Throughout December, J.R. Jones and I will take turns writing about our favorite films that had their Chicago premieres this year.

This lighthearted—but by no means lightweight—fantasy was Manoel de Oliveira’s most substantial film since A Talking Picture (2003). Its central theme is nothing less than the preparation for death, yet de Oliveira approaches it with understatement and wry humor. It’s also a moving allegory about cinema, as its hero finds himself able to communicate with the dead (in the body of a recently deceased young woman he’s been hired to photograph) by looking through the lens of his camera.