Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
A Esteticista (2005)
Esthetic for some, boredom for others
I must first say that this movie does not deserve a 1.7 rating, based on 6 votes to date. I suspect all six votes came from the same person, or two or three who saw this little-seen film together.
INDIANA JONES, it is not. However, why would you expect it to be? A brief plot summary would surely have screened out these 5 or 6 voters. In this documentary-crazed era, we are seeing more and more long interviews edited into a feature documentary, than ever before. So few people these days tune into a program or go to the movies, without first knowing they are going to see a documentary, and what topic the doc focuses on.
If many people, the targeted audience I assume, can sit through 2 hours of "I WAS HITLER'S SECRETARY (with not one shot of anyone but the 90 year old chain-smoking Trudl), this film's target audience will certainly be satisfied after sitting through this film. The subject matter is very specific: the tales of survival of a beautician, who has lived in Brazil mostly, since the end of WWII. We also see she never achieved wealth & fame in Brazil, as this beautician is bossed around in her Salon, given orders to (in a parallel of what she also had to bearing the camps) and treated just like any anonymous citizen, which she also is.
For anyone interested in the stories of Holocaust survivors, this is quite an interesting film. We unfortunately almost always hear the depositions of Holocaust survivors who live in the USA or Israel, which have become so common place, that few are that unique.
Furthermore, survivors who have lived the unprecedented prosperity the US enjoyed after the war until recently, certainly have very skewed views of reality. Most of the survivors I've seen and heard never left the US again, or are expressly interviewed in their first trip "abroad" during organized, collective trips back to Eastern Europe, with other survivors - prompting a lot of sameness in their stories.
So, to hear the story of this survivor in her good, but still-heavily accented Portuguese, is a rare opportunity. But, beware, it is definitely only for those interested in the subject matter. It has been playing in Brazilian TV these last 18 months or so, I think those very unfair 1, 2 or 3 votes came from "Joe Blow" TV viewers, who just saw this by accident. Then, the next time they visited this site, they vented their anger at this film's lack of "traditional" (Hollywood) elements by voting it down.
Make up your own mind about this documentary if you like the subject matter. Don't go by what 6 people have voted down, at a click of a mouse, but haven't commented on why it's so bad. I think votes below 4 should require a comment in order to be counted as valid.
Pervye na Lune (2005)
Somewhat dull "mockumentary" on the Soviet Space Plan
This "mockumentary" mixes facts and fantasy, vintage footage, and fake footage, a mix of the the vintage and the new, in showing the successes and failures, the injustices and contradictions in Stalinist Russia, using its space program as the basis.
The film begins in the spring of 1938, in the mountains of northern Chile, where a flying object fell, in flames, later referred to as the Chilean Sphere". This episode is composed of clearly recently reconstructed scenes. So, an investigation of the episode by a filming team, comes upon an important discovery. This is a secret space program developed in the Soviet Union before World War II. Scientists and military authorities, the film would have you believe, had developed a spaceship 23 years before Yuri Gagarin ever went to space.
The amusing elements of fiction and true statements of the Stalin era the interesting features of this film, which lack continuity, not always easy to follow. I think it was intended for the intellectuals of the former Soviet Republics, particularly Russia, Kazakhstan, and the Ucraine. Its appeal, even in the festival circuit, is very limited.
Lacking cohesion, and depending on the non-stop loud Russian-language commentary to follow the film, it is not comprehensible to the non-Russian speaker, or a non-ex Soviet citizen in one screening. And who'd want to sit through another screening. Though the idea sounds good, it will really be quite boring to most everyone.
A dramatic tango
This little seen Argentine drama is worth a screening. It just premiered in the major Brazilian Film Festivals, four years after the picture's release date, and that's in Argentina's closest neighboring country and largest trade partner. It was, however screened in competition at the 2005 Shanghai International Film Festival. So, maybe the film will get a new life, and more exposure. The low number of IMDb votes in 4 years and its recent festival premiere in Brazil indicate that it has indeed not been seen much. That's a shame, since it has great appeal to tango lovers, even if it is not for everyone.
"Garúa" is the name of a famous Argentinian tango. It is also Spanish for that foggy light rain, the kind that evaporates before hitting the ground. So, that metaphor will shed a lot of light on the film's theme. The plot begins with Franco killing a tango singer, & the weight of guilt begins to haunt him obsessively.
He finds himself compelled to find out more about his victim in order apparently to alleviate his guilt. This takes him into the fascinating world of tango in bohemian Buenos Aires, with true artists around. Franco becomes involved in the tango scene and starts filling gaps left by the dead man, including involvement in the deceased's personal life. The scene is set.... A very recommendable tango drama.
Die Vogelpredigt (2005)
Hilarious and intelligent
This modestly produced film from Switzerland is both hilarious and intelligent. The film's low budget does unfortunately show in its production values. But no matter. The result is one of the most original and funniest films in the S. Paulo Film Festival. The picture also addresses serious issues regarding Switzerland in general, and its artists in particular. The wonderful use of the Swiss-German dialect is another original feature, though it may be lost for viewers not familiar with the issue.
That said, it's not for everyone obviously, and that's perhaps the film's biggest statement; that any film to be financed and get made requires a huge compromise so it can "be for everyone", more or less. This message is expressed in a script where 2 veteran actors want to make a new, different Swiss film. So, they set off in search of a director.
They seek the writer, director and producer of the film itself - Clemens Klopfenstein, who sits as a juror in this year's S. Paulo Film Festival where I screened the film yesterday. And his character uses his own real name in the movie.
The two middle age decadent actors have worked with the director (decades ago), and after a wild ride from German-speaking to Italian speaking Switzerland, they find him & try to convince him of this new idea for a film. It would an epic road movie across Africa, with beautiful women, and other exotic and wild details.
The production would be a sequence to a successful film they made 10 years before - The Silence of Men. But the two cannot persuade him to accept their idea. On the contrary, both are persuaded to perform in the director's new feature with a religious theme entitled St Francis Birds Tour, in which Ursula Andress delivers an interesting cameo as the Virgin Mary.
For a screen test, the actors are dressed as monks, & taken to a forest which is literally a labyrinth. It does not take them too long to find out that, in reality, they have fallen into a trap. The director disappears as though by magic, and they find themselves lost, with no idea of how to find their way out. With this unfortunate but hilarious situation, the plot of the film really takes off and leads to the absurd, but very funny conclusion, which I won't spoil for you, of course. Definitely a 10 in my book.
Gaijin - Ama-me Como Sou (2005)
Saga of descendants of Japanese immigrants to Brazil
This, the second Brazilian "Gaijin" film, now appears 25 years after the first drama. It shares a lot of common ground with the earlier film, including the same director, and a couple of the same characters; one Nipo-Brazilian is played by the same actor as in the 1980 Film. It's also another saga about the descendants of Japanese immigrants to Brazil, who now face the same difficulties as all Brazilians, the difficulties resulting from the country's history.
Within Brazil's history, the Japanese immigration is among the most remarkable, and unusual highlights; amazing not only as the sole massive Japanese immigration movement, but emerging as Brazil's most successful group of immigrants, all the more surprising for being the most unlikely of any other immigrant or ethnic group, originally having absolutely no tie whatsoever to any other group, and thus facing the worse hardships of any group since the African slaves.
This new film recently won top prizes, including best film, director, and supporting actress, at Brazil's most traditional and prestigious film "event": the Gramado Festival. The critics in Brazil have nevertheless not been nearly as kind, and have pretty much denounced the film, mostly for its plot holes. The public here has been less than receptive. The film lasted only two weeks at Sao Paulo's most prestigious and popular "arteplex" which is also located in the heart of the city and close to old and new Braz-Japanese neighborhoods.
In its third week of commercial exhibition, the film is now playing at a second run cinema, where I just saw it, though it is still playing at a few shopping centers. I can't help but think if this film doesn't make it here, where would it make it? I saw it nevertheless, and was pleasantly surprised. It is a bit too long, and the plot is indeed full of holes, but overall it's worth seeing. Particularly for the excellent mixed cast, including the Cuban Jorge Perugorria and the American Tamlyn Tomita in two of the main roles, blending into a mix of some of the most famous veteran Brazilian actors, and local teenage heartthrobs now, like Dado Dolabella, and Mariana Ximenes - two current huge soap opera idols.
If that says nothing to you (and it won't to most of the world), maybe the unusual and true Japanese-Brazilian story line, and the plot will. This is what happens during 131 minutes in a nut shell. In 1908, Titoe, a Japanese woman comes to Brazil intent on making some money here, then eventually return to Japan. But in 1935, with her Brazil born daughter Shinobu, and with insufficient means to return to Japan, Titoe decides to buy her first plot of land in Londrina, an agricultural area (now a big city) where many Japanese were put to work in Brazil.
The 2nd World War and its consequences put Titoe's plans to return "home" on endless hold. Titoe not only bore her daughter Shinobu in this new land, but Shinobu has given her mother more reasons to postpone her dream - two grandchildren: Kazumi and Maria, Both are second generation Brazilians, confirming the definition of "home" as arguable at best.
The East-West conflicts of course predominate. But they are somewhat different from the usual clichés. The back-lands of Brazil in the mid 20th Century are NOT the "West" portrayed in similarly themed films. Herein lie many differences, and the main reason why you will probably either become involved in this film's story, or terribly bored.
O Pulso (1998)
Award-winning short film addressing life & death
This film, THE PULSE, in English is a gem of a short film. It deservedly won the Best Short Film Award at the 1998 Miami Brazilian Film Festival. The title may refer to the pulse of the heart, which indicates life or death, or it may refer to the pulsing timing during action of the film. THE PULSE involves trying to rescue a man, by taking him to a hospital, and the events at the hospital. It is unusual and thought provoking.
Satree lek (2000)
"Against All Odds," a cross between "Rocky" & "Priscilla, Queen..." prevails!
From Thailand, this film (winner of two 2001 Berlin Film Festival "Teddy Awards)" is an outrageous high-camp comedy, which despite its eccentricities, is sure to entertain all audiences, and have a strong positive message for everyone. THE IRON LADIES (English title) celebrates the true 1996 triumph of a group of hilarious Thai screaming queens.
Through a series of circumstances, the drag queens, join a new (and female) coach and the sole survivor (and only straight player) of a district volleyball squad to form a new team. Representing its district and now competing at the national level, they are clearly face down at odds. In spite of this and their individual "personal issues," they strive for championships and national recognition, creating an Asian phenomenon on the way.
The film is very Hollywood-slick, but at the same time, very Asian. It is a unique picture of very unconventional sportsmen battling bigotry on and off the court. IRON LADIES breathes new life into both the screwball comedy and the root-for-the underdog sports movie. Not to be missed.
Gelée précoce (1999)
One of the best shorts I have ever seen!
EARLY FROST (the English title & literal translation) is simply the best short film I have ever seen: humorous, dramatic, gay, straight,.... Simply the best. At over 15 minutes length, the film has enough time to develop themes most full length features don't, through its ingenious insinuations. A fable, and uproarious black comedy, the film deals with homophobia and family disfunction through the relationship of a young girl and her pet rabbit.
When the rabbit shows homosexual inclinations, the parents of the girls take very extreme measures which transform the girl's life. At the same time, the girl (and her parents) come in contact with the the family's up-to-then ignored gay neighbors in this upper middle-class Parisian suburb. The impacting life-long consequences of these developments are, in a word, unique. The "natural" similarity between the sexual orientation and other characteristics of humans and pet animals has never been so well explored, and focused. A milestone short-film; a true achievement.
Bombay Talkie (1970)
Very dated film, best not to revisit
This 1970 movie starring the then Indian heart throb Shashi Kapoor, and his long time wife Jennifer Kendal, or Kapoor (billed with one or the other name in her films)is in a time warp. An early merchant-Ivory production, it shows how far this duo and their other usual collaborators have come. On another level, to see what Bombay looked like 30 years ago, compared to what it is today is a shocking experience in time travel. To see Shashi Kapoor as a slim youthful sex symbol today, when one has been seeing him in the 90s, say, in 'IN CUSTODY.' as an incredibly obese old dying man with now lightened hair, is also one of the most striking transformations of any former sex symbol in history. Marlon Brando resembles his former self much more than Kapoor, just to hint at the transformation. Another step back in time is to see Kapoor's long time wife (married from 1958 until her death from cancer in September 1984) in essence playing herself. Except for the refreshing, nostalgic look at Bombay, the other subjects this film features are best left alone, like the dead. What you will see is very depressing. And the entire theme of the movie, already weak in 1970, is completely irrelevant now. Spare yourself the pain. I only got through it because I didn't realize the youthful, healthy Kapoor was the monstrously looking creature he is today. And even when the utter bitchiness of the late Jennifer Kendal had me on the edge, I stuck it out through the rest of the film. But it is an experience I would not recommend.
Ein Virus kennt keine Moral (1986)
Pioneering satire about AIDS
This, at the time, was a pioneering film. The always innovative and irreverent Rosa von Praunheim broke the ice on satirizing AIDS. This was later done by several other independent directors from Canada and the USA, also imitating the parody musical format which von Praunheim created. This film is still the most important of its genre. Von Praunheim was severely ostracized for poking fun at such a subject. But he insisted that given how the world had ignored AIDS up to then (1985; it took the Rock Hudson death to shake the US then), satire was necessary. He was right. Whatever would cause the most raucous would bring the most attention to AIDS. And it worked. So, don't expect a landmark film. But it is a film that perhaps highlights von Praunheim's career as a gay activist, not as a film maker.