City of Pirates ★★★★★

Monumental. What can one say about a work predicated entirely on the intangible relationship between dreams and nightmares? An adventure story turned into a surrealist evocation of internal, repressed psychic trauma reverberating across achingly beautiful, Argento-esque images and moody explorations of landscape, recalling both Maya Deren and Buñuel in its haunting, allegorical make-up. This is completely up my alley: elegiac formalism meshed with poetic digressions consisting of streams-of-consciousness reminiscent of late Godard, all wrapped within an unnerving and hypnotically assured atmospheric tapestry.

This was the first film I've seen from Raul Ruiz, but he displays a total mastery of space and off-screen sound; environments become increasingly abstract as we move deeper into a psychological reality manifested upon the walls, the sea, the sky. Both the score and soundscape create a feeling of both intense mystery and ardent adventure, aesthetic elements which are both repressed in the second half's inspection of time and the actions/consequences that pervade our lives. I'll need to re-watch this at a later time considering how aurally and visually overwhelming this was as a first-time viewer of Ruiz's work, but this is indeed a masterpiece. It seeps into your mind, infects your dreams, and immerses you completely in its particular brand of metaphysical sensations.

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