Brazilian filmmaker Kleber Mendonça Filho tells us the origins of his love for motion pictures, developed in the city of Recife at theaters like the Veneza and Sao Luiz. Though these cinemas were closed over time and converted into different spaces with new people and memories, the ghosts of the films of the director’s youth remain. The film moves at a breakneck pace, backward and forwards in time, as Mendonca recalls with impeccable detail the films and film workers that occupied these historic spaces.
Next is an exercise in slow cinema, one that gives each different time period its own segment. Lisandro Alonso’s “Eureka” consists of three thematically related stories of varying quality.
The first features Viggo Mortenson as a lone gunman in the Old West searching for his missing daughter. It takes place in a black-and-white, cinematic old west with strange performances, awkward gaps between dialogue, and a lovably cheesy sensibility. The second portion of the film is a more modern western noir, focusing on a Native police officer in South Dakota working late into the night. It plays as a hyperrealistic look into the troubled lives of modern Native Americans as they struggle with poverty and drugs. The third and most abstract portion of the film goes back in time to the ’70s in the Brazilian rainforest, where indigenous workers pontificate about the future of their lives.
While the connection between the first two segments is obvious—the past and present of the Western—the third segment is culturally and geographically divorced from what came before. Deliberately opaque about its themes, “Eureka” challenges audiences to decide how all three narratives connect.
The final film in the batch is much more straightforward about its intentions. “Last Summer,” Catherine Breillat’s glossy remake of the 2019 Danish drama “Queen of Hearts,” reimagines the somber story of a stepmother who starts having an affair with her teenage stepson. Anne (Léa Drucker) is a stylish lawyer specializing in advocating for children. She even has two young adopted daughters with her loving older husband, Pierre (Olivier Rabourdin).