Ruy Guerra – Os Cafajestes aka The Unscrupulous Ones (1962)

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A Brazilian masterpiece, fascinating, powerful and still contemporary, waiting to be (re)discovered by the world, 12 October 2006

The first thing you’ll remark when you see “Os Cafajestes” today (if you are lucky enough to find a copy of it) is how surprisingly modern, daring and mesmerizing it still is. The existential drama of 4 characters — two men (low-life scum Jandir, small-time playboy Vavá) and two women (used up Leda, provocative Vilma), who indulge in dangerous, deceitful games that include sex, photos, cars, beaches, drugs and blackmail — is amazingly contemporary in its visual style, boldness and acid criticism of amorality and egotism. That, combined with the virtuoso camera-work by Tony Rabatoni, the blazing summer whiteness of Cabo Frio beaches and dunes, the surprising turns in the plot, the edgy dialog and the non-linear treatment of sound vs image make this an unforgettable film, one of the most impressive directing debuts in the history of cinema (that’s not an overstatement), regrettably little known outside Brazil. Continue reading

Vladimir Carvalho – O País de São Saruê AKA The Land Of São Saruê (1971)

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Plot Outline: Documentary about a region in Northeast Brazil, situated in an area subject to severe drought, and the evolution of its economic activities.

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The Land Of São Saruê, one of the most important Brazilian documentaries, was produced in 1970. It was banned by censorship until 1979 when it wasselected for the Brasilia Festival and wont the jury prize. The film, now restored, was hot in 16mm and then copied onto 35mm. The 16mm original has disappeared. The restoration was made using the extant 35mm internegative. The treatment given to the original sound generated a new re-equalized and remixed sound negative. Within the constraints of an optical restoration the restorers tired to eliminate imperfections caused by improper handling and storage. Due to the poor conditions of the original material some scenes couldn’t be totally restored. This optical restoration will enable such defects to be minimized through digital treatment in the future. Restoration was made from March 2003 through September 2004 by Francisco Sergio Moreira, under the supervision of the original director, Vlamidir Carvalho with Myrna Brandão and Carlos Augosto Brandão from the Brazilian Cinema Researchers’ Center. Continue reading

Nelson Pereira dos Santos – Raízes do Brasil: Uma Cinebiografia de Sérgio Buarque de Holanda AKA The Roots of Brazil (2003)

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Cinebiography of celebrated historian Sérgio Buarque de Hollanda, who wrote the seminal “Raízes do Brasil” in 1935, with interviews with his large family (including his widow and his seven children, among them famous composer/singer/writer Chico Buarque and singer Miúcha) and scholar friend Antonio Candido. Written by fabreu Continue reading

Elyseu Visconti – Os Monstros de Babaloo AKA The Monsters of Babaloo (1971)

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If you like early John Waters pieces, you have to see this one. In fact, this movie was released an year earlier than Pink Flamingos. The director was also writer, art director and set decorator, in the traditon of underground cinema – the movie is considered part of the movement called Cinema Marginal and was banned by the military Brazilian authorities.

–mandragoru Continue reading

Júlio Bressane – O Mandarim aka The Mandarin (1995)

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The history of Brazilian popular music in the 20th Century, focusing specially on the life and works of intriguing singer Mário Reis, a loner who, with his special way of singing – whispering and softly saying the words – in a time when singers with potent voices ruled, was in a way a forerunner of Bossa Nova style. Continue reading