Short stories revolving around a bar and a hotel in Recife, unveil a mosaic of exotic characters living in the Brazilian underground: a butcher married with an evangelical woman, a ... See full summary »
A pawn shop proprietor buys used goods from desperate locals--as much to play perverse power games as for his own livelihood, but when the perfect rump and a backed-up toilet enter his life, he loses all control.
Lisbela is a young woman who loves going to the movies. Leléu is a con man, going from town to town selling all sort of things and performing as master of ceremonies for some cheesy numbers... See full summary »
Brazilian baroque. The young son that ran from his dominant family, descends into decadence and then returns to the nest. With melodramatic themes of tyrannical fathers, incest, fierce ... See full summary »
Luiz Fernando Carvalho
Juliana Carneiro da Cunha
A trip to the mental institution hell. This odyssey is lived by Neto, a middle class teenager, who lives a normal life until his father sends him to a mental institution after finding drugs... See full summary »
1978. While the military coup that assaulted Brazil in 1964 starts to teeter, we follow a romance involving an 18 years old soldier and the cultural ringleader of an anarchist cabaret. ... See full summary »
Maria de Jesus Baccarelli,
The lively João Grilo and the sly Chicó are poor guys living in the hinterland who cheat a bunch of people in a small Northeast Brazil town. But when they die, they have to be judged by ... See full summary »
The aspiring actress Marivalda, her husband Wanderley, a bankrupt insurance broker and a false priest do their best to get along in life. But they end up in the hands of a drug boss, whose ... See full summary »
Too many characters and side stories hamper the film's unity, power and focus
Jonas (Guilherme Weber), TV weather man working in São Paulo, returns to his native small village in the poor, desolate sertão (hinterland) of Pernambuco (Northeast of Brazil) to attend the funeral of his estranged father (Paulo César Peréio), murdered after having seduced young Native Indian girl Wedja (Suyane Moreira). Once there, Jonas becomes aware of the cultural clash between urban Southern Brazil and the "honorability" tradition of a certain part of the sertão, which includes clan/family feuds, land dispute and a sort of Brazilian omertà. Side stories stretch to illegal marijuana crops, religious fanaticism, political corruption and racism against Native Indian Brazilians.
Eight years (!!) after his only feature film, the impressive "Baile Perfumado" (which he co- directed with Paulo Caldas), there were great expectations concerning Lírio Ferreira's "Árido Movie" -- after all, "Baile Perfumado" was the most important film produced in Brazil's Northeast in a very long time and it singlehandedly resurrected the agonizing feature film production in Pernambuco, of irregular but powerful cinematic tradition. Unfortunately, these 8 years' wait may have taken their toll: when a filmmaker has to wait THAT long to finally raise funds to make another movie -- as is the rule among most Brazilian filmmakers -- he inevitably ends up packing his film with so many issues, characters, situations and side stories that he has accumulated through the endless script drafts, he loses track of unity and focus; putting all these different pieces together becomes a huge, very difficult task.
The film plays rather like a series of vignettes, with far too many characters and stories thrown in to be really impacting. But what "Árido Movie" ultimately lacks are two essential things: a strong central character and a "tone". The protagonist Jonas -- a cross between a prodigal son and Camus' Meursault -- is so bland and uninteresting we soon get tired of him (even considering he is a TV weather man, so he's supposedly bland already) , especially in the way he is played by a miscast (what about that accent!!) and unimpressive Guilherme Weber (a dead ringer for Tim Curry). The other actors have to struggle with their episodic parts, clashing between "intense" vs. "tongue-in-cheek" key, leaving them and the film toneless.
The pothead trio (lovely Mariana Lima, vapid Gustavo Falcão, irritatingly mannered Selton Mello) look like a cheap gimmick to win adhesion from young audiences, emulating goofy Tarantinoish dialog and tricks (can anybody still take the Pulp Fiction-ish mock-dancing routine?). It creates a silly TV-sitcom taste that makes the movie seem fluffy and shallow. Matheus Nachtergaele -- absurdly miscast as Jonas' UNCLE! -- is someone who really needs some time off making movies; he's been in so many films these last years that by now we know all his tricks (and he's barely 35). In "Árido Movie", he builds his character on a limping leg and phony make-up: time for a vacation, Matheus! On a more positive note, José Dumont (in a horrible wig) is always dependable to give a strong performance, though he has to speak some awfully embarrassing lines -- his character is a sort of Castañeda's Don Juan in the Brazilian sertão. Also noteworthy is model Suyane Moreira's remarkable beauty (albeit her awkward acting) as the pivotal Wedja.
The locations (Recife and the sertão of Pernambuco) are not as impressive as we might expect, and the bleached, washed-out color cinematography tends to add to the overall "cold" feeling. The wild (and sometimes unlikely) mixture of regional accents and expressions will go unnoticed by non-Portuguese speaking audiences, but it's one of the most interesting aspects of the film. Overall, "Árido Movie" is -- sorry to say -- a disappointment. One hopes Lírio Ferreira will not have to wait so long for his next movie; we'll be (im)patiently waiting.
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