It’s a pretty small category: films about death made by directors who knew they were dying. Until now, the genre has included a scant three movies that I know of: John Huston’s “The Dead” (1987), Derek Jarman’s “Blue” (1993), and Robert Altman’s “A Prairie Home Companion” (2006). The arrival of Raúl Ruiz’s final work, “Night Across the Street,” brings the total to four, an elegant, clear-eyed bridge game of artists playing their last trump cards.
Ruiz’s movies resist both categorization and star ratings, and “Night,” filmed while the director was battling liver cancer (he died in August 2011 of a lung infection), is no different. Nominally based on stories by the Chilean writer Hernán del Solar, it’s an exuberantly Ruizian meditation on a man’s final days, fondly surreal and lit with a life’s wisdom. The title character, Don Celso (Sergio Hernández), is a stand-in for the filmmaker, and he skips easily between childhood memories and a weary present tense.