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 1 of 7)

Michel Joelsas in The Year My Parents Went on Vacation (City Lights Pictures)

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 yet another mini-festival.

O Ano em Que Meus Pais Sairam de Ferias (The Year My Parents Went on Vacation)


In the way pretty much only a Brazilian film can this film combines football (the global variety), politics and coming of age. A child’s parents are forced to leave the country in 1970, months before the World Cup, due to their opposition to the dictatorship. He is left with his grandparents but fate has other plans for him.

What develops from there is a very interesting and very steadily built drama. It is a testament to the Brazilian people. The story is literally told like a slice of life in which tenebrous things can be going on in the background and all around but life goes on and it still is for the most part fine. There obviously is some focus on the revolt but they are also seen through the eyes of a child who only wants for his parents to return.

The end of the film, which merges the World Cup final with a police raid and then the denouement with us seeing what becomes of Mauro, is also perfect. This was a reality that faced many Brazilians of all walks of life in this era. It is quite a good, unfiltered, unsentimental coming of age film and like most that are good it’s different and so are the circumstances.

Review- Fast Five

Vin Diesel and Paul Walker in Fast Five (Universal)

As I first discussed in my review of Rio I bring quite a bit of baggage to any American-made film dealing with Brazil and I will be analyzing certain aspects that escape the notice of the common viewer. Obviously, some of these things also come into play when discussing Fast Five and I will attempt to address those as swiftly as possible and address the film as a whole.

However, with this particular film the Brazilian-ness of it and how accurately that is portrayed is a more pervasive concern as it touches many aspects of the film from dialogue, plot, believability, characters, plot points, acting and the like more so than in the aforementioned film.

Some examples: Firstly, I applaud this film for its attempt to be sneaky foreign (like Hanna) and actually include a bit of dialogue in Portuguese and even subtitling certain scenes. Most of the acting in the film as a whole is just fine, however, the noticeable sore spots are created by those portraying Brazilians who are clearly not. Joaquim de Almeida plays a drug kingpin and the mark of the major heist in this film, he does a fine job but as I suspected when I looked up the cast he’s Portuguese not Brazilian. Very noticeably a fish out of water is American Michael Irby as his second hand man. Spaniard Elsa Pataky and Israeli Elsa Godot are quite convincing, the latter not so much in one particular scene due to her look more so than her interpretation. The best Portuguese is spoken by Jordana Brewster who speaks it rarely and I wasn’t even sure she knew any despite being born in Brazil.

Issues with the story with regards to it being set in Brazil are most prevalent in two incidents that I take issue with. So far as having a druglord who has the Military Police in his pocket and corruption, I can take that. It’s an acknowledged issue that’s been long combated, however, if you want to see a film about the PM and how a good man can go bad and see a rather realistic rendition thereof watch Elite Squad (Tropa de Elite). The issues are the first scene where the American forces lead by Dwayne Johnson go up into a favela, in very cinamtically clichéd fashion all the runners and criminals brandish their guns like a territorial pissing then Johnson shows his gun and they all back away. The problem there is that that would either lead to a standoff or a firefight, which is not infrequent. It’s a movie device that really doesn’t apply here. There’s a more realistic scene where he’s baited out into the open and surrounded.

The worst scene of the film is the apparent defeat. Here for some reason the American forces decide they should drive, seemingly unnecessarily, through the elevated and undulating streets of a favela and it sets up a ridiculous confrontation.

There is enough action to carry this film along and make it a decent ride. The villain although broadly drawn does have some decent moments. The characters in the film are many so not many are developed in all that much detail but you do get a sense of them and there is a good amount of comedy mixed in which keeps things light in spite of the bickering minorities device that is employed twice.

To give this film its just desserts there is a hand-to-hand combat scene between Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel that trumps anything that occurred in The Expendables and no uncomfortable undertones to boot.

Despite being incredibly outlandish in terms of what the heist is, how it’s pulled off and what the reactions of law enforcement are to it at several stages of the film it’s still an enjoyable enough flick. It’s a decent popcorn flick that actually got me in the theatre by adding the heist element to a franchise that had never interested me before. Also, plan your health break carefully and stay through the end credits for a tag teases a sequel.

As a coda, bear in mind that with the financial success of Rio and Fast Five, Brazil will likely be the go to international transplant destination for franchises everywhere. I think James Bond needs a vacation, don’t you?

6/10