A story inspired by the life of one of the most remarkable figures in Brazilian popular culture, João Francisco dos Santos (1900-1976). In turn, bandit, transvestite, street fighter, brothel cook, convict and father to seven adopted children, dos Santos--better known as Madame Satã--was also a notorious gay performer who pushed social boundaries in a volatile time. The story begins in 1932, in Rio de Janeiro's bohemian Lapa district, when João Francisco is about to achieve his dream: becoming a stage star. In the sordid yet lively world of Lapa--populated by pimps, prostitutes and other denizens of Rio's underworld--João battles the streets and presides over a surrogate family that includes the charming prostitute Laurita, and her baby daughter whom everyone dotes on; the flamboyant hustler Taboo; João's teenage lover, Renatinho; and Amador, the owner of the Blue Danube club which is their second home. It is at the Blue Danube that street tough João begins to sing, and the mythic drag... Written by
Sujit R. Varma
Opinions vary widely about the merits of this impressionistic real-life portrait of a colorful Brazilian 30's and 40's character. And it's easy to see why.
Depicted in a deliberately disjointed narrative, we experience various glimpses of Senor Santos' life, mainly his mid-period, prior to a ten-year prison conviction.
And while there are copious close-ups of the hot-tempered antihero and associates, we're not given much in the way of either a source of his rage or a greater context of his character development.
We're left to assume he's a complex personality, bitter about his lack of material goods, social standing, and education. But it's only a guess, for he or no one else really expresses cause--so we're left only with effect.
However, we're rewarded by a mesmerizing lead performance and strong work by the entire cast.
Presented as one of the jewels of film series in the northeast, called the Cinematheque, located in Cleveland, Ohio, attendees continue to be blessed by rare opportunities to view the best in international cinema.
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