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Nada Será Como Antes (2016)
Everything remains the same
Nothing will be as before - or Nothing Remains the Same - is a title both generic and unoriginal for a period plot that barely respects the very era portrayed: from 1946 through 1959. The scenario goes from the heyday of the radio era up to the beginnings of televised soap operas. Rio de Janeiro was then the capital of Brazil. The name of this fictitious station - TV Guanabara - strangely mimics a TV station that did existed in the 1960s - in fact, such station still exists today, although it is now entitled 'Band' - actually a fierce competitor of TV Globo, the latter being the producer of the program in question. As in almost all of Globo's fiction productions, there is a lot of social engineering here, ranging from gay kissing to interracial marriage, to condemnation of machismo and tolerance towards cuckoldry. The direction is academic and the visual treatment, as usual, based on an impressionist imitation of brown & white. But the most shocking thing was the video clip that crowned the end of the arrhythmical series: a flash-forward in the form of self-propaganda of 21st-century Globo, which unveiled the "prodigious" programming of half a century later: nothing but a brazen self- promotion of a channel that, among the richest media in the world, should hardly need so much self-boasting.
Biopic shows Pimentinha's vitality and glamour, lacks pizazz though
When Elis passed away in 1982, people and talked about an involuntary, casual overdose: she was kinda "first-time sailor," the media never spoke of suicide. The writers of this film, however, reveal that she had been using drugs since long before (the mid sixties to be precise) and did commit suicide, driven by a chronic, deep depression. The movie was based rather on the musical show "Elis, a musical" by his fan, producer, friend and lover Nelson Motta than on Julio Maria's biography entitled "Nothing will be as before." The complexity of Elis's life was directly proportional to her unpredictable, impetuous, and ambitious personality. Only five feet tall, Elis was blessed with a high-pitched, sincere voice, good technique, and a great rhythmic and harmonic sense, somewhat jazzing everything up. The film omits her first two records produced under the tutelage of the father, with a repertoire chosen by the recording label and a standard background playback sound. It also omits her first source of income when she arrived in Rio de Janeiro in 1964, namely the jingles she recorded for advertising agencies under the tutelage of her first boyfriend in Rio, Henrique Meyer, also a gaucho. The film exaggerates, on the other hand, the supposed political side of the singer - who was never a communist. It highlights characters absolutely unimportant for this kind of biopic, such as one grotesque colonel interrogator of the Brazilian army, one French reporter too preoccupied with the evils of third-world dictatorships, and one particular cartoonist, Henfil from O Pasquim, who slashed her by drawing her singing in the presence of Adolf Hitler. The film, which can be seen as a pleasant musical, involuntarily confirms Heitor de Paola's thesis of drugs acting as a means - whether or not unconscious - of a collective suicidal drive.
The Crown (2016)
From a commoner with love
Monarchist propaganda, just for grannies to watch - this is what part of the audience has been saying about it... Well, it just seems that I have seen the wrong series, where the Windsors are portrayed as full of fancies, the Crown is portrayed as sheer circus pageantry, King Edward VIII as a pernicious playboy, the Duke of Edinburgh as a narcissist who gained the love lottery but does not value it sufficiently, Princess Margaret as a populist party girl... Not even Churchill escapes blame, as a senile leader who burns his own portrait painted by Graham Sutherland... And the cast, heavens! We never saw a wax museum reproduced with such perfection and visual 'whims.' Lithgow speaks just like Winston, Northam is Eden as is, Foy - who had already brilliantly performed Little Dorritt and Ann Boleyn - embodies the absolutist mentality including all its Inherent weaknesses. Very seldom we have seen so much opulence - both in form and content. And WOW no less than four great directors - Martin and Caron, from the Wallander series (which I keep seeing and re-seeing), Jarrold (from SIlent Witness and Brideshead Revisited), Daldry (from The Hours, Billy Eliot, The Reader)
A Lei do Amor (2016)
The usual self-serving, socialist bullshit
it is still early to properly review this soap-opera, but for the record it is worth to mention that 'The Law of Love' started with its protagonist fully itemizing a prevalent message, namely that: "In the Law of Love, if you are not a socialist, it is because you have no heart at all." Such politically-correct thesis is absolute, self-deceptive foolishness itself in its bottom line. Screenwriters risk becoming foolish or even 'useful idiots' by embarking on such kind of social engineering. Lenin and Stalin used the term "polyezniy idiot," or "useful idiot" to describe sympathizers in the West who blindly supported leftism. A phrase like 'useful idiots' can thus refer to anyone who, without much understanding about love or laws, decrees that socialism not only dictates the laws of love as the former also detains an absolute moral control about the latter. Having thus spoken, Zarathustra will now follow the novelão which represents at least a relief as compared to the previous novelão, "Old Chico", which 'excelled' in its unbearable visuals based on CGI, Photoshop, sepia-turned-in high-definition images.
Despite Rio Mayor's (Mr. Eduardo Paes) worries about whether the Games would be disastrous...
The 2007 Pan American Games in Rio DE Janeiro had been considered a negative experience, as the Brazilian Audit Court (Tribunal DE Contas d União) found a troubling pattern of overpricing in the order of 1,000% (yep, one thousand percent) upon the accounts re the 2007 Games held in the same city. Nevertheless, the 2016 Summer Games WERE held in wintertime Rio. A budget of R$270 mi (roughly US$84 mi) from a billionaire public-private partnership allowed the event.
The organizers' idea was to focus on two current social issues, namely the challenge of individual differences, and the environmental concerns with Anthropocentric Global Warming (AGW). Picture a beautiful, inventive nation of different peoples, beliefs and rhythms committed to provide the world with a message of... hope, legacy & egalitarianism. The most used resource throughout the ceremony was the projection of lights and videos on white sidings, filling the lawn of the Maracana stadium, and dramatizing the planned scenario. A choreography by Deborah Colker emphasized the national swaying and the typical waddling mode of pop swing, with dancers pushing metal structures into micro formats, designing the planet earth, and then the huge tropical green forest. Elastic nets hanged from a horizontal pole, handled by the soloists. An artistic ballet featuring Amazon Indians from Parintins, Portuguese explorers, African slaves and Japanese immigrants was shown on video projections that recreated the ancient agrarian touch of the country with its plantations under the open sky. The "growing up" from colonial rural to post-1960 urban was then projected video- graphically onto the center of the Maracana stadium, complete with CGI of dancers jumping from one terrace to another. Yes, the Rio Olympic Games managed to make us momentarily forget Brazil's more serious problems, and thus offer the world an exciting cycle of competitive moments. The show's routines, however, weren't as brilliant as those produced in past opening ceremonies such as Barcelona, Athens, Lillehammer, Salt Lake City, Moscow and especially Beijing.
Despite its natural beauty, Rio's urban landscape could hardly hide the local illnesses: the misuse of public money, the widespread thievery within the political control instruments, the glaring social distortions, the lack of a basic infrastructure, the organized gang violence, petty thefts, environmental negligence, insufficient security nets, the absence of a fair-play mentality and so forth. Therefore, the opening ceremony made a point of featuring "Indians, empowerment of blacks and women, transgenders and a warning against the risks of oil usage," according to its incumbent director & publicist Fernando Meirelles, who symbolized the poor and the oppressed by representing them as said native "Indians, blacks, women, and transgenders." Therefore, the Games sponsors and authorities (both municipal and federal) appeared before the world as concerned bulwarks opposed to the reactionary arrogance and certified interests of the macabre oil industry, which, they supposedly allege, is the main cause of AGW. It rather amounts, though, to a propaganda speech leitmotiv usually spread by a globalist elite engaged in - to quote Leon Trotsky - "alienating (workers, small farmers, micro-entrepreneurs, consequently a multitude of Indians, blacks and women) from progress."
Liberdade, Liberdade (2016)
Fake History With Politically Correct Standards
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.