The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


Casa De Lava DVD And Screening
Manish Agarwal , September 27th, 2012 02:56

Stunning new HD transfer for mysterious 1994 gem

Conceived as a modern spin on Jacques Tourneur's 1943 voodoo horror I Walked With A Zombie, Pedro Costa's exquisitely shot second feature stars Inês de Medeiros as Lisbon nurse Mariana, who accompanies the comatose and seemingly friendless immigrant labourer Leão (played by Jim Jarmusch regular Isaach De Bankolé) back home to his multiracial island village in Cape Verde. Waiting for her patient to regain consciousness and lost amid an otherworldly volcanic landscape - the title's literal translation being 'house of lava' - she's further bamboozled by the local residents, including an aphoristic old violinist who's fathered many children (Raul Andrade), a white expat who now only speaks Creole (veteran French actress Edith Scob), and said woman's lonely adult son (the late Pedro Hestnes).

Soulfully improvised yet never overstated, the film intrigues on many levels. It's an elliptical mystery rife with conflicting passions; a self-reflexive meditation on colonialism and identity (isolated Mariana can be viewed as an avatar for the Portugese auteur, who lost his family at an early age); not to mention a richly coloured head movie blessed by gorgeous natural light and some deeply satisfying nighttime tableaux. Second Run DVD release Casa de Lava this week in a typically attractive package boasting director and cinematographer interviews, extensive liner notes courtesy of US critic Jonathan Rosenbaum, plus a specially created scrapbook marrying production images and text to original ambient music. The restoration will also be screened at London's ICA on Sunday September 30, with Pedro Costa in conversation.