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 Anna Muylaert – Mãe Só Há Uma AKA Don’t Call Me Son (2016)
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.
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 Flávio Moreira, Leon Hirszman, Rubens Maia & Luiz Rosemberg Filho – América do Sexo (1969)
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 Gabriel Mascaro – Boi Neon AKA Neon Bull (2015)
Clara, a 65 year old widow and retired music critic, was born into a wealthy and traditional family in Recife, Brazil. She is the last resident of the Aquarius, an original two-story building, built in the 1940s, in the upper-class, seaside Boa Viagem Avenue, Recife. All the neighboring apartments have already been acquired by a company which has other plans for that plot. Clara has pledged to only leave her place upon her death, and will engage in a cold war of sorts with the company. This tension both disturbs Clara and gives her that edge on her daily routine. It also gets her thinking about her loved ones, her past and her future. Continue reading Kleber Mendonça Filho – Aquarius (2016)
Documentary about Brazilian history, from 1945 until the 70s, focusing on president Juscelino Kubitschek, his political rise, his philosophy of economical development, his gigantic project of constructing a new capital city for the country, Brasília, in the middle of the jungle, and his last years, after the military takeover, when he was deprived of his political rights and went into a temporary exile. Continue reading Silvio Tendler – Os Anos JK – Uma Trajetoria Politica AKA The JK Years – A Political History (1980)
Iremar works at the “Vaquejadas”, a rodeo in the North East of Brazil where two men on horseback try bring down a bull by grabbing its tail. It’s dusty and back-breaking work, but Iremar is a natural vaqueiro feeding, prepping and taking care of the bulls. Home is the truck used to transport the animals from show to show which he shares with his coworkers; Galega, an exotic dancer, truck driver and mother to her spirited and cheeky daughter Cacá, and Zé, his rotund compadre in the bull pen. Together they form a makeshift but close-knit family. But Brazil and the Northeast are changing and the region’s booming clothing industry has stirred new ambitions in Iremar. Swinging in his hammock in the back of the truck, his head is filled with dreams of pattern cutting, sequins and exquisite fabrics as he mentally assembles his latest sexy fashion designs. Continue reading Gabriel Mascaro – Boi neon AKA Neon Bull (2015)
Kiss Of The Spider Woman takes place in an un-named, fascist country in South America. It is, essentially, a two-actor drama featuring two men, of vastly different demeanors and ideologies, who share the same cell in a brutal prison. Louis Molina (William Hurt) is a flamboyant homosexual window dresser who is imprisoned for corrupting a minor. His cellmate is Valentin Arregui (Raul Julia), a journalist jailed for his leftist political activities. To alleviate the day-to-day drudgery, Molina entertains Valentin by retelling the stories of his favorite movies. Continue reading Hector Babenco – Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985)