Review: A Wolf at the Door

A Wolf at the Door may appear on the surface to be a standard, formulaic Fatal Attraction-style plot transported in location and time. However, where this film differentiates itself is rightly in its reflection of its setting and its lack of concern over traditional conflicts caused by extra-marital affairs but rather it seeks to examine the characters on their own terms, how they interact and how they affect one another.

A Wolf at the Door starts with the inciting incident, a crime, a mother (Fabíula Nascimento) reports an unknown woman has picked up her six-year-old girl at school. While being questioned the school teacher starts remembering certain details that give the investigators a slight lead. As they summon the girl’s father (Milhem Cortaz) he confesses to an affair that leads suspicions to center on his lover, Rosa (Leandra Leal).

In a tale where at times witnesses are unreliable, and they slowly give more details about what they did or didn’t do, revealing layers of truth; a fractured chronology with frames and some narrative ellipses will be not only preferable but almost a necessity.

Much of what makes this film work is the pairing of cinematography and editing in long takes. In these hypnotic shots with slow pushes like a Brazilian version of Fred Kelemen’s work with Bela Tarr the viewer is drawn into the madness unfolding, and it also allows the actors the freedom, and the challenge to work uninterrupted without alternate takes. This continuous imagery with precise movement and mise-en-scène may seem less cinematic to those who have gotten too used to the ever shortening shot-lengths in Hollywood films; however, it’s quite the opposite. It’s astounding to watch on a technical level alone, and much more impressive when you see what it does for this story.

A Wolf At The Door (2014, Strand Releasing)

Whenever writing on a film produced outside the US, and not in the English language, there is a temptation to do a standard mandatory bit on cultural relativism; especially when its a culture I’m as familiar with as the Brazilian one being a dual citizen. Yet that familiarity with the culture doesn’t guarantee the success of the product in question, just as much as “based on true events,” which this film boasts; doesn’t guarantee 100% accuracy. The cultural relativism bit bears saying here because there are certain plot points that may challenge suspension of disbelief that are quite culturally accurate and ring true.

This is another film that is fearless in tackling a taboos, not only in general, but using it as its climactic moment, and that’s as much as bears saying without giving too much away.

Because they sometimes get overlooked I will first give kudos to a standout supporting turn in this film: Thalita Carauta, playing a character who only gets thrown into the mix by chance on a few occasions steals every scene she’s in. A bulk of the film is carried by Leandra Leal and Milhem Cortaz, more by Leal for her scenes with Nascimento. They are both magnetic, and precise in charting their persona’s unraveling, and make it quite easy for those shots to hold as long as they do. They turn in two of the most impressive performances to date this year.

A Wolf at the Door is definitely not a story to be entered into lightly, and will most definitely not find universal favor. However, those believe that great art can and should be created from human immorality and depravity should give it a look.


A Wolf at the Door will be available on DVD and digital video on August 25th. 

Thankful for World Cinema: Once a Upon a Time Veronica (2012)


For an introduction to the concept of Thankful for World Cinema please go here.

Once Upon a Time Veronica (2012)

How does one paint a portrait of a contemporary Brazil? How best does one illuminate the sense of utter helplessness one can feel, when faced on a daily basis with the problems others are facing both at home and in the workplace? How can one find any peace, if not by going from psychiatrist at public hospital and into private practice?

Once Upon a Time Veronica is not the only Brazilian film of recent vintage to tackle some of these questions, at least in part if not in whole. Neighboring Sounds dealt with a species of urban malaise (in the same city) not completely dissimilar from the kind illustrated in this film – and shares a cast member in common with this film (WJ Solha).

This film deals well in dichotomy, if not in an overall portrait. It hinges on the performance of the eponymous Veronica (Hermila Guedes) and does much of its soul-searching as she talks into her tape recorder. As the film ends she makes her last entry into the recorder, not that she as a person is complete, or a finished product (for who ever is?), but she’s ready to let that crutch go and accept herself.

The self-examination is a mean to an end for the character as much as it’s a MacGuffin, but is the search of an interesting person enough to hang a story upon when the narrative framework is uninteresting? It’s not quite. The investigation, even bereft of concrete answers, is usually worth it. Even if a character is deemed merely interesting.

Perhaps a lot of the issue this film faces is that its protagonist is laid bare and not commented upon. Another part of the issue is that there isn’t a great deal of externalization of her conflict, it’s a very internal debate with few decisions made. When a character is treated as such then they are open to interpretation and reactions to said character can be varied.

There are technical aspects, as well as performance aspects of this film that are admirable but it all comes down to the narrative. It’s one I saw as treading far too much water and my view on some of her decisions is colored by sections of the storytelling I found to be lacking. My take on her and the film may have been different if things were presented differently. As it stands, I find this intimate portrait as un-compelling as her conclusion of her introspective thesis.


Underrated Dramas: Brazil


Recently I decided to partake in another great theme going on at Rupert Pupkin Speaks. The last list I did there was for the Underrated Comedies series. As I anticipated there, was far more competition among movies I like to make the dramas list than the comedies list. So much so that I decided to post ancillary lists here before the big list debuts there. I wasn’t able to get all the contenders onto these lists but I was able to feature the most competitive regions (foreign films were one of my main foci). This is the last of the lists, you can find the first such list here and the second here.

Underrated Dramas: Brazil

Brazil immediately came to mind as another region that could have its own list for me. As opposed to the Benelux region, where I’m seeing much of the zeitgeist and that’s getting me more interested in the region in general as well as their history in film, with Brazil the intrigue is life long owing to my dual citizen status. A few other criteria I tried to hit were to have disparate decades represented, and even though there are two 1986 titles, one is period and one is “present day.” I also tried to find films whose availability is limited. So while these are all great and highly recommended they may be hard to track down.

On to the list…

Malandro (A Opera do Malandro) (1986)

A Opera do Malandro (1986, The Samuel Goldwyn Company)

I have likely written about all these films before, so rather than quote myself I will link and then discuss the film briefly from a new vantage point.

When playing national word-association most will mention football (soccer) when it comes to Brazil. I would hope they would also mention music at some point if pressed for more words. Chico Buarque is among Brazilian music’s legendary names. Here you have a film that’s a dramatization of songs he wrote, but also quite a telling and compelling drama. The images I always associated with these songs in my mind here are given form and context in a great way, incorporating period and obfuscated commentary.

All Nudity Shall Be Punished (Toda Nudez Sera Castigada) (1974)

Toda Nudez Sera Castigada (1974)

Once when looking to get into the works of one of Brazil’s most famed writers, Machado de Assis, I was surprised to learn that some of his works had been translated into English. When seeking to discuss this Rodrigues-based film I decided to search anew. Apparently there was once a translation of his collected works that’s gone out of print. I’m not surprised by that fact. However, why I think films based on his works could translate better is the very nature of the medium itself. Especially now, you can get films to you. Theatre has, and always will be, either in text or as a spectator, something you have to actively seek out; it’s about live performance. All you can have at the push of a button is something recorded. Therefore, a visual interpretation of his plays, which would fill in blanks a reader may not know or think to fill in, could very well connect. This film is particularly effective, shocking and rather emblematic of his style and would work brilliantly as an introduction.

Love Me Forever or Never (Eu Sei Que eu Vou te Amar) (1986)

Eu Sei Que Eu Vou Te Amar (1986)

Whenever a film has garnered a major international award and then falls into relative obscurity, it always makes me wonder why. That question becomes even more relevant when the award was an acting award, but the film itself is also very strong. Fernanda Torres, daughter of Brazil’s most acclaimed actress, Fernanda Montenegro; has in this film her breakout role that won her Best Actress at Cannes. However, for as cloistered and chamber-bound this film is, it really is a tour-de-force and doesn’t feel overly-stagey due to the edit, and is well worth watching should you be able to find it.

Elite Squad 2: The Enemy Within (Tropa de Elite 2: O Enimigo Agora É Outro) (2010)

Tropa de Elite 2: O Inimigo Agora e Outro (2010, New Video)

It sounds trite to start with: A sequel better than the original, but it really is. Granted, I’d never recommend you start with part two, but if you’re looking for an impressive double-feature with well-directed and choreographed action and sociopolitical intrigue it’s hard to top these films. These are also the films you should be watching when asking yourself: “Where did Spider in Elysium come from?” These are the kinds of, usually superior films, crossover international actors make their names in. Director José Padilha has also been rumored or linked to English-language titles and may get one yet.

Blue Eyes (Olhos Azuis) (2009)

Olhos Azuis (2009)

Kind of as antidote to the issues I discuss in the globalization of casting piece this film is a tremendously taut drama that puts an American character actor, David Rasche, in a starring role and maximizes his underutilized talents. This is a mightily overlooked piece of work that addresses the immigration question head on. It takes things to extremes and does engage in literal debate, but it’s about its characters too so that makes the piece inherently human for as politically charged as it is. It’s worth looking for as it features Irandhir Santos of the above title in another great role.

The Problems of Limiting Foreign Film Submissions (Part 1 of 2)

In my previous post, I wrote about how I would propose to alter the Foreign Language Film submission process. I am working backwards as now, in this post, I will address, with a little more support to back up my own hypotheses the issues that would be addressed if you were to allow select countries multiple submissions.

Essentially, the goal is as follows:

If you are a nation like France or Italy with a long and rich cinematic tradition, the selection process can prove volatile and complex. France, for example, submitted Of Gods and Men a few years ago. Its being snubbed, while an Algerian film with a similar subject, Outside the Law, making the shortlist caused quite a furor. Now, this is not to say that France being given more submissions would’ve gotten it to the shortlist, but being limited to one film invariably creates questions and doubts. Both nations made films about the colonial era, one was chosen and one wasn’t. Aside from the complaints about which nation a production really pertains to, it’s messy. Just search debates about selections and you will find trades reporting on them annually.

Now, I will grant that a multiple submission policy is altruism, and being realistic these things would likely still have happened but if France were afforded a handful of submissions, these incidents would likely have been lessened.

Erika Bók in The Turin Horse (Cinema Guild)

Taking any political extremism out of the equation, multiple nominees for some countries would also make some nations more inclined to take a chance. When Hungary submitted The Turin Horse last year, it was speculated in trades to have a slim chance due to the composition of the viewership and the nature of the film, and sure enough it wasn’t shortlisted. Not that Hungary has been especially prolific lately, and their last nomination was in 1988, but it’s a good example of a country that could’ve used an extra spot to pick what it thought was the best artistic choice and then gamble on a popular pick and/or one likely to find favor with American viewers.

Greece’s selection of Dogtooth a few years ago was seen as some as being silly, almost frivolous. Just it being described as gutsy made me want to see it. They were lucky in actually earning a nomination. I enjoyed it, but was equally surprised by its selection once I saw it.

With just one film allotted per country, as fair as that may seem, too many ulterior factors come into play besides is this really the best film, and some of the factors I suspected were echoed by others I asked. Other factors I hadn’t considered, that can be found mirrored in American films jockeying for Oscar nominations, also came to the fore.

The questions I typically asked were as follows:

At times, does the reputation, or lack thereof, of a director influence the selection?

At times, does politics, whether real or film, play a part?

At times, do films more likely to impress Oscar voters get selected over more artistic films?

Did you see (Title of film submitted by your country)?

If you saw it, did you like it?

Why do you think (Name of country) selected (Title of Film) Deserved it? Oscar-Friendliness? Both? Neither?

Here are some of the findings from Brazilians I asked, more nations will follow in the next part.


With regards to Brazil, this is the nation where I will have the widest range of opinions. Aside from being a dual citizen, a majority of my family lives in Brazil so I was able to receive the highest number of responses here also.

When The Hollywood Reporter wrote-up the announcement they correctly cited O Palhaço (The Clown) as a domestic box-office success. Over 1.4 million tickets sold. That’s accurate, as ticket sales are the measure (especially for domestic films) and in Brazil that’s a fairly high total. I take no issue at face value with sending the domestic box office champion as your nominee. There are stories like wins for domestic films in Spain and Norway that are most definitely positives. Hollywood proliferates globally and for indigenous cinemas to be successful at home is very important.

The complications of selecting the box-office champion of the year arise when you have mixed reactions to the film in general. First, I will recuse myself from weighing in on the film itself (O Palhaço) as I have yet to see it. However, I admit I was a bit surprised by this choice as I had yet to hear of it. I saw one Brazilian title this year, which I thought was great, and heard of another one. Both made a decent splash either on the festival circuit or in the international market. With regards to the plot when I read of it, it seemed like a less actually political selection, but did entertainment politics factor? What besides the box office could’ve influenced this selection?

So what did my family and friends say in response to my inquiries regarding O Palhaço? They start off about as negative as a film receiving such an honor can get: “My husband saw it and thought it was horrible! According to him the movie must’ve been picked for a lack of options!” The lack of options isn’t something that’s necessarily supportable by empirical evidence. In 2012 two films either solely produced or co-produced by Brazil appeared in Berlin, 5 films either solely produced or co-produced appeared in the Cannes programs and 2 either solely or co-produced appeared at Sundance, so there were other Brazilian films with festival pedigree. Not to mention the fact, that having eligible films doesn’t always lead to a submission, as was evidenced by Luxembourg passing.

As I got more and more comments, the initial reaction that people were “Sharply divided” proved true. However, in Brazil’s case one of my suppositions seems to have played out, and that’s the reputation of the director. With O Palhaço the director is lead actor Selton Melo. It’s a passion project, those with negative views of the film argue it’s a “commercial for him.” So box office appeal and the fact that a respected actor took on a project does buoy the Oscar hopes of this film, and even those who like Melo fell on the side of those less than enthused by the film, and some even underwhelmed by this particular turn. However, Melo’s status only seems to be growing in Brazil, as he is also taking on a Brazilian-produced HBO series.

The clout, or lack thereof, of some distributors within Brazil was also reported to me as a factor that could keep more deserving films from being considered. This seems not too foreign when anyone who pays attention to Oscar races here knows how much money is involved in campaigning, and how certain directors, producers, and studio heads become favorites. It was also indicated to me that candidacy for the Brazilian submission may not be a cheap thing to make yourself eligible for, which wouldn’t surprise me either, but that is an issue that filters down to the national level and is beyond the purview of the Academy or any foreign body. However, the fact remains that many would attribute most submissions as being decisions that disregard aesthetics and if the film also happens to be good it’s a bonus, but it’s a powerplay. One response pronounced all that quite explicitly and even concluded in English stating “It’s all about business!”

Perhaps the most intriguing response I got was the one that indicated it’d be impossible to remove politics entirely since you’re asking countries to submit films, and I will grant that. It’s practically impossible to expunge when other productions and/or world events will cause protests. The nation submitting likely consciously or unconsciously affects voters, even if its just that a certain viewer has more of an affinity with one national cinema or another. What the ultimate goal of this plan, that I admit will likely never, ever occur, is to encourage more risk from national film governing bodies. Perhaps that encouragement would lead to more aesthetically forward choices that will get rewarded by the votership, or better yet bring the film to new audiences.

Now, according to my idealistic designs, Brazil as a prior multiple-nominee would receive three submissions. If that were the case, perhaps they’d be so inspired to take a chance on one of the remaining selections on something a little more free of influence. To paraphrase John Lennon, I may be dreaming but I know I’m not alone in hoping something like that would occur.

Mini-Review Round-Up June 2012

I had quite a review drought to end 2011 so I think the remedy for this kind of post would be to have the post be cumulative monthly. Therefore, after each qualifying film a short write-up will be added to the monthly post. The mini-reviews will be used to discuss Netflix and other home video screenings. Theatrical releases will get full reviews.

For a guide to what scores mean go here.

Piranha 3DD

A film like Piranha 3DD always prompts the question: “Well, what did you expect?” Whether this question is asked in sincerity or sarcastically it is a valid one, as I always strive to judge a film on what it’s trying to be and whether or not it succeeds in that aim. Due to this fact, I have no problem giving disparate films the same grade without ever questioning whether one is better than the other. After all, if you think on it Jurassic Park and Citizen Kane might be two films you like, but no one will ever confuse them with regards to their aims.

So what did I expect from Piranha 3DD? It may be easier to explain what I didn’t expect first. I did not expect anything remotely like Piranha (1978). I didn’t expect to need to have seen the new incarnation of this series to follow this. I expected the film to be silly and strive to land in the so bad it’s good realm based on its premise. I did expect a passable horror story regardless of said fact. Considering that John Gulager was attached, and that I did like Feast, I had some hopes to see this film achieve these aims.

What unfolds instead is a film that you laugh at not with. It’s a film that wants badly to fall into an exploitation mold but it more frequently is an uneasy mix of attempts at such, mainly sex and star exploitation. Both aspects are so poorly handled the film more closely resembles a softcore porn/vanity press hybrid. Yes, the silly, poorly-animated piranha take a backseat in this film to implants, David Hasselhoff and sorry, lazy comedy, which works all too infrequently, especially considering some of the people they wrangled into being in this thing.

Speaking of the people they got in this thing: Christopher Lloyd deserves a medal for being the only redeeming quality this sorry excuse for a film has. In all honesty they would’ve been better served turning the camera on him for 83 minutes and allowing him to improvise, with no rehearsals and no editing. Lloyd is a truly gifted actor and why he ends up in films of this ilk these days baffles me to no end.

What I was expecting, in all honesty, was not nearly as bad as I got. As silly and ill-conceived as the oh-so-thin plot is it also lacks focus. It contains no flair or verve that gives me any cause to forgive it its sins. The key to good exploitation is that the subject matter is the only thing being exploited. This film also exploits its audience, and I was actually very surprised and disappointed that it was the worst thing I’ve seen this year to date.


Beautiful Wave

I quipped, with a lack of anything of real significance to say, after having seen Beautiful Wave that it was “neither beautiful nor a wave” in my best Linda Richman voice. However, the Mike Myers character-inspired jab may have been the most succinct way to put it. This is a film which seems like an excuse for a surfing film. I haven’t seen every surfing film, but I honestly can’t remember it being almost incidental to the story, as it is here.

Sadly, the protagonist is also rather incidental. Very little of her conflict is externalized and ultimately the film feels like it’s about everyone around her rather than her. I’d critique the pace if there was any discernible pace to criticize. The film telegraphs its climax and denouement very early on making much of the film transient.

As you can tell the issues are mainly structural but there are a few decent to good scenes along the way. I can’t fault the performances of the three main players Aimee Teegarden, Patricia Richardson and Lance Henriksen. It’s just so inconsequential.

Why she’s jettisoned to California just occurs as this forced inciting incident, which really has no impetus aside from the narrative necessity placed upon it by the makers. Somewhere in its running time there’s a perfectly innocuous, enjoyable albeit nebulous short film, but it really ought not be a feature. This is essentially Soul Surfer almost entirely devoid of pathos.


I’m Not Jesus Mommy

Here’s another one of those movies you just happen upon and then you look into it and you realize that the idea is so outlandish, and could end up being either brilliant or a disaster, and based on its premise that you absolutely have to see it.

Perhaps what’s most unfortunate about the film is that both in its title and in its synopsis it divulges what is truly revealed in the third act, however, intimations to the fact in question are made well before the revelation.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about this film is despite a rather flat, blank performance by its lead actress and clearly video cinematography is that it has a strong first act. It mixes in some themes that I don’t necessarily expect to see touched upon at all and rather well. Then there’s a time jump, now this is where the excessive amount of restraint comes into the mix, where the plot really begins plodding. There’s some sort of plague about, the world is a really crazed place. However, vague allusions as to why are all that’s ever made. Similarly, visual motifs come into play that are also unclear, but the real issue is that the near cessation of incident.

Unlike some who have seen it, I have no issue with the fact that this film handles what is potentially such a polemic, sacrilegious premise with utmost seriousness of tone. The issue seems to stem from, at least in part, a bit of reticence to fully commit and it’s a shame.

The music, the lack of dialogue and the edit set the stage but there’s virtually no show upon it. I would see another work by Vaughan but what is most aggravating here is that it seems there was the courage and commitment to take a potentially ludicrous idea, treat it seriously and make it a film. However, the follow-through to make the film as shocking and effective as it could be doesn’t seem to be there. The film does become somewhat memorable for the previously alluded to fact but that’s rather dubious.



This is a film that has a formula shared by quite a few films in the horror genre: A town with a scarred past that comes back to haunt it anew. However, what this film attempts to is to double said formula. There is the now local-legend of a mass murder in a house but that fuses with a completely fictitious legend about the birth of cinema that borrows more than liberally from a few other films. I certainly cannot knock this film on the ambition front. However, where it does falter are in a few ways: first, the leads are very much in the dark about the famous case, which is an issue. We the audience don’t know the information and need it, but it seems unrealistic that most know nothing or care nothing about it. Second, I appreciate the attempted misdirection, however, the decisions about the paths the leads take also somewhat derails the story. Next, there’s a bit of inconsistency in the divulging of information. In certain cases it’s overly-expository and certain people know too much, yet in others certain aspects keep a little mystery. It’s a difficult balancing act, but it’s botched here I feel. Lastly, the ending does offer a resolution but it’s another one of those unsatisfactory shock cuts that puts a damper on the film when it had grown, just a bit in the last third.

The elements for Playback are all there for it to work in hindsight but they’re either mismatched or mishandled in some way such that the center doesn’t hold.


Found Memories

This film is a perfect example of a translated title that doesn’t quite do the film in question justice. If you were to translate the Brazilian title of Found Memories literally it would be Stories That Only Exist When Remembered. Granted that is more of a mouthful but it gives you a better sense of the kind of film you’re getting I feel, because as I watched the film I realized there was perhaps one of the more subtle Magical Realism tales I’d seen, one with with extreme emphasis on the the realism. Yes, there is a rather mundane, repetitious nature to certain scenes but the equation is skewed as the film progresses by a newcomer. The framing of many shots is wonderfully precise and as the story unfolds you are taken in both by the stories being told by the characters themselves as well as the ones being told about them by the film, which in many cases are parallel but not identical. Found Memories is a tremendously subtle, yet at times rapturous, look at small town life in a Brazilian town that should still be able to play anywhere and I highly recommend it.


A Nation’s Emblematic Film: Brazil

Now, I cannot for a second claim that my viewing of all of Brazil’s significant films in the history of the nation’s cinema is complete. However, making a watch list for myself is just one motivation for writing this piece. The others are: one, there are likely many coming across this piece who couldn’t name a handful of Brazilian films. Second, it’s really about thinking of films and culture in a different way. This really isn’t about naming what is the greatest Brazilian film of all-time, or any other nation that this series might focus on, but rather to open the discussion on a nation-by-nation basis about indigenous cinemas and cultural portraiture. If I had one film, and one film only, to show someone to say “This is Brazil and what you need to understand about it” what film would open that dialogue best, if not address all those points?

This idea came to me after a recent viewing of Vidas Secas (Barren Lives). I’m not sure that film is the representative choice but it gave me the idea, and made me think “At least I’ve seen this film now and my citizenship won’t be revoked.” What struck me as particularly Brazilian in the film was not only its locale (Brazil, like all large nations, can be quite regional but there’s seemingly something universally Brazilian about the northeast) but also the theme of persevering through hardships in that film.

Universal themes such as the ones mentioned above are just one of the watermarks of these films that can be discussed, aside from more specific traits like the migrant population and the era in the nation’s history. While the themes touched upon in the film are very Brazilian, it is a tale of being humbled, a thoughtful drama, which doesn’t have the joie de vivre that is so common in Brazil, and many other Latin nations, in spite of circumstances. Does that mean Vidas Secas can’t be the emblematic film? No, but others are worth considering, this one is still alive.

Films like Kiss of the Spider Woman, or any other foreign production, are not in the running. That specific example was clearly shot in Brazil by a naturalized Brazilian director but the way the script was written it could’ve been any authoritarian Latin American state in the 1980s, locality wasn’t the point of the film.

Fernando Ramos da Silva in Pixote, A Lei dos Mais Fraco (HB Filmes)

Another Babenco film Pixote is a better example thematically. However, once you factor in the unfortunate history the film has (A child of the favelas, Fernando Ramos da Silva [pictured above] was cast for authenticity, but was murdered at the age of 18, as he went back to live where he always had) makes choosing this film a bit sensationalistic and tabloid, not that I’m looking to have my selection propagandize, but the film and the aftermath are inextricable to me. Such that any symbolic honor not based solely on cinematic merit is difficult to bestow upon it. I could, and still may, write a whole other piece about the ethics of hiring impoverished amateur children as actors. This case, and that of Slumdog Millionaire, illustrate a cruel injustice in my mind: the bottom line is there are professional actors of all ages everywhere, if you do not want to be beholden to that child after the film, as you should be, hire one of them. If you hire an amateur child from substandard living conditions you should, as Walter Salles did for Vinícius de Oliveira in Central Station, help improve their station in life. At that point you truly are picking a lottery winner rather than just casting a role.

Vinícius de Oliveira and Fernanda Montenegro in Central Station (Sony Pictures Classics)

What of Central Station then? Central Station made quite a bit of money in the US. It was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Actress. Brazil has more a pedigree on the high-end of world cinema than most would expect. What separates Brazil from most is the consistency of product and, of course, due to the dictatorship there was censorship and artists had to fend for themselves. Now, the government is more active in promoting the arts, the major studios have a presence in the country and so forth. Yet, the fact that Brazil has been up for the Oscar, is the only Latin American nation to win the Palme d’Or (O Pagador de Promessas) and has also scored at Berlin (Elite Squad) is not what is going to dictate the most Brazilian film. Those are just indicators of quality.

Therefore, what’s the quality of Central Station? It has memorable source music, it’s a heart-wrenching drama, it tells a tale of a letter-writer and poor illiterate boy. It crosses that divide and it check off a lot of the qualities I’m looking for in a film representative of Brazil. Not to mention that it’s named after the largest train station in the country, therefore it’s a metaphor for the country and the letter-writer hears many stories from people of all walks of life that are indicative of the country and its people. The blend that exists.

José Mojica Marin in À Meia-Noite Levarei a Sua Alma (Anchor Bay)

I think perhaps what is most important about addressing this question is deciding why certain films, or series of films, are being selected. It truly becomes a bit existential for me (and a tad corny) because the search is where the value is. Take for example the Coffin Joe films, after having seen a box set of his works I watched the documentary about him. In that film his frequent screenwriter made a very astute observation, which is that José Mojica Marins did something he thought was impossible: he created a Brazilian horror personage. All the other archetypes are decidedly American or European but this blend of religion, existentialism, patriarchy, propagation and misogyny is the perfect Brazilian horror type. In one singular, virtually indestructible entity Marins encapsulates and exaggerates virtually every possible aspect of the male psyche in Brazil and twists it to horrific effect. Does this make his films the most Brazilian? It’s not entirely out of the question. It certainly makes his films worth mentioning here, but hearkening back to how I introduced this question; no, I wouldn’t show someone Coffin Joe and say “This is Brazil.” I would show them Coffin Joe and say “This is horror” though.

A Opera do Malandro (The Samuel Goldwyn Company)

Now, with regards to the aforementioned regional aspect to the country, I and most my family have our roots set in Rio de Janeiro, though we’ve since scattered quite a bit. With that in mind, most of us recognize and appreciate the musical diversity of the country, but our affections are usually for Samba and MPB (Música Popular Brasileiro) above all else. Few artists represent these genres and Brazil as well as Chico Buarque. That brings me to A Opera do Malandro, which is a musical based on an album he wrote. It wasn’t Buarque’s only foray into musical entertainment, he and many stars wrote a version of the Town Musicians of Bremen (‘Os Saltimbancos’) that is a standard. Yet, here his tale is a cinematic adaptation, period piece, a sort of Brazilian noir, which represents a kind of Brazilian, (the Malandro), akin to but nor quite a wise guy back in a similar era here. So it doesn’t quite pass the universality test.

Alexandre Rodrigues in Cidade de Deus (Miramax)

Perhaps, the most accomplished work in the history of Brazilian cinema is City of God. This is a film that was a hit domestically as well as internationally, it earned box office success and critical acclaim. When writing about it I have likened it to the great films in history. Again this selection isn’t about greatness but representativeness. So while this film and the Tropa de Elite (Elite Squad) movies are great dramatizations of societal problems and brilliantly map out “How’d things get this way?” they don’t paint a portrait of all of Brazil, which I’ll admit is hard to do, but as endemic as corruption in police and politics is, and as large as trafficking and crime syndicates in favelas have been, they are localized stories cinematically. So we move on to other choices.

Marepessa Dawn and Breno Mello in Orfeu Negro (Janus Films)

Perhaps, some symbolic stories are the last two that need to be discussed: Orfeu Negro (Black Orpheus) and Dona Flor e Seus Dois Maridos (Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands). Now, the former has had international success. However, it is a co-production with France, which I could even let slide but the fact of the matter is its the transposition of a Greek myth to (at the time) modern day Rio. Therefore, as Brazilian as it is with Carnaval and Samba Schools, it’s still rather European too. As for Dona Flor, its incorporation of Magical Realism and its colonial/post-colonial commentary made indirectly through her husbands and the fact that it’s based on a novel by one of Brazil’s greatest authors (Jorge Amado) make it a great candidate. However, Amado is Amado. As much of the director’s voice as can be added is but if you know anything about his work any of them bear his mark a bit too much to be truly emblematic of a nation in the encompassing sense I’m trying to choose said film within, which rules out any films based on Nelson Rodrigues‘ plays.

Leonardo Villar in O Pagador de Promessas (Lionex Films Inc)

So even as I began to outline and write this piece I realized there are big films from Brazil that I have not seen. At least two would be candidates for this honor The Given Word (The Given Word) and Menino de Engenho (Plantation Boy). There are likely others as well but those two are likely the ones with a universal quality combined with indigenous uniqueness that would qualify it here. For now, based on what I’ve see it’s Central Station, but I’m quite eager to continue searching and if you have any suggestions yourself please feel free to comment below!

My Year in Film: 1987

So here’s another retroactive list from me. I think it’s safer to assume that this one is more tinged with nostalgia than the 1994 one. In this case, I believe a majority of the films included are ones I saw during or shortly after the year for the most part. Well, in terms of the American releases. Now, in 1987 I was five and six years old, meaning I was just starting my schooling.

I believe most of the films I saw were video or HBO selections. I specified American films above because there are some great foreign titles, that need no disclaimer, which I discovered later on that were released in this year. As for the disclaimer: you see what my relative age was when the films came out or when I got to see them, therefore that is your grain of salt. Again, as I did before, I will stress that the way I assemble this list is usually based on its noteworthiness in my estimation and not necessarily its impeachable quality. However, I will discuss that a bit with each film that’s included.

One thing that’s interesting to note is that this post serves a function as a replacement (and possible prelude) to a series I wanted to do this year. If you take 25 years of age as the youngest a film can be to be considered a classic then the film class of 1987 would be eligible this year. It’s interesting to examine what holds up and what doesn’t after all that time.

Some personal entertainment-related milestones for the year include: my favorite thing in the world was ALF (such that I had a lunch box and much more) and if memory serves I was a year away from my first theater-going experience. For I seem to recall that being Bambi and per the IMDb the only re-release I would have memory of occurred in 1988. Also, I don’t think I watched the Super Bowl for another few years but I knew that the Giants had won.

Without further ado, the list, which is in no particular order:

1. Blind Date

Blind Date (TriStar Films)

Of the 80s movies that made Kim Basinger a star, and for a time one of my favorite actresses, I’m not sure I like this more than something like My Stepmother is an Alien, however, both that and this are so hazy in my memory I can’t honestly tell how they hold up, but I remember adoring them at the time and it’s definitely a marker for the year.

2. Amazing Grace and Chuck

Amazing Grace and Chuck (TriStar Pictures)

In a paper I wrote about the 1980s I discussed this film at great length. It was a truncated repost on this site that I’ll start over, however, suffice it to say I think there are few films that are as resoundingly a product of their times than this is. I discovered it much later and love it.

3. Innerspace

Innerspace (Warner Bros.)

I’m not sure it’s possible to chronicle a year in 1980s without including a Joe Dante film. As is the case with a lot of films on this list I haven’t seen them in a while but I think this film, for quite some time, has been overlooked and dismissed unjustly.

4. Roxanne

Roxanne (Columbia Pictures)

This is one of Steve Martin’s best balancing acts between his comedic and dramatic talents. His put-down monologue is fantastic and I still quote: “It must be great to wake up in the morning and smell the coffee…in Brazil” often.

5. The Lost Boys

The Lost Boys (Warner Bros.)

I was a late-comer to the horror genre so I didn’t discover this film until later on. And as if to underline my point, few and far between are those who dislike this film, therefore when I can defend Joel Schumacher I do. You can knock some of his films but not all, not even close.

6. The Monster Squad

The Monster Squad (TriStar Pictures)

The rise to cult status of The Monster Squad is truly amazing and practically unprecedented and I’m a small part of the years later surge in its popularity. I saw it many years after its release on VHS and loved it. I now have it on DVD and I get why it’s adored and also why it flew under the radar in its initial release.

7. The Curse

The Curse (Trans World Entertainment)

As I’ve mentioned previously, few films exemplify the alchemy of horror better than this film. It’s got a lot going against it but it still works very, very well.

8. Hellraiser

Hellraiser (New World Pictures)

I was first introduced to this film in a horror class I took in college. It just keeps getting better with age like a fine wine. It also stands as one of two films that have gotten me literarily smitten with its writer, in this case Clive Barker. I immediately started chasing down his books after seeing this and Candyman in the class.

9. Baby Boom

Baby Boom (United Artists)

Here’s another I’ll admit is cloudy but I do remember watching it quite a bit on HBO back in the day, and I believe that many of the Diane Keaton films I saw were partially a result of this film. Not to mention that as silly as it may be it is also a sign of the times. Women still had some strides that needed making in terms of equality, and this was one of the films and/or shows that was broaching that subject. Perhaps, not the best or most serious but noteworthy nonetheless.

10. Hope and Glory

Hope and Glory (Columbia Pictures)

This is another film I discovered later on and it is also a film that is exponentially better on the big screen. I discovered it on video. I was fortunate enough to see it introduced by John Boorman at BAM Rose Cinemas in Brooklyn. The viewing was very memorable but I’ll be eternally thankful for the response he gave my question about casting a young lead. It helped me a great deal in preparing for an upcoming production.

11. Planes, Trains & Automobiles

Planes, Trains & Automobiles (Paramount)

This one is a favorite for so many. As I often say John Hughes created innumerable new templates for story that were used in film and television alike. This one is no exception, while many avoid the twist in the tale the framework has been re-used several times as has The Breakfast Club, Ferris Beuller’s Day Off, Sixteen Candles and so on.

12. Au Revoir Les Enfants

Au revoir les enfants (Orion Classics)

I can’t say I’m a completist with his work but I love Louis Malle. In this film he tells a very personal story and you can feel that throughout the film it’s really its most remarkable quality.

13. Empire of the Sun

Empire of the Sun (Warner Bros.)

I saw this film many years after its release. I saw it sometime in the summer of 2001. I remember the date specifically because after multiple viewings my opinion of Artificial Intelligence: A. I. had solidified and having had a Spielberg class and hearing things like “this is his most European film” but not being able to see it I was very anxious. Being properly prepared for it in all regards it blew me away. I love it.

14. Wall Street

Wall Street (20th Century Fox)

This film I remember viewing in a high school economics class the first time around. Now there was a slightly more cynical, realistic approach that the teacher employed when discussing it, and he had his motives for showing it but not only was it a victory for me against an attempt pedagogical indoctrination, but I still really enjoyed the film a great deal. That is not surprising as it was during Oliver Stone’s heyday.

15. Throw Momma from the Train

Throw Momma From the Train (Orion)

This is another one I’m far removed from seeing but the premise is outlandish and it’s made to work thanks to the casting of Momma, but then you also have Billy Crystal and Danny Devito working together, so my childish sense of humor (which for the most part remains in tact) adores it.

16. Overboard

Overboard (MGM/UA)

Amnesia it seems was big in the 80s, at least I think it was I can’t remember (I’m so sorry). It was an oft-used theme then it seems but this was the best take. There aren’t many great tandems anymore but this one was a match made in cinematic heaven regardless of material and cheesy posters.

17. The Grand Highway

The Grand Highway (Miramax)

This is a film I discovered quite some time later. I think it’s likely the most overlooked of them all. This film did get a US remake, which I discuss here. I think this is a really great film that more people should see. I wrote about the remake of this film and will re-post that series here.

18. Um Trem Para As Estrelas

Um Trem Para As Estrelas (FilmDallas Pictures)

Another staple on these lists, when I can find one, will be a Brazilian film. This was a pivotal time in Brazil politically as the country was making the always difficult transition from a dictatorial government to a democracy. That serves as the backdrop for this coming of age tale. The film also portraits Brazil’s vibrant pop music scene of the era with many performances by popular artists included. I remember I rented this from Movies Unlimited back when they had a physical location, and while deliberate in pacing I enjoyed it a great deal.

19. Mio in the Land of Faraway

Mio in the Land of Faraway (Miramax)

A lot of funny things and parallels come to mind when there’s mention of this film. First, this seems to be my obligatory Christopher Lee title. Second, here’s Christian Bale’s second appearance on this list, in his neophyte, pre-bad press phase. It’s also strange in that it’s an all English-speaking cast enacting a foreign fairytale, similar to the The Neverending Story with much less press in the US. This one also only was released in the US in 1988. I really do like this film for the narrative, the lead performances, and because it’s good cheese. I can’t argue there’s none here.

20. Pelle the Conqueror

Pelle the Conqueror (Miramax)

In my retroactive BAM days I placed this film as an ’87 release even though it made its splash globally the following year, seeing as how this list is in retrospect I’ll place it here. Not only is this a great film wherein Bille August burst on to the scene but it’s yet another great performance in the career of Max von Sydow. It’s also an incredibly moving film.

21. In a Glass Cage

In a Glass Cage (Cinevista)

If there was ever a director to which the term no-holds-barred applied without question it’s Augusti Villaronga. There are likely synopses that give away only what is necessary to discuss the film, I’d rather spoil nothing about this film except to say this film is not for the faint of heart or the queasy. Even if you’ve seen many films, few are this dark and disturbing. It relishes in making you uncomfortable. It’s likely not a film you’d want to see more than once but perhaps what’s most effective is that it pushes your buttons regardless of what’s happening.

22. Bad

Bad (Epic Records)

Two things straight off the bat: If I could’ve included Madonna I would have but “Open Your Heart” as a video came out in December 1986. As for what a music video is doing on this list, I had a short film in my 94 list and I did write (not yet reposted here) after Jackson’s passing about how his videos were more cinematic than most and in the 80s they were more story-based in general. It may not be quite the production that Thriller is but there’s no bothersome disclaimer at the front and this one was directed by Martin Scorsese so it has more than enough merit to it.

23. La Bamba

La Bamba (Columbia Pictures)

I was, as were many of my classmates, quite literally obsessed with this movie and Richie Valens for quite a long time after it came out.

24. Ernest Goes to Camp

Ernest Goes to Camp (Buena Vista Pictures)

Writing a blurb for a Ernest movie is simple: either you like this character of the late Jim Varney or you don’t. I always liked him even though I saw this film later on.

25. The Garbage Pail Kids Movie

The Garbage Pail Kids Movie (Atlantic Releasing Corporation)

Here’s a film that will fall under the memorable category. I fall neither in the cult following of this movie nor the rabid hatred thereof, but I have seen it twice and do recall it was the quest of a friend of mine’s in junior high to obtain this film. It may well have been the seed for my loathing of the concept of something being out of print.

26. Masters of the Universe

Masters of the Universe (The Cannon Group)

Another big deal for me when I was young was He-Man. More so the animated series than this film. Now, I loved it at the time but I have since revisited most, if not all of the series, and the fish out of water approach to the movie while amusing is certainly not why we kids adored the show. It was Eternia and the characters and landscape there. It certainly wasn’t as the quote at the bottom of this poster states the Star Wars of the 80s, I think that was still Star Wars.

27. Dennis the Menace Dinosaur Hunter

Dennis the Menace Dinosaur Hunter (LBS Communications)

There are some things I really loved as a kid that I would come very close to forgetting and then through some nearly miraculous happenstance be reminded of in a very powerful way and my affection would be rekindled. The more notable cases are musical but this film fits that bill. It was a TV project that I know I’ve seen many times but each after nearly having forgotten it existed. I liked, and still do like, Dennis the Menace as a character and I was obsessed with dinosaurs so this film is one I’d naturally gravitate to.

28. Flowers in the Attic

Flowers in the Attic (New World Pictures)

Here’s one that I nearly forgot about as I used the IMDb to jog my memory and somehow I hadn’t voted on this one though I viewed it when I was a rather anal-retentive voter. I saw this film later on and it’s definitely a cult favorite. You either love it or loathe it but perhaps what’s most notable for me is that after having seen it I considered reading V.C. Andrews but when I discovered the author’s name had become and overly-exploited brand name posthumously, I shied away. Perhaps, with an even better interwebs than ever before, I’ll look into her again and see what she actually wrote and what is just attributed to the name.

Thus concludes my journey through 1987 what year I’ll revisit next I know not but may it be as memorable as the first two.

Short Film Saturday- O Branco (The White)

I first saw this film a long while ago on a site called Atom Films, now It was likely the best film I saw when I did frequent it. It’s a simple and beautiful film that tells a wonderful tale of first love and exploits many filmic elements well.

I was fortunate to find this film again after so long although in three parts. With all of them posted below it should flow well enough.

In Defense of: Dubbing


It is quite easy to discuss what the cons of dubbing are. Many of us whether we consider ourselves to be filmsnobs or not agree with most if not all of them. Yet, I will within these paragraphs play devil’s advocate. To be completely frank, I’m doing more than that. I am taking a global view in this piece so while you will read me vehemently explain and defend dubbing as a necessity (in some cases, and an artform when done well) I do prefer to watch a film, in which I do not know the language, subtitled.

So very quickly here is the east part where we can agree on are the cons of dubbing:


When watching a film dubbed you are automatically submitting to a film wherein you are not witnessing the original vision of the director. The actors choices are re-interepreted as is his text. The edit is compromised in terms of intonation and inflection. The director’s choices are muted. A good dub will try and replicate as closely as it can what those choices are but a copy and a translation are not the same thing as hearing the original audio. Not to say that subtitles are impeachable. I know of at least two cases where edits tantamount to censorship occurred in subtitles making the theatrical release and the home video release quite different.

The biggest con for me, an American consumer who enjoys films from all around the world, is that many times in North American distribution dubbing is a “business decision.” This kind of decision is an attempt to broaden an audience which is niche to begin with and alienating the small but devoted groups of filmgoers who would watch subtitled fare (horror fans and the art house crowd to name two). Without wandering too much into the pro area the North American audience is not the base for which dubbing really is a functional, preferable alternative. We can pick and choose and those of us who will watch foreign films prefer subtitles.

When a film is dubbed suspension of disbelief becomes a major concern. Subtitles do add an artifice but it’s just relaying what is being said. You still hear it as intended. When a film is dubbed there is more artifice to it, it’s something you’re conscious of which is jarring you’re simultaneously distracted by detaching the voice from the actor and giving them a pass and gauging the abilities of the voice over artist. Then there’s the obvious that depending on what language the original was recorded in sync can be very difficult to accomplish at times, or in the worst cases completely disregarded.

And needless to say I have rarely if ever seen English dubbing that was palatable.


Charles Emmanuel in the studio for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Charles Emmanuel/Warner Bros.)

There is a technique to matching sync on dialogue. With care, performance and at times searching for synonyms or synonymous sentences it can be accomplished even when the languages in question have a large gulf between them.

So there’s technique, that’s fine, most would even be willing to grant that if they’ve seen halfway decent dubbing, however, too much dubbing experience is in Japanese monster movies of the 50s and 60s. There is, however, an art to it as well. Now I come to these conclusions because I speak two languages fluently (English and Portuguese) therefore if I am already familiar with material I can and have examined it dubbed and found some of them enjoyable. The first spark I had when I was about 13 I think and I saw Home Alone in Brazil and was rather impressed by how natural it managed to seem.

It was my most recent trip to Brazil that really got me thinking about dubbing more and differently. Just prior I had started to think of it because all of a sudden I did a “Where are They Now?” kind of search, the kind the internet seems specifically designed for and discovered that one actor who’s work I had enjoyed had taken to dubbing as he came of age and transitioned from being a child actor mostly on screen to mostly voice over work.

When in Brazil though I did some more watching and thinking. First, as I would often peruse the local showtimes seeking something to see (I ended up only seeing Harry Potter 7.2 there) I noticed things. For example, there was only one showing I could find in Rio for Winnie the Pooh that was subtitled. The reason is target audience. Little kids can’t read or very well so it’s easier for them to watch and comprehend a film from another country dubbed than it is subtitled. With most of the cinematic product around the world being American young people make it a necessity the world over.

However, children’s films and children as audience members only make up a small portion of the global box office Hollywood is so eager to conquer. The other reality dubbing addresses is that many countries throughout the world have lower than average literacy rate, thus subtitles present an issue. Many of the films coming out of Hollywood are easy enough to follow just a bit of assistance is needed to make it accessible to that many more people. Dubbing bridges that gap too.

So there’s a duality of purpose. The studios want a more impressive international gross and people the world round need entertainment. So its functionality is very clear. Especially when you consider the fact that the need for dubbing creates jobs for actors, recordists, editors and so on the world round in nations whose entertainment industries may not be as robust.

However, I needed to test the potential for artistry again. Being a kid seeing Home Alone, which I knew and still know quite well, opened the window in my mind allowing the possibility that seeing a dubbed film could be beyond tolerable but even enjoyable. However, the more we watch the more jaded we become. The more we study the less impressed we end to be. A new test case was needed. Again, Harry Potter fit the bill.

I must say that I did see The Deathly Hallows Part 2 subtitled, as it was a new film to me and I wanted to realize it fully. Therefore, considering it was the hot film series of the moment it was easy enough to find both on sale and readily available at people’s homes. My test case was Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, in part because the “Where Are They Now?” actor (Charles Emmanuel) who I’d re-discovered as a dubbist played Ron Weasley in all eight films.

The first thing that struck me was how much better I knew the film than I thought. I knew it quite well indeed enough that I noticed the nuanced changes in language, syntax, intonation, inflection and so on that were made to make the film register as more natural in the language spoken. I reiterate that I must see a film many times before I can submit to seeing it dubbed but it is a masterfully well done job. I even managed to get the sense from it how one can become accustomed to and prefer the dubbed version when that’s all they’ve ever know, which is typically the case with animation. Only studio and network-based international networks show American programming mostly subtitled there.

So that was a revelation and then came another most recently and unexpectedly. I actuality this piece, though I have long pondered it would likely not exist without the following story. The reason that is so is that it’s all well and good to wax philosophical about the hypothetical (to the inexperienced) benefits of dubbing especially when most of them aren’t aesthetic but it’s another to get some insight into how two actors, each of whom portray the same character viewed their dubbing experience.

Dylan Riley Snyder

While on Twitter I saw a tweet from Dylan Riley Snyder (an actor whom you may know from either Disney XD’s Kickin’ It or Todd Solondz’s Life During Wartime) the link was a YouTube clip of scenes from Kickin’ It dubbed into Portuguese, the Brazilian version. I, of course, watched it and rather enjoyed it and was able to laugh at some of the same bits in the same way that I had in English.

The clips were uploaded to the dubbist’s personal Youtube but as of yet Snyder had not been able to discern if he had a Twitter account. After a quick search I was able to find it and relay it. So there I had discovered that the actor originating the role, to borrow the stage term, had heard the dubbist’s work and approved.

I was then further surprised by the ability to get insight into the other more unknown aspect of it, the voice over artist’s thoughts on his craft, his role and responsibilities. Bruno Dias had written a blog post and wanted a version translated to English so that Snyder could read it.

What I expected the post to be and what it was were two completely different things. I expected a cordial, complimentary, anecdotal re-telling of their interaction. What was surprising was the preface and the absolute sincerity and clarity with which Bruno Dias described his adopted and beloved form of acting and also the parallels drawn, respect felt for and connection he made with the actor whose work he is interpreting.

It is and always will be a much better explanation of how dubbing can be an artform than I can ever write so I suggest you read it. If one treats their work behind the microphone with the commitment and dedication that an actor onscreen and respects their interpretee’s process and interpretation they will be successful and yes it will be artful.

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.