Many of these films have often been snubbed for binning prescribed styles. What they abide by is an emotional drive generally unhampered by reason. The same process of impulses can be found listening to tracks by producers such as 90s drum and bass duo Source Direct: A percussive storm of intricate breakbeats, buffeted by swelling layers of bass. All meet along a thoughtful soundscape. When asked how they know the next juncture of a track, one member, Jim Kutta, struggling to find a clear explanation, simply referred to a gut feeling. Maybe it’s no coincidence they were heavily inspired by jazz.
The 1989 debut O Sangue was gripping despite losing sight of its plot over time. A bewitching palimpsest of sensations, cinephilia overlaps a small family’s plight and a relationship, all swamped in gothic black-and-white imagery. There’s a suite of ambiguities generating from the editing, and some still leave me puzzled. But this is an enduring attribute in Costa’s region, a place where audiences are expected to fill the gaps. After many dilemmas within the industry, struggling to capture the lives of Cape Verdean islanders in Casa de Lava (1994) and later impoverished members of the now demolished Fontaínhas community (which also populated Cape Verdean immigrants) in Ossos (1997) he created a new model of production. (We could call this model democratic or even anarchistic as he, despite personal stylisations, almost dismantles hierarchical tensions, making cast and crew equal contributors). Returning to O Sangue, while most debuts tend to be embryonic signs of what’s to come, this, narratively, is a precocious one.
The fragmented layout may raise eyebrows, specifically to that moment when Clara flees the burial. Her fears, including Vicente’s, who abandons his childhood lover and drives away, dictate this sequence’s energy and coherence. Adrenaline takes hold, pushing clarity aside. For all we know, Vicente spent hours searching. Sometimes sequences like these form an engaging whole through timing. Vicente’s numerous pants in the preceding shot provoke Clara’s rapid entrance. On occasion such a selection process can be premeditated. Pacing is another matter.
'Horse Money' will be released by Second Run in March 2016 on both DVD and Blu-Ray (marking their first venture into this format). Both 'O Sangue' and 'Casa de Lava' are available via their webstore.