to know the other films in the set, in 1.33:1, are NOT window boxed.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 27, 2010 9:07 pm 

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Well I finished Vanda's Room, and I re-watched Colossal Youth (making it the 3rd time...) I can't comment on Vanda's Room, like Ossos it still needs to percolate as I realized Costa's films would fall more under those types which aren't really so 'reactionary', in that its not something you can write or begin to talk about just like that after the screening (though you can) but it just lingers on at you. The images are stuck to your head and like the film you just have to take your time slowly making sense of things. I can comment on Colossal Youth because I've only started to make sense of the film a bit after so long and so many repeated viewings...

First, I keep hearing the comparisons with Bresson (which would apply more for Ossos than the subsequent films) but I would like to say he's more comparable to Avant-Garde film maker Margaret Tait. Their films are neither documentary nor fiction, in fact when one faces their films it would be better to just abolish that distinction altogether. They both allow their camera to observe or chronicle life and from there they just seem to try and 'sculpt' or 'shape' what they've seen and heard (Tait being more concerned with seeing and Costa with more on sounds). I think frustration can stem from such a style, and I was frustrated before, if one tries to make a coherent narrative or rather a 'plot' to make sense of things.

Second, with Colossal Youth I never realized before just how unstructured the narrative was. I didn't realize just how from one meeting to another that there was absolutely no linear time line or geography being followed. For instance one would not clearly be able to tell when Ventura spent time with Vanda and spent time with Lento, the shifts of scene don't follow any linearity. In fact the arrangement of events would follow how I thought about Ventura, which is that it doesn't seem as if he knows where he is going in particular or has a solid grasp of whats happening. That part of the way he lived was how difficult it was to distinguish whats in your mind to whats happening in reality, like the hallucinations he and his daughter had after taking drugs(?) as they described these things that don't exist outside their mind. In the same way it becomes difficult to make sense of 'where' Ventura really is with his wanderings and thoughts. Vanda's room would be more 'structured' than Colossal Youth as you have a sort of marker with the demolitions. Thats about the thoughts I have with the films so far... I've yet to delve into the extras, which I hope will help in understanding things a bit more. But repeated viewings are definitely needed for these films.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2010 4:35 pm 
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Box Set review


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2010 4:39 pm 
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Strange that the Beaver hasn't touched this one yet. Another of their "stands"?


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2010 8:26 pm 
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Talk about difficult watching...

I'm not slamming these movies by any means. I've actually enjoyed Ossos...but that was only after watching it twice. But Vanda's Room and Colossal Youth are very, very different movies and have their own set of problematics.

As a whole, I think these movies require some familiarity with their context, especially with the second and third installments. From what I've seen so far of Vanda's Room and Colossal Youth (I have not had the opportunity to dedicate a long stretch of time to any one of these yet...not to mention that I've invariably fallen asleep for reasons I'll mention later), it doesn't appear there is anything that gives a clue to the viewer of who the characters are, where they are, why their community is being razed (or even that it is being razed in the first place). So far, they appear to be interminably long static scenes with little going on (literally).

I'm certainly not one who demands narrative in a movie, coherent or otherwise. But the long dark, often times silent scenes with little to connect one scene to another makes for demanding viewing. So far I find little to keep my mind active enough to stay awake.

I haven't given up on these because I found Ossos to be quite interesting. Perhaps it's because it was styled more as a movie then the latter two. Regardless, its fairly accessible even without any context and there's mystery enough with the characters and their potential motivations that make Ossos compelling to watch. And as others have mentioned, the filming is indeed beautiful here (while at first glance the cinematography in Vanda's Room and Colossal Youth only seem to magnify the ugliness of the slum and make for some ugly viewing....although the scene very, very early in Vanda's Room with the steam uncurling off the body of the bathing man is very impressive).

So, it's taking a lot of work for me to enjoy this set so far. But I haven't given up.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2010 9:20 pm 
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How would the viewing experience compare to say Good Bye, Dragon Inn or Gerry. I would like to rent these but neither library has stocked them yet.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 08, 2010 2:07 am 
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domino harvey wrote:
Strange that the Beaver hasn't touched this one yet. Another of their "stands"?


They're too busy reviewing DVDs released in 2003. Alucarda


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 08, 2010 5:46 am 
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Tribe wrote:
So, it's taking a lot of work for me to enjoy this set so far. But I haven't given up.

Yes, Costa's films are "difficult". But, you know, they're about nothing but "who these characters are", "where they are", etc. - movies hardly ever give you this much! If you do need additional context as to what's what and who's who, then I'd suggest a). watch the interviews / read the booklet in the set, then some of the masses of material on PC (and Fontainhas) online and in print. And keep watching over and over (while you're awake ;-)).


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 7:47 pm 
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There was a 20 minute stretch during the back half of Vanda's 2nd hour where night fell and suddenly I was some place else. Then day came and I was back where I was before: watching people go about their lives. I can't quite explain it, and I haven't gone back to re-watch it, but that feeling of being transported through the looking glass (something like that anyway) made the entire film for me.

knives wrote:
How would the viewing experience compare to say Good Bye, Dragon Inn or Gerry. I would like to rent these but neither library has stocked them yet.
Gerry was "easier" to sit and stay with, probably because I vaguely knew that something was going to happen at the end. Plus all the walking makes it seem like more happens compared to Dragon Inn or Vanda (Colossal Youth may be different; I haven't had a chance to watch it yet). But each are rewarding in their own ways.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 10:18 pm 
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I never really thought of the walking as a way of making the frame more exciting and active. Interesting thought, love to see you expand more on that. You would say though that the experience is akin to Dragon Inn, right?


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 10:29 pm 
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knives wrote:
I never really thought of the walking as a way of making the frame more exciting and active. Interesting thought, love to see you expand more on that. You would say though that the experience is akin to Dragon Inn, right?

Only in the way that Hawks is like Sirk.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 11:47 pm 
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foggy eyes wrote:
knives wrote:
I never really thought of the walking as a way of making the frame more exciting and active. Interesting thought, love to see you expand more on that. You would say though that the experience is akin to Dragon Inn, right?

Only in the way that Hawks is like Sirk.
Or watching people as they occupy a central space (rooms/theater) and the surrounding area (corridors/alleys). Other than that, they're completely different experiences.

As for the walking, it's just that when you're faced with a couple of people walking versus a couple sitting in a room, it's easier to get drawn into or participate with the pedestrians. The questions come easier, or rather, come pre-packaged. "Where are they going?" "Have they been here before?" "How long have they been walking?" "What's going to happen when they get to where they're going?" The walking automatically gives the feeling that there's a narrative at work. That something else is going to happen besides what you're already seeing ("they can't just walk and not get anywhere"). Since that doesn't happen with the people sitting in a room, it's easier for your mind/attention to wander.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2010 5:37 pm 
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This finally got here last week, but I've only managed to sit through Ossos and a few special features. Having previously seen In Vanda's Room (courtesy of the gorgeous Capricci dvd), and considering it one the finest films I've seen, it was interesting to go, in a sense, back in time with Ossos. Despite the nature of the film's production history (large crew, bright lights, annoying impositions, etc.) the film still manages to capture something that exists between a kind of shadowy, elliptical melodrama, a documentary and an experimental piece of portraiture.

The thing that struck me most about Ossos was its beautiful sense of architecture. It never gives you a sense of geographic totality (and neither does Vanda, for that matter), but proposes a gallery of places through which the characters come and go: I'm thinking of those recurring shots of alleys and house entrances through which we see either Clothilde or Tina walking through at varying points in the film. And the soundman, Henri Maikoff, must be applauded here for creating one of the most INCREDIBLE soundscapes I've heard on film. Fontainhas, in many ways, is re-created through the sound work more than through the images: there are dozens of stories to be heard in the distant conversations, in the muffled music we hear next door. At points, it sounds like the soundtrack to "Casa de Lava" is simply playing across the street.

That being said, you can definitely see Costa "missing things", as he says, in his attempt to weave a story which he himself has written, alongside the people and rhythms of Fontainhas. The result is a narrative that feels, on one hand, ambitious, but on other deeply forced. Narrative, in something like Tarrafal (and I'm sure Colossal Youth as well, from what I've seen so far), seems antithetical to the way it's presented in Ossos: Tarrafal shapes personal histories (as told by Fontainhas residents themselves), then concentrates them into something that's nearly mythical. Ossos feels like it wants to go to this other place, where "storytelling" is re-imagined and re-constructed, but it's bogged down by traditional constraints. But so many others have written about this more eloquently than myself, so I'll stop here.

Can't wait to see Colossal Youth this weekend. The first twenty minutes almost work as a trance film.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2010 6:05 pm 

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Guido wrote:
That being said, you can definitely see Costa "missing things", as he says, in his attempt to weave a story which he himself has written, alongside the people and rhythms of Fontainhas. The result is a narrative that feels, on one hand, ambitious, but on other deeply forced. Narrative, in something like Tarrafal (and I'm sure Colossal Youth as well, from what I've seen so far), seems antithetical to the way it's presented in Ossos: Tarrafal shapes personal histories (as told by Fontainhas residents themselves), then concentrates them into something that's nearly mythical. Ossos feels like it wants to go to this other place, where "storytelling" is re-imagined and re-constructed, but it's bogged down by traditional constraints. But so many others have written about this more eloquently than myself, so I'll stop here.


I think you said it rather nicely especially with the idea of shaping personal histories into something akin to a myth. Or treats those personal histories as if they were important relics or snippets of history as he preserves and exhbits them in Colossal Youth. After listening to the Cyril commentary on the supplement disc I think their comments on the museum scene could go much further than simply saying that the way Costa treats Fontainhas and the inhabitants in the film as finding art in them, elevating them to the same level as the paintings. I think Colossal Youth in retrospect could be called a museum, as it preserves and showcases the personal histories of Fontainhas and the 'relics' of what remains (the inhabitants). With Ventura acting as your tour guide to the 'history' of Fontainhas (the trilogy has been often said to be a chronicle of the place).

Colossal Youth contains relics or rather replications of things that you don't necessarily see anymore in todays time, yet the film is not necessarily entirely a documentary. The fim is filled with the remnants of Fontainhas, the inhabitants and their memories - all of which are treated with such care.

Yet, the stories, sounds, and people all seem somewhat unreal in the film (such as the encounter with Nhurro whom we thought to be dead or Lento) they appear present at that time and place but once you step out or rather when the film ends they're definitely 'gone'. Or in a sense the animals they see on the walls, which have been brought to extinction in the newly constructed white apartments. Which I feel is part in due to time is somewhat lost in the film as what appears to be the past is mixed in with the present, and with that one shot of the child in the end I think you kind of get a glimpse of the future as well (its my favorite shot throughout the film). The other part being due to Ventura, as he is consists of being both a guide and a document or source of 'history', as we wander around his memories about his experiences. What I found to be interesting as well with the structure of Colossal Youth considering how non-linear it was did remind me a museum even more, as it becomes a hodgepodge of what sites or exhibits you'd like to visit first with no particular order (Ventura certainly leaves you that much freedom despite being the 'guide' instead answers questions or gives the history of so and so).


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2010 11:50 pm 
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Guido wrote:
The thing that struck me most about Ossos was its beautiful sense of architecture. It never gives you a sense of geographic totality

Through all the films the area felt like this cramped space that was a world unto itself with no way out. We get all these endless shots of small rooms and endless corridors that almost seem to circle into one another. You never get out of it, not even during the bus rides to and from there in Ossos, or sequences where the buildings are being torn down in Vanda.

Seeing the place from a distance in the special features and getting a better idea of the area around was actually surreal, like I could finally distance myself from it, after spending hours looking at it through Costa's eyes.

These films really do stick with you, though. I may have to give Vanda another go, it was almost infuriating at times to watch. But I realize now a lot of it has really hit a chord with me. I can't seem to stop thinking about it, or any of the films really. They're really striking portraits of the people and the area.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 19, 2010 10:56 am 
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A technical question/nitpick - watching the photo galleries on the Ossos and Vanda discs, my player switches from 16x9 to 4x3 and the photos appear squished (too tall and thin). Anyone else notice this?


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 19, 2010 12:48 pm 
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I sat down with Colossal Youth this weekend, after a four-year wait (!), and I can safely say that it has exceeded my expectations - I am in awe. In order to avoid any kind of superficial gushing (which would be so easy with a film like this), I'll cut straight to the chase and offer a few comments. I'll surely come back to add to the discussion after I've let the film sit for a few days.

Hangman, I find you comments to be very well developed, and they reflect many of the same impressions I have, both on the chronology of the film's events and its approach to storytelling.
Quote:
After listening to the Cyril commentary on the supplement disc I think their comments on the museum scene could go much further than simply saying that the way Costa treats Fontainhas and the inhabitants in the film as finding art in them, elevating them to the same level as the paintings. I think Colossal Youth in retrospect could be called a museum, as it preserves and showcases the personal histories of Fontainhas and the 'relics' of what remains (the inhabitants)

True, but though they could have developed the ideas they posit in the museum scene further, as you mention, I find that they develop them beautifully in their passage on the "Houses of the Dead" sequence. Neyrat's comment on Ventura's foot "animating" a version of the fantastic images they speak of (and "see") on the adjacent walls of Bete's room is great; the shadow constitutes a most rudimentary form of
"projection", but it harbors, in a way, the nature of the storytelling approach in the film as a whole. And also, the shadow of Ventura's foot, like the "still life" of the shack that precedes the museum sequence, is a great of example of what you're referring to when you define Colossal Youth as a kind of museum.

Quote:
What I found to be interesting as well with the structure of Colossal Youth considering how non-linear it was did remind me a museum even more, as it becomes a hodgepodge of what sites or exhibits you'd like to visit first with no particular order (Ventura certainly leaves you that much freedom despite being the 'guide' instead answers questions or gives the history of so and so)

The effect is (to me, at least) that the film articulates a structure, but doesn't force you to adhere to it as a viewer. Like Mark Peranson has mentioned in a few articles (I think), the experience of Colossal Youth is as much a matter of mentally re-constructing it yourself, which I think works wonderfully with the way that the "imposed" structure approaches history, storytelling and narrative. What I'm in awe of is the film's ability to capture the weight of exile, of revolution, of community, in what Neyrat refers to as a series of "modulations" (of the most basic order): we're always coming back to the same locations, the same shots, the same times, and there's definitely something that accumulates in the process. And in some cases, the political and historical weight of what's at play is condensed into a single image, a single gesture, as in the moment with Ventura, Lento and the record player, or in the later scene at the hospital.

There's just so much ambition here (on political, aesthetic and ethical levels), and I feel like I've only scratched the surface. I'll be writing more when I've gathered my thoughts in a more comprehensive way...


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 19, 2010 3:46 pm 
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I think I had a similar reaction to Chris. While I've wanted to see Colossal Youth for years, I was a bit leery of Costa in general given the tone of a lot of the praise thrown his way, which I've found at times to be somewhat condescending to anything that isn't a Costa film. Especially given that, ipso facto, I don't think there's anything necessarily that revolutionary or even worthwhile about sitting a stationary camera in front of a couple of drug addicts for hours on end.

On a first go, Vanda more or less met my expectations, which is to say that I was rather frustrated with it, though a strange thing happened by the time I got around to Colossal Youth. By this point, I must have finally become attuned to Costa's rhythms because I was enthralled with it from the word go. I would equate the experience to spending an afternoon watching a friend's vacation slides with lengthy narration, only if each slide were an oil painting. You really do have to look at the film in an unconventional way in order to appreciate it, but Costa gives you plenty to work with. His sense of composition really is immaculate, and his furtive shadowplay seems to place him more in league with, say, Rembrandt, than with another filmmaker. (There I go with some of my own obnoxious praise!) It also helped a lot to have the character of Ventura as a tour guide. He has this knowing, weathered face that was just meant to be immortalized on film. Or, um, DV, as it were.

Anyway, given my response to Colossal Youth, I couldn't very well rely on the taste that Vanda had left in my mouth, so I just had to block out another three hours and give it another chance. Watching it again with more trained eyes, I was in fact able to get a lot more out of it. I still don't think it's quite as fully formed as its successor, but it's exciting to see Costa heading in that direction, sort of discovering his own style as he goes along. There are also shades of Jia's great Still Life here, as the literally collapsing buildings throughout the city resonate with the long collapsed lives of its inhabitants. It's difficult viewing to be sure, but worthwhile in the end, and a necessary preamble to Colossal Youth, not only to train your eyes, but also to witness the genesis of some of the characters and of Costa's indelible style.


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PostPosted: Mon May 10, 2010 2:47 pm 

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Duncan Hopper wrote:
domino harvey wrote:
Strange that the Beaver hasn't touched this one yet. Another of their "stands"?


They're too busy reviewing DVDs released in 2003. Alucarda


I can't speak for why Eric reviewed that particular title when he did, but I can say that as a reviewer for the site, when I don't have anything forthcoming or recently released to review I'll go with something interesting in my older/unreviewed pile. I'm constantly getting older discs from various sources (including the manufacturers, and Gary's personal library) and some of them certainly deserve to be brought to light. It can be both good for the site and can give a modest boost to some labels doing good work by jump starting something from their back catalog whose sales had long since gone stalled.

As for this set, I know that Gary wanted to cover it, but was swamped at the time with other reviews and other matters. So, he sent it to me and I'm currently in the midst of reviewing it. You can expect to see it sometime this week.


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PostPosted: Sun May 16, 2010 7:49 pm 
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 22, 2010 7:55 pm 

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I finally watched Ossos about a week ago and it's creme de la creme, among the best movies I've ever seen. I was left in awe simply by the textures and look of the film. I can see Bresson influence and it's becoming clearer to me how filmmakers adopt however subconsciously Bresson's ideologies on actors as models: as a mere observer, Costa uses his actors as reflections of Fontainhas as a poverish place of haunted beauty; it's his triumphant jarring compositions that get the movie working on a highly emotional level--here's one of those rare movies that is all soul.

My question: Can I await any features where Costa discusses his actors? I'm really curious about his relationship with Vanda Duarte, as well as how he got situated in Fontainhas. The interview with Gorin revealed some cool stuff, but I want to know more! I'm guessing the commentary will have some more interesting info.


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