Every day, Watch This offers staff recommendations inspired by a new movie coming out that week. This month: The A.V. Club atones for its sins of omission, recommending the best movies of the year that we didn’t review.
“My name is Joaquim; my life is uneventful,” monotones a man’s voice over a shot of a fat Portuguese slug crawling through a field of straw. “Two years ago, I started to set down in a map my good days and my bad days. I gave up after a month. They were almost all bad.”
So begins Joaquim Pinto’s candid, diaristic, nearly three-hour What Now? Remind Me, a superb piece of first-person-singular filmmaking. What Now? covers a year in Pinto’s life, as he undergoes an experimental treatment for HIV, which he’s been living with for over two decades. Its subject isn’t illness, but the stuff of life, as seen from the perspective of man lying down. Pinto points his camera at friends and insects (dragonflies are a favorite), at museum exhibits and TV screens, into paleolithic caves and his own sex life, at his husband Nuno and their elderly dog, whose medical problems parallel Pinto’s own—at, essentially, everything in his immediate surroundings. He observes, ruminates, lives, films.
What emerges is a multifaceted memoir, and a good reminder that essay can (and should) be a verb. Prescribed “a year of forced rest,” Pinto—a longtime producer and sound designer best known for his work with João César Monteiro, Manoel De Oliveira, and Raul Rúiz—goes on a trip around his own world, fixing his attention on everything from a bee crawling along the edge of a hamburger to rain gathering on a windshield, as though they were new and unfamiliar sights begging to be explored.
Availability: What Now? Remind Me is available on DVD, which can be obtained from your local video store/library.