Mario Peixoto – Limite AKA Limit (1931)

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An astonishing creation, Limite is the only feature by the Brazilian director and author Mário Peixoto, made when he was just twenty-two years old. Inspired by a haunting André Kertész photograph on the cover of a French magazine, this avant-garde silent master­piece centers on a man and two women lost at sea, their pasts unfolding through flashbacks propelled by the music of Erik Satie, Claude Debussy, Igor Stravinsky, and others. An early work of independent Latin American filmmaking, Limite was famously difficult to see for most of the twentieth century. It is a pioneering achievement that continues to captivate with its timeless visual poetry. Continue reading

Jorge Mautner – O Demiurgo AKA The Demiurge (1972)

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A colorful feature film that mixes exile with the figure of the poet Rimbaud and the feminist revolution. “It’s super-intellectual. A fable-musical-philosophical-chanchada”, Mautner says. He also affirms that the work focuses a lot on the longing for Brazil, on the will that the exiled had to return to their homeland. The idea came from conversations between the musician and his old father, “always talking about the pre-Socratics”, he recalls. Glauber Rocha states that “The Demiurge” is the best film “of” and “about” exile. Continue reading

Júlio Bressane – Garoto (2015)

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A girl, a boy, a murder, some great landscapes, the sound of wind. Like a young couple on the lam film shot by Straub/Huillet. It achieves a beauty few films can.

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Boy meets girl at the end of the world. Once again, Julio Bressane stages the beginning of life itself as a stylized and dysfunctional yet mysteriously minnellian dance. O Garoto, element of the collective project Telha brilhadora, that comprises also O prefeito by Bruno Safadi, O espelho by Rodrigo Lima and Origem do mundo by Moa Batsow, is a film that has at its core a mischievous insurgent sexual energy that bristles and sparks relentlessly poetic hybris. Those who are not familiar with Bressane’s work may be puzzled by the minimalistic approach and its reiterative patterns, but it is obvious that O Garoto (The Kid) is just a different kind of educaçao sentimental Continue reading

Anna Muylaert – Mãe Só Há Uma AKA Don’t Call Me Son (2016)

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Most films—especially taut, lower-budgeted indies—choose one theme or dramatic premise and run with it. Others cross-wire two potent and ostensibly unrelated ideas and bask in the sparks they generate.

The terrifically assured and engrossing Brazilian film “Don’t Call Me Son” is a great example of the latter breed. On the one hand, writer/director Anna Muylaert invites us to contemplate the fluidity of adolescent gender identity via the story of teenage boy who’s testing boundaries by drifting provocatively between male and female appearances. (If this sounds like a topic for a Gender Studies class, fear not: the film is a drama, not a lecture.) On the other hand, Muylaert also probes how much of who we are comes from family, since, additionally, her tale concerns kids who were removed from their biological parents at birth. Continue reading

Flávio Moreira, Leon Hirszman, Rubens Maia & Luiz Rosemberg Filho – América do Sexo (1969)

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Film in four segments: “Colagem”, “Balanço”, “Bandeira Zero” and “Sexta-Feira da Paixão, Sábado de Aleluia”, having in common a strongly allegorical and gross protest tone in the approach of its subjects.

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Acreditava-se àquela epoca que aliberação política deveria vir juntocom a liberação sexual. “Esporrarjatos de napalm”, a frase de PrataPalomares (André Faria Jr.)posteriormente repetida emCrônica de um industrial (LuizRosemberg Filho) simbolizavamais do que uma metáfora: oinstinto sexual vinha junto com opolítico, e a angústia surgia porque o gozo social era mais difícil do que o individual. No título do filme América” e “sexo”; e sua tentativa é justamente a de exorcizar sexualmente aquilo que não pode ser resolvido no Brasil de 1969, menos de seis meses depois da promulgação do AI-5, ou seja, a política. Continue reading

Gabriel Mascaro – Boi Neon AKA Neon Bull (2015)

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We tend to view sex as a private, forbidden theater that’s detached from the remainder of life, rather than the origin of our life that courses through other acts. Films reflect this sentiment, of course. In most cinema, sex scenes scan as movies onto themselves, cordoned off from the rest of the narratives, though Neon Bull offers a confident refutation to this literal-minded squeamishness. Everything in this film is sensual, understood to be a subsumed sex act, with actual sex serving as a contextualizing catharsis. Continue reading