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Liberdade, Liberdade (2016)
History faked (which is kinda OK considering suspension of disbelief) plus political correctness enforced (which is rather slutty)
The Brazilian Globo network is characterized by sophisticated productions filled with Computer-Graphic-Imagery since approximately ten years ago. They opt for visuals based on sepia tones typical of old photographs. Liberdade Liberdade (Freedom Freedom) adds soft-core pornography to its exaltation of current political correctness. It's a mere by-product of the ideological disease that plagues the 21st century: Politically correctness equals Cultural Marxism. The soap opera aims to reinvent history by placing feminism within colonial Brazil in the 18th-to-19th turn of the century. Joaquina, the protagonist, did exist indeed, but nothing was ever known about her, except that she was the bastard child of the leading rebel Joaquim José da Silva Xavier, nicknamed Tiradentes. OK, it's certainly valid to get fanciful as far as fictitious plots go. But to rewrite history? To emphasize current myths such as feminism and multi-racial sex by mixing them into the old, sad reality of slavery? To be sure, in colonial Brazil there was an actual lack of intimacy between the Republican project of the republican conjurers and the everyday life & common aspirations of overseas subjects of Empress Maria of Portugal. Such national symbols and heroes, like Tiradentes, would only be forged much later on, of course. Not to sound necessarily moralistic, but... Prime-time sexplotation? This is minimally slutty towards any middle-of-the-road, conservative audience. To rent a porn DVD is one thing, to watch a simulacrum of history is another thing, far less commendable, far more arguable.
Chatô: O Rei do Brasil (2015)
Pretentious, self-indulgent mystification
Mr. Chateaubriand, in real life, could not have been worse than Citizen Chateaubriand as shown in this pseudo-biography supposedly based on a biographical bestseller. Biographer Morais did win his credit, but the biopic is only a nil-biog minor-pix that has nearly nothing to do with facts, except a few characters such as Chatô and Getulio Vargas. While Welles' Citizen Kane showed an à-clef W.R. Hearst more sympathetic than the real-life press magnate, "Chatô the King of Brazil" shows a psychopath, an unlikely sexpot, a lying bastard, a provincial Machiavelli, without even bothering to explain how he ever became a multimillionaire tycoon. This film was shot by the end of the last century and finished in 2015 only thanks to the money newly invested by Francis Coppola. Its script is barely unintelligible to any viewer of any nationality, both high-brow and low-brow. There is no commitment whatsoever with historical reality. Not even the dictator Vargas, in real life, was the s-o-b herein played by Paulo Betti. Everything amounts to sheer mystification, from talent to entertainment value: Fiat Lux became 'Fioluz,' Coca Cola became 'Soda Cola,' and Vivi Sampaio simply never existed in real life. Doris Monteiro, however, did exist (the part's name was changed à clef), she was at the center of a scandal that exemplified major abuse of power: Chateaubriand decided to elect Doris, then his mistress, the 'Queen of the Radio.' He called his treasurer and gave him an order: "Get Cr$5,000,000 right now!" The treasurer managed to extort the money from advertisers and Doris eventually got 875,605 votes! This is perhaps one of the few links with reality in a movie so delirious and poorly photographed, which hollowly falsifies history in a free, self- indulgent and pretentious way.
Nutty filmmaking & poor edition vs. occasionally intelligible approaches
For Mr. Back, a bad as well as incorrigibly biased filmmaker , the Paraguay War was nothing but an internal fight of the Freemasonry. The Brazilian Emperor Pedro II, his Minister of the Army, the Marquis of Caxias, the Paraguayan dictator and invader Solano Lopez, all were Masons. The Paraguayan historian herein interviewed is excellent. The Brazilian historian herein interviewed is a merely crazy, idiotic Leftopath. The Argentine historian, nevertheless, is a reasonable one, although he may be mistaken in saying that Catholic religion and Freemasonry are always incompatible. The bottom line is, Solano Lopez was no Ho Chi Minh, perhaps a proton-Saddam Hussein. The Homeland Volunteers (Voluntarios da Patria)summoned via Imperial Decree were not black slaves shackled by chains made in Catamarca, Argentina (!!! ???) and sent by default to certain death. Every country has the natural right to defend itself against foreign aggression. That's what Brazil and the Triple Alliance did against Paraguay, period.
As David Patrick Stearn Put It, Met Tries Conceptual Approach in a Rich, Confounding Igor
Great music, wonderful singing (soloists and chorus), superb conductor, the Met orchestra at their best. As usual, everything fabulous. Only top pros could produce such euphonious beauty... amidst such conceptualized travesty! I am still trying, for example, to verify the relevance of the opening quote displayed on the screen: "Starting a war is the shortest way to combat internal distress" How this applies to Igor, whose country was invaded by Mongolian hordes, or to his enemy, whose megalomaniac imperialism motivated the attacks, there is no clue. The disconnection also applies to the haphazard, inconsistent melange of styles. "Prince Igor" is an opera more talked about than seen. It hadn't been staged since the days of Toscanini. For the benefit of those who are lucky enough to see it, I only wish it were "played straight". The Overture wasn't played at all. It was composed by Glazunov and, for that reason, omitted. This production starts with the Prologue, which is followed by Act II. Act I is omitted entirely. Acts III and IV were also subject to a heavy editorial process. I wish that this gem of an opera were presented without further conceptuality. I am increasingly frustrated by those "auteur" directors (e.g. Baz Luhrman, Gerald Thomas) ignorant of, or worse, regardless of style, costumes and period, perverting the composers' intentions by putting their egos far above Art. For the fans of the bizarre and the inchoate, however, this show was gratifying, the more so for including an hallucinogenic spectacle of the Polovetsian Dances: the whole thing read as the fantasy of a wounded warrior. Given that some of it WAS fantasy - the visit of Igor's wife, for instance - it makes sense that all of it MIGHT BE so, including the dancers who sprang up from the poppies. But these weird poppies get in the way of a lot of things, and spoil the dance while they're at it. Which is a Fokine classic, and in no way fits the subject matter. In the last scene, characters sing about going back to Russia, but from the set it appears they already ARE in Russia, so it's very confusing. Overall, a very mixed bag. The anti-war sentiment must ring especially true to modern day Russians living under the Putin administration. But the Met production, although obviously designed for the HD broadcast, makes dubious, or rather devious sense.
Amores Roubados (2014)
Dangerous liaisons and stolen loves
The original text, entitled "The Nova St. Girl Who Was Walled-Off," which served as an argument, would probably have provided a much superior material. It was written by Carneiro Vilela (1846-1913) of northeastern Brazil. Like Edgar Allan Poe's "The cask of Amontillado," it also contains a character called Fortunato. And alike Poe's Fortunato, who was lured into an underground crypt and bricked alive, the protagonist, a bourgeois young impregnated by her boyfriend is incarcerated in her own room at the behest of her father, the wealthy merchant Jaime, in order to cover up the shame and preserve the family honor. The story is still shrouded in mystery . In real life, the crime was supposedly committed in a loft sited on #200 Rua Nova (Nova St.) in Recife. Vilela's work was published, duly serialized, from 1909 to 1912 , then converted into a novel. Is this a true case, or a product from the imagination of an indefatigable writer? Anyhow the novel vividly portrayed the society of late nineteenth century , while the 2014 TV series chose to focus on a story of passion , sex , betrayal and vengeance, based on the old stereotypes of narrow-minded, sexist Colonels for whom the paramount honor of the mighty had to be washed with blood and everything should be solved through oppression or bullets, with the aid of thugs. I'll praise the photography by Walter Carvalho , full of inclined shots and super close-ups, revealing stunning backdrops that present the backwoods of Northeast Brazil's wine region. I'll reject, however, the commercial appeal of erotic scenes which abuse of slow motion and redundant flashback fillers without any other purpose than, say, in-caliente, ad- nauseam repetition.
12 Angry Men (1957)
Rather disorderly than angry
The inflamed comments are probably Pavlovian responses to the movie's politically correct quotient. Quality performers meet deep message. The most obvious flaw in this supposed classic, one of the most super-estimated films in history was as follows: real juries are allowed neither to carry their own experiences nor to consider evidence not presented at trial. If the jury had acted in accordance with the correct legal procedure, there would have been no basis for the plot, therefore no drama, therefore no catharsis. An intriguing theme doesn't always result in a good production. What shall I call a movie including clichéd, implausible characters, and a foreseeable twist (a 11-to-1 vote changing into 0-to-12)? Juries exist in order to allow the cold letter of the law to be broken, or temporarily suspended. That's what they're all about. That's their raison d'être. A judge can acquit a suspicious defendant for lack of evidence. A jury may convict him or her for "feeling his or her" guilt. The institution of the jury was thus an historical way to "humanize" lawsuits. If jurors were so one-dimensional, mindless and easy to persuade, courts should certainly keep them afar.
TV Pirata (1988)
Fun is the name of the game
'Pirate TV' was inspired by sketch comedy shows such as Saturday Night Live and Monty Python's Flying Circus plus a no-nonsense approach mixing elements of Brazilian culture such as football, politics, pop culture, soaps, economics and celebrities. The premise was a TV studio being invaded by pirates who took over the programming department and put a tape on the air with some "unusual" programming. The idea of a fresh new comedy style settled among the audience, who was very accustomed to the sketch comedy style from vaudeville and old- time programs such as Faça Humor Não Faça a Guerra & Planeta dos Homens, former cultural phenomena. The program has been released on DVD. Some of its videos are also available through YouTube.
Que Rei Sou Eu? (1989)
Soap versus Scams & Ruses
"What Kinda King Am I?" mixes The Prince and the Pauper with The Prisoner of Zenda to tell the story of the Avilan country, plagued by an absolutist, degenerate tyranny. As pop-star Abel Chacrinha used to state, within the television community, nothing is created, whilst everything is copied. The phrase continues to ring a bell and adhere to almost everything done by TV Globo along the last quarter century, including this satire against (ugh)... Corruption. (By the way, the latter phenomenon, incidentally, seems to have grown 5000 percent in this quarter century alone) (and nowadays Avilan is even more corrupt than, say, rotten Denmark used to be in more princely times.)
Cidade de Deus (2002)
what is absolutely true here is the name of the slum "Cidade De Deus"
Many consider a movie outstanding just because it shows tragic poverty and violence. Subconsciously, people feel "politically correct" for liking it. Praise becomes a form of self- elevation, whilst the mere, unnecessary styling offends the topic's intrinsic seriousness. The ideological showcase overcomes an honest presentation. Mixing tragic elements to create a shocking, poignant movie is easy. But somehow the whole thing becomes a farce too pretentious to be positively assessed. An unpunished, 10 year old killer runs around, kills everyone and then bursts into evil laughs. The horrifying situation exists in reality. But a film approach ought to be different. This film has been sold as a kind of triumph of the human spirit, yet it's no more than a typical mobster movie sited at Jacarepaguá. Scene after scene, someone is killed and the deaths have the same depth or significance of a video game. The protagonist does nothing to improve himself. He is a social victim, period. He features the moral character of a robot. And banditry, to the Brazilians' 'delight,' recruits untouchable children as hoods. A Guy Ritchie-like gang plot has its moments of shock: non stop bloodbaths & revolting human filth. For those fond of Grand Guignol, this is a perfect movie. Horrible and cheap in all aspects, including pain and suffering. Simply pathetic, filmed as an elegant commercial edited with rather annoying camera movements. City of God was just another product from the Third World that dazzled the radical chic community of the First World.
Wonderful high culture with a touch of slapstick
Haendel's most popular opera remains characteristic of the melodramatic style of his era, with an integration between love and politics, jealousy and heroism, revenge and appetite of glory. The music is Italian-inspired, with recitatives and arias that alternate harmoniously and enhance the dramatic impact. Areas of great beauty, off contemporary conventions, give the whole an admirable scenic and stylistic unit. McVicker, a highly original metteur en scène, transposed the action to the 1920s. Rome became the British Empire and so on. It's as divine a contemporary production of Handel as one can get. Wonderful staging, superb cast. This is the opera that conquered London in Handel's times (1724 to be precise) David McVicar's inventive production triumphed in Glyndebourne at its premiere in 2005. McVicar's witty, sexy, and tragic post-colonial framing of Handel's Caesar and Cleopatra tale incorporates elements of Baroque theater and 20th-century British imperialism to illuminate ideas of love, war, and empire building. The world's leading countertenor, David Daniels, sang the title role opposite Natalie Dessay as an irresistibly exotic Cleopatra. Do take note of: (i) the audacity of the choreography, with pop resonances reminiscent of current phenomenon (e.g. the Korean Psy); (ii) the costumes, which never compromise with traditional historical fidelity, and (iii) the sheer amount of glorious Baroque (almost Rococo) coloratura singing is most thrilling, inviting singers to improvise - which they do masterfully.