Picture This! Home Video / Year: 2000
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Picture This! Home Video / Year: 2000
|We're sorry, but this title is currently unavailable.|
A lonely garbage collector deals with his isolation through anonymous sadomasochistic sex with various men.
Who knew just how trashy a garbage collector could be? In this scintillating Portugese import, we find out the answer to that question in lurid detail. O Fantasma follows Sergio (Meneses) through the streets of Lisbon, collecting both garbage and tricks along the way. When not trying to carry on a dysfunctional relationship with a female coworker, Sergio involves himself in a backseat hand job session with one stranger and a bathroom encounter with another. By the time we see Sergio masturbating with a shower cord drawn tightly around his neck, we understand he likes things... well... a bit rough. The film, for the most part, makes an intriguing study of a man who is shaken by the loneliness and detachment of his job. However, it falters in its last twenty minutes, meandering toward a too-long conclusion. Nonetheless, ,O Fantasma is one of the most outrageous and unique character studies of the year. (Portuguese with English subtitles)
What do you get when you put together a ravenously promiscuous young man, a latex suit, explicit sex, kidnapping, a mental breakdown and a live rabbit? O Fantasma, one of the strangest and sexiest films we've seen. The story centers around twentysomething Sergio (Ricardo Meneses), a Lisbon trash collector on the graveyard shift who is a societal "phantom" – one who collects the rubbish of others and eradicates it under a darkened sky. Sergio is promiscuous both on and off the job, and when not working, he is consumed by an insatiable uncontrollable desire. His sexual escapades are furtive, intense and out of the ordinary. Although his good looks usually get him the objects of his desire, one day Sergio approaches someone who isn't interested, and from there he grows more and more obsessed, going to extreme lengths – including fetishizing the young man's thrown-out underwear and motorcycle gloves - to claim his prey. Lengths that words can't quite justify, actually - you really have to experience them to believe them, as the drama culminates in one of the oddest mental breakdowns depicted in queer film ever!
Restrained yet uncompromising, beautifully shot, neo-realist in style and pace, and utilizing a cast of professionals and non-professionals, this João Pedro Rodrigues feature film debut is an unflinching look at the dark side of passion. He proves to be a filmmaker to watch. (Portuguese with English subtitles)
yawnmower (firstname.lastname@example.org) wrote on 03/06/2005:
Portuguese director Joao Pedro Rodriguez has created a film of austere beauty and sinewy power, dark and brooding like its striking protagonist. Ricardo Meneses, as the sensual, very sexual Sergio, gives a truly astonishing performance – especially considering his youth and inexperience, the nature of the material, and that this was his first and, I'm sorry to say, only film. Sergio is a lithe, muscular young garbage collector working the graveyard shift in Lisbon, but all we see of the city are its fringes. He roams forsaken moonscapes (the dumping grounds), jungle-like parks, forsaken roads. Sergio's compulsions and the force of his lust are reflected in these primitive terrains, and manifested in the increasing aberrance of his sexual behavior. The action takes place almost entirely indoors, or outside in darkness and shadow. There is, symbolically, only one moment of sunlight in the entire film when a magnificent Sergio stands, his lean body god-like, beautifully and boldly bare, on the roof of his pensione.
Ricardo Meneses, who was born to play this extraordinary part, is sensuous, narcissistic, exhibitionistic, and profoundly sexy. Mr. Rodriguez draws us into Sergio's life like voyeurs as the camera follows him, drinking in his flawless feline form as he showers, swims, admires and touches himself, prowls his habitat, has sex (with his girlfriend, his lover, his boss, a policeman, tricks), and stalks a handsome swimmer with whom he becomes obsessed. It is this last ephemeral human connection – one awkward gesture towards a world with sun – that dooms the boy. Sergio quietly asks his paramour for help and is coldly rebuffed. He becomes ever more animalistic, spiraling unremittingly downward. The tragedy which ensues is startling and seductive, like Sergio himself.
Gay Movie Viewer (email@example.com) wrote on 01/13/2004:
This picture is a mess of misused metaphors and confused imagery from start to finish. I was left scratching my head wondering who these people are and why they behave the way they do. Forgive me for expecting the film to provide any answers. First the good news – if you like beautiful boys, Ricardo Meneses as the twisted Sergio is one of the most gorgeous creatures to ever stand naked before a lens. Despite the hopelessly confusing script, his acting (such as it is) is amazing, especially if you take into account his age (18) and experience (his first film). It’s too bad he had to be “discovered” by a director who thinks nothing of making his audience beg for each scrap of insight, and pretentiously expects the viewer to read their own interpretation into whatever nonsense he sees fit to set up as his next scene. I wanted to give it the benefit of a doubt, so after sitting through one screening of this erotically charged but confused tangle of a movie, I sat through it again, this time with the directors commentary on. Cheating, I know, but after shelling out all that money for the DVD I was hoping to gain some idea of what the hell was going on. I emerged from watching it the second time half in love with the beautiful young actor Ricardo Meneses, but with only a fraction of the respect I had for the director, Joao Pedro Rodrigues, after my first screening. And that wasn’t much. Sergio is a garbage collector for the city of Lisbon. He works a graveyard shift with an assortment of other oddballs, and in between collecting garbage he has a series of sexual escapades that seem impossibly jaded for one so young. While other boys his age are swimming or surfing, he’s dressing up in a full-body suit of latex, having anonymous sex in men’s rooms (including the most explicit act of fellatio I have ever seen in a non-pornographic movie) and exploring S & M adventures with any willing male he can find. Just so you know how kinky he is, in one scene he masturbates in the shower while strangling himself with the shower-massage cord. You really have to wonder where the imagination comes from, until you realize that the writer-director has been harboring some pretty extreme sexual fantasies about his friendly neighborhood garbage men. Sergio has a female co-worker who is in love with him, but she’s busy screwing the foreman, and Sergio’s only interest in her is to tease her sexually and then play cruel jokes on her. He finally meets a man who doesn’t succumb to his charms, because he’s obviously straight. This was not the first or last thing in this film I didn’t get; when I was that age, and almost as pretty as Sergio, I understood that some guys just couldn’t be had, so I shrugged my shoulders and moved on. Not our Sergio. He takes obsession to unheard of heights, especially for an 18 year old. He stalks the young swimmer, goes through his garbage, and steals his torn old swimsuit. Of course unrequited sexual obsession in films is not exactly new – remember Reflections In A Golden Eye? In that film, made in 1967 and still considered by many critics to be one of the ten worst bombs ever made, the male object of Marlon Brando’s desire was almost as pretty as Ricardo Meneses, but that film had the advantage of a script that was at least coherent at times. In one of the first of many explicit sexual encounters in O Fantasma, Sergio, while walking his dog, comes upon a policeman handcuffed and gagged in the backseat of a patrol car. He proceeds to masturbate the cop to orgasm, leaving him tied up in the car and then running off to work, where he spends the rest of the night sniffing his hand and licking the residue. I was hoping that the director’s commentary would maybe explain how and why the cop is tied up in his own squad car, but his sole comment on the soundtrack is, “You don’t understand in the film why the cop is handcuffed”. Excuse me, Mr. Rodrigues, but I didn’t understand it in the audience, either. Sergio’s only tender scenes are when he takes care of the dog that appears to be the mascot of the garbage collectors. In one scene, Sergio is busy cleaning the dog dishes and doghouse with a hose, when he turns and sees the foreman standing in the door. He pushes past, their faces register some indications of conflict, and then the foreman shuts the door. The director’s commentary on this action is, “The door closes, and you know what will happen, but you don’t see it”. Uh, no, I’m afraid the relationship between Sergio and foreman is the least developed of all the underdeveloped relationships in this film, so what will happen next is anybody’s guess. Not that I really cared; Sergio is the only character in the script whose personality is even partially explored, and all we ever really learn about him is that he’s sexually compulsive and kinky to the max. The picture goes on endlessly, with Sergio refusing to let go of his obsession for the young surfer / swimmer, until he has the most excruciatingly slow breakdown ever recorded in a movie. At the same time, what little there is of coherence also breaks down. The director’s commentary infuriated me even more when toward the end, after spending most of the commentary praising the cooperation, beauty, talent and maturity of his young lead actor, he proclaims, “It is cruel to say it, but he wants to continue acting, and I think he will not act again. I will not use him in my next film…it’s like his body has been used up”. I haven’t had the benefit of seeing anything else by Mr. Rodrigues, but if given the choice of viewing Mr. Rodrigues’ next film or Ricardo Meneses next appearance I think I’d opt for the beautiful boy any day. After botching the attempted kidnapping of his beloved obsession, Sergio takes off to spend the balance of the film wordlessly running. The final scenes treat us to a guided tour of the sights, sounds (and by way of commentary) smells of a garbage dump. As Sergio wanders through the dump clutching a live rabbit he finds among the garbage (“I saw the rabbits there” says the director on the commentary, “so it’s believable”) the director, grasping for a final metaphor, remarks “He is like a cross between a bug and an insect” a comment that seems to me to be a cross between the idiotic and the insipid. He then ends this drivel after the slowest twenty minutes of film I’ve ever sat through by more or less telling us he didn’t really know how to end it – like I hadn’t figured that out a full ten minutes before the end credits started running. As Sergio continues to stumble on into the dawn before the final fadeout, the director says, “I could bring him back to the city, but that would not make much sense”. The idea of a scene that might not make much sense didn’t prevent him from filming the other 90 minutes of this drek – I dare say he should have gone for it.
Jack wrote on 11/29/2003:
This movie is not for everybody. I have read a lot of reviews and opinions on this film and there are a lot of disagreements. I happen to like this film very much. If you're planning to purchase this film you may want to do some research. An internet search using the director's name or the young star's name will turn up much useful information. There is very little dialogue. It is a story told through image and sound. It is a disturbing film that makes you think about life. It should not be compared to a porno film just becauses it has an explicit portrayal of oral sex. Which by the way, shows a very realistic picture of dominance and submission that you will not see in a sex film. The star of the film is one of the most gorgeous and charismatic actors you will ever see. He is a relatively inexperienced actor yet brings a powerful performance to this film. This is an avante garde film made by a European director and explores the darkest area of the human psyche. If that is not the type of film that would hold your interest then maybe it is not for you.
Paco (Loudun@aol.com) wrote on 11/07/2003:
One of the worst movies I ever saw. It does not make any sense at all, it is boring, incongruent, stupid. It has an explicit blow job, so, instead, rent a real porno flick, and you will be more rewarded. Honestly, a total waste of time, really frustrating and disappointing, TLA should warned us about it, instead of giving it 3 stars. I wonder how it was the "official selection in competition at the Venice Film Festival".
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