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.

Once Upon a Time in the 80s: Sociopolitical Overview (Part 2 of 17)

Photo Credit: Peter Turnley/Corbis, The epitome of hope in the 80s: The fall of the Berlin Wall

When we think of the 90s sociopolitically you can almost draw a parallel to the kind of films that were produced. With Clinton in office the stock market more than doubled it was prosperity galore and yet there was a generation (Generation X followed by Y, how original) that could care less. There were hardly any films that reflected the times we were in because that would be bourgeois, no one really cared they had money in their pocket. Yet there was also nothing to escape unless you count the laughable Lewinsky affair, so film stagnated aside from the occasional blip here and there.

While the 80s were not like the 60s in that there was an issue constantly looming over everyone like the Vietnam War. There were several crucial events in America’s history. Films are the products of our society and the people writing those films for the most part came of age in the 60s and thus, had a higher social consciousness than those who grew up in the culturally devoid 70s.

Being children of the 60s coupled with the fact that escapist family-oriented cinema was in demand for a great part of the decade lead to many of these films having a lot of pie-in-the-sky idealism in them.
The 80s socially and politically were a mess. There was always something. New York was a crime-ridden dirty hole, which is reflected in Ghostbusters, and to some extent Trading Places. At the beginning of the decade there was the hostage crisis and the decade ended with the beginning of the communist collapse. While there were many crises and negative events there was a national sentiment in the nation and a presentiment that gave people a feeling that we could change things, amid all the excesses of the ‘me generation’ there was Hands Across America, Farm Aid and Artists for Africa which were movements by musicians that we could change the world and films like Amazing Grace and Chuck reflect that sentiment.

It was undoubtedly a turbulent time but there was a wind of change in the air. Reagan’s short-sightedness in his term is paralleled by the studio heads. Reagan wanted to give the taxpayers a break immediately and it hurt in the long run while the studios wanted money immediately and slowly the quality of films they were producing would dwindle. Thankfully, the quality did keep coming out until the end of the decade. The political conditions were all aligned for good, even great films to be made. Great films never come out in abundance when the nation is affluent. Pre-packaged hit-me films do, the 80s were a great time to grow up in because you probably weren’t aware of all that was going on around you. Yet I do recall seeing the possibility for change and seeing that something good can occur in this world and I saw it plastered across a large silver screen every weekend.

Note: This is a recapitulation of a paper I wrote in film school. It will be published here in installments. This is part two you can read part one here.