Your Online Georges Méliès Film Festival

Ben Kingsley and Asa Butterfield in Hugo (Paramount)

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Here’s another blog trying to prove how clever they are by linking to all the visual references in Hugo.” Wrong. Granted it’d be more painstaking to jot down the shots and match them to those in the film. However, the purpose of this post is a bit broader.

I have linked to anything and everything I could find. Some are referenced in Hugo, some aren’t. What I really want to people to do is to take a few minutes and watch some of there. Some are quite short. However, I’ve also created this post using just one website.

The internet archive is a great resource for all kinds of material but especially films which have entered the public domain. You can stream and download all kinds of great movies for free.

If you enjoy these movies, as I suspect you will, in their more primitive degraded state then you can look to Flicker Alley who have released many great sets of Georges Méliès rediscovered and restored works on DVD.

Enjoy!

If you ever wonder where your dreams come from, look around: this is where they’re made.
-Ben Kingsley, Hugo

<a href="http://www.archive.org/details/Lauberge-ensorceletheBewitchedInn1897&quot; title="The Bewitched Inn (1897)”>

A Terrible Night (1896)

The Devil in a Convent (1899)

<a href='http://www.archive.org/details/Cinderella_601&#039;>Cinderella (1899)

Joan of Arc (1899) [TINTED; Third-Party Voice Over Added]

The Man with a Head in the Cabinet (circa 1900)

The One Man Orchestra (1900)

The Devil and the Statue (1901)

A Trip to the Moon (1902)

The Monster (1903)

The Infernal Cauldron

The Impossible Voyage (1904)

The Infernal Cakewalk (1903)

Frolics of Satan (1906) [TINTED]

The Palace of the Arabian Nights (1906)

The Eclipse (1907)

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1907)

Good Glue Sticks (1907)

The Devilish Tenant (1909) [TINTED]

Make Your Own Film Festival- Pick a Country (Part 7 of 7)

Windows doesn’t discriminate between regions any longer, and neither does Macintosh. Even if they do you should get a warning when inserting a Non-Region 1 DVD (meaning one made for distribution outside the US, Canada and Mexico) saying what region it is and asking if you want to change your computer’s region. Typically, there has been a set limit on how many times you could change regions before it became a permanent switch. Even if your computer is more finicky you still have an opportunity to watch many more DVDs, many of which you can only find online, that you never thought you could before.

Some foreign films have limited appeal and distribution internationally. You should take that into account when traveling overseas and pick up some movies you won’t find in the US. Taking that in to consideration this critic made a number of purchases when in Brazil in 2008 to set up a mini-festival.

Cidade de Deus (City of God)


Alexandre Rodrigues in City of God (Miramax)

This is a film produced by Walter Salles who was at the helm of the prior breakout hit from Brazil, Central Station, it’s a tale of how the favelas got how they are, how they went from “purgatory to hell” as the film puts it. It’s a tale that weaves several threads together intriguingly it’ll start focused on a character or group of characters but also introduce other characters, then when the secondary characters come into focus the story backpedals and fills in blanks. It flashes back with style and tells a gritty story in the highest rendition of cinematic art. It not only tells a bulk of its story within a frame but also has several dovetails of jaw-dropping quality and affect. It’s also a film that proves samba can provide a score effective in all situations and reflective of all emotions. It’s a film unafraid of montage with dialogue.

One of the best films of the decade that just ended. Brazil in the past two decades has had tremendous achievements on the world cinema stage including a Best Actress award at Cannes for Sandra Corveloni in Linha de Passe. It is consistency that detractors seem to be in want of.

All in all this is a festival that showed some of the prowess, and in a few cases weakness, of Brazilian cinema. If you have seen a film from a country that intrigued you can look into creating a similar fest of your own because seeing only wide international releases doesn’t really give you a feel for a country’s cinema.

Make Your Own Film Festival- Pick a Country (Part 6 of 7)

Windows doesn’t discriminate between regions any longer, and neither does Macintosh. Even if they do you should get a warning when inserting a Non-Region 1 DVD (meaning one made for distribution outside the US, Canada and Mexico) saying what region it is and asking if you want to change your computer’s region. Typically, there has been a set limit on how many times you could change regions before it became a permanent switch. Even if your computer is more finicky you still have an opportunity to watch many more DVDs, many of which you can only find online, that you never thought you could before.

Some foreign films have limited appeal and distribution internationally. You should take that into account when traveling overseas and pick up some movies you won’t find in the US. Taking that in to consideration this critic made a number of purchases when in Brazil in 2008 to set up a mini-festival.

Se Eu Fosse Voce (If I Were You)


If I Were You (20th Century Fox Brazil)

This is a genre film. It’s a trading places story which is funny and elevated due to the tremendous performances of the ensemble specifically Tony Ramos and Gloria Pires. While very few of these films go out of their way to try and explain the catalyst of the switch this one does. While in other films most notably Freaky Friday the switch is caused by a minimal twist of fate like a fortune cookie. This film operates on a much more cosmic level with planets aligning, which makes you wonder why they’re the only ones, especially considering the jokey ending which, seemed to imply another switch which would’ve been impossible by the rules established at that point.

Another thing that absolutely undoes all the good work of the cast is the fact that the cat should be let out of the bag about their trading places when Ramos’s character, now a woman trying to pass herself as a man, receives a phone call from her husband trying to live as a woman; at that time of the month and in need of guidance. Unfortunately, the secretary announces it’s his wife so the staff overhears part of the conversation chuckles, this is not something that can be forgiven. He should’ve tried to cover by saying it was a mistake and it was his daughter calling. Worst still this occurrence was about where Act II was turning to Act III so it lightened the climax and rendered it an anti-climax because there was no longer the risk of being found out. We know they will understand one another and the opposite sex better. That’s a given of this subgenre what we need for entertainment purposes is some suspense.

It’s a harmless film in the end. It’s not the kind of bad film that gets you angry but just upset that great performances and talents were wasted in a simplistic tale with obvious flaws that could’ve been easily corrected.

Make Your Own Film Festival- Pick A Country (Part 5 of 7)

Windows doesn’t discriminate between regions any longer, and neither does Macintosh. Even if they do you should get a warning when inserting a Non-Region 1 DVD (meaning one made for distribution outside the US, Canada and Mexico) saying what region it is and asking if you want to change your computer’s region. Typically, there has been a set limit on how many times you could change regions before it became a permanent switch. Even if your computer is more finicky you still have an opportunity to watch many more DVDs, many of which you can only find online, that you never thought you could before.

Some foreign films have limited appeal and distribution internationally. With that in mind you should take that into account when traveling overseas and pick up some movies you won’t find in the US. Taking that in to consideration this critic made a number of purchases when in Brazil in 2008 to set up a mini-festival.

Avassaladoras (Overwhelming Women)

Overwhelming Women (Fox Filmes do Brasil)

This is the kind of film that would be described in Brazil as “sugarwater,” sweet, simple and ultimately disposable lacking any depth or substance. Granted it does try and in the end it is an anti-romantic comedy in as much as our protagonist gets no one in the end. It is so singularly focused on her finding someone that it barely builds her or any other semblance of a subplot. It is very narrow-minded throughout.

The cast is decent. Caco Ciocler appears here as well and is hardly recognizable and extremely funny. It goes a little over the top at times but at least it is generally light but the resolution in the end is facile and its oncoming was buried. Though they were fine Giovanna Antonelli and Reynaldo Giannechini were underutilized here and their relationship, though understandable, was quite odd until they finally speak to one another.

It is likely this kind of film and the next that give Brazilian films a bad name in Brazil. It’s a genre film, the likes of which we’ve seen thousands of come out of the US so why bother when they can be just as bad coming from the States? Also the idea could likely be better executed on television and at least would be more acceptable light fare in that medium.

Make Your Own Film Festival- Pick a Country (Part 4 of 7)

Windows doesn’t discriminate between regions any longer, and neither does Macintosh. Even if they do you should get a warning when inserting a Non-Region 1 DVD (meaning one made for distribution outside the US, Canada and Mexico) saying what region it is and asking if you want to change your computer’s region. Typically, there has been a set limit on how many times you could change regions before it became a permanent switch. Even if your computer is more finicky you still have an opportunity to watch many more DVDs, many of which you can only find online, that you never thought you could before.

Some foreign films have limited appeal and distribution internationally. With that in mind you should take that into account when traveling overseas and pick up some movies you won’t find in the US. Taking that into consideration this critic made a number of purchases when in Brazil in 2008 to set up a mini-festival.

Olga


Olga (Lumière)

The packaging of this film tells quite a tale. First, this is the only DVD of the batch which has the logos of all the corporate sponsors, production companies, studios and governmental agencies affiliated with the production of the film on the disc itself, which total 19. Another view into the Brazilian film industry is the stat on the back which hypes the film as a box-office smash having over 3 million viewers. Firstly, we obviously don’t measure films on individual ticket sales in the US but even if you translate that to an American audience you can see how modest audiences for domestic product in Brazil are. In America that would equal something just over a $30M gross, even with a modest budget that wouldn’t raise eyebrows.

Olga is a rather interesting tale of a woman Olga (Camila Morgado) who was a communist revolutionary in Germany and who travels to Brazil to ensure the safe transit of a famous Brazilian revolutionary, Prestes, and gets involved in a failed plot to overthrow the military dictatorship. It’s a long film because it tells three tales really – her love story with Prestes (Caco Ciocler) then her attempt to flee and then her deportation to Nazi Germany and incarceration in a concentration camp.

It was an epic challenge for a first time motion picture director Jayme Monjardim, who had quite a bit of experience on TV in mini-series and telenovela form. For the most part it’s quite effective. Morgado’s performance is great in arc and quality. At times the score is a bit overwrought as if asking you to feel seeming not to trust the material. There are also a lot of silent pensive scenes that could’ve been excised with more judicious editing. The film is already very visual, so we don’t need these silences inflating the run time.

Overall, it is a rather interesting tale and one which is likely unknown to most with good performances throughout including the supporting cast like Osmar Prado playing Getulio Vargas and Fernanda Montenegro, Brazil’s best actress as Prestes’ mother.

Make Your Own Film Festival- Pick A Country (3 of 7)

Zuzu Angel


Windows doesn’t discriminate between regions any longer, and neither does Macintosh. Even if they do you should get a warning when inserting a Non-Region 1 DVD (meaning one made for distribution outside the US, Canada and Mexico) saying what region it is and asking if you want to change your computer’s region. Typically, there has been a set limit on how many times you could change regions before it became a permanent switch. Even if your computer is more finicky you still have an opportunity to watch many more DVDs, many of which you can only find online, that you never thought you could before.

Some foreign films have limited appeal and distribution internationally. With that in mind you should take that into account when traveling overseas and pick up some movies you won’t find in the US. Taking that in to consideration this critic made a number of purchases when in Brazil in 2008 to set up a mini-festival.

Patricia Pilar and Daniel de Oliveira in Zuzu Angel (Warner Bros.)

Another interesting piece of history examined through the lens of fiction – the historical drama. The reason this form is likely so dominant in Brazilian art is because a documentary though more true to fact will be harder to piece together after the fact. The other key factor is the audience for fiction will always be bigger, like it or not.
So much of the material that is relevant is dramatized history that is being re-earthed for dramatic purposes and to avoid history repeating itself. It is interesting in that it tells the tale of Brazilian woman who meets an American, marries, becomes a famous fashion designer and her son becomes a radical opposed to the military regime. In trying to unravel the mystery surrounding his disappearance she becomes a radical herself.

It starts out on a very high note in medias res emotionally speaking and gives us a slightly telenovela moment (this kind of moment in Brazilian terms is much more naturalistic than its Mexican cousin). Patricia Pillar is spectacular in this role not only working bilingually but in terms of her arc and range she goes from uncaring and aloof to angry, embittered, passionate, sad and plays the lady when she has to.

Like many of the new era of Brazilian films it refuses to go in chronological order and yet becomes more engaging because of it and tells cumbersome tales that encompass years deftly. This proclivity for temporal distortion could be one of the reason many in Brazil do not like domestic films because they are not the simplistic Hollywood product they are used to seeing. The stories aren’t easy and to tell them in perfect order would be rote and trite and in these films would be all history lesson and no story, no emotional involvement whatsoever. This was without a doubt one of the most powerful entries in this festival.

Make Your Own Film Festival- Pick a Country (Part 2 of 7)

Windows doesn’t discriminate between regions any longer, and neither does Macintosh. Even if they do you should get a warning when inserting a Non-Region 1 DVD (meaning one made for distribution outside the US, Canada and Mexico) saying what region it is and asking if you want to change your computer’s region. Typically, there has been a set limit on how many times you could change regions before it became a permanent switch. Even if your computer is more finicky you still have an opportunity to watch many more DVDs, many of which you can only find online, that you never thought you could before.

Some foreign films have limited appeal and distribution internationally. With that in mind you should take that into account when traveling overseas and pick up some movies you won’t find in the US. Taking that in to consideration this critic made a number of purchases when in Brazil in 2008 to set up a mini-festival.

Tropa de Elite (Elite Squad)


Wagner Moura in Elite Squad (IFC Films)

Like the previous film it was an official selection of the Berlin Film Festival. This tale is like the flip side of City of God, this film instead takes the point of view of a specialized unit of the Military Police in Rio de Janeiro who battle drug trafficking and crime in the city’s favelas.

The film focuses on three officers in the troop. The protagonist/narrator is seeking a replacement so he can stop fighting in the war, as he terms it. The other two are novices who are being trained. The other interesting dichotomy that exists between this film and City of God is that for the most part it focuses on why things are the way they are and the way the police infrastructure allows things to stay the way they are where as City of God was much more focused on the sprawling tale of how things got the way they are.

The structure of this film does include a frame and is somewhat interesting and though there are moments of intensity and some very dramatic situations there is nowhere near the involvement or the frenetic energy that exists in City of God. The acting is quite good and the writing is rather strong in this tale but it’s nowhere near the revolutionary piece that the film earlier in the last decade was. Comparisons become hard to avoid when one film seems like such a companion piece to another, when they seem to be opposite sides of the same coin.

They would definitely make for a great double-feature if you can handle it.