Arabian Nights: Volume 2, The Desolate One ★★★½

"i must have puss — the moon is almost risen!"

…or something like that. anyway, like the middle chapter of most trilogies, this volume suffers enormously by starting mid-sentence. even having just seen the first chapter, i missed how Gomes' playfully self-reflexive introduction set things up, and i didn't love how he compensates for that with more pointed stabs at political commentary, which stretch from the sharper language of the opening text to the explicit message of the lugubrious middle chapter.

also feels less freewheeling than the previous movie…until, at least, the massive final story (and obvious Palm Dog winner from shot 1), which is something of a scattershot masterpiece in how it condenses the financial struggles of an entire country into a single hellish (but hopeful) apartment complex, with an adorable poodle mix as our Virgil.

strangely enough, the enormity of what Gomes is doing here didn't sink in until the innocuous shot used to backdrop the closing credits. curious how this all takes shape with the final bit.