João César Monteiro: The Genius of Insanity

Actor-director João César Monteiro’s films often take place in just a few quiet corners of Lisbon, but their philosophical scope encompasses everything between his cajones and the cosmos. Monteiro (1939-2003) was a modernist scavenger, his artistic persona that of a tramp Dumpster-diving through Western civilization, pinching from movies, music, painting, theater. This five-film retrospective begins with 1989’s Recollections of the Yellow House, in which Monteiro plays a world-weary, chain-smoking, pubic-hair-collecting girl watcher. With his vulture-like countenance, weedy hermit’s frame, and exquisite gestures, Monteiro cuts a figure fit for silent film comedy. His alter ego, João de Deus, has a Peeping Tom fixation on his landlady’s daughter and an obsession with old movies (including Nosferatu and those of Erich von Stroheim). Monteiro reprises the character in subsequent pictures, which share a mood and style: Microscopic gags, epic runtimes, erratic plots, perfectly snipped-off long takes, and dreamy sensuality. João is not a great seducer, but the films are perfumed with his love of women. (NR) NICK PINKERTON

Fri., July 30, 7 & 9:30 p.m.; July 31-Aug. 5, 2010

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