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O Sanduíche (2000)
a tale with a lot of surprises from the best Brazilian director
SANDUICHE (SANDWICH, in Portuguese) is a mind-bender mix of detailed character profiles, multiple points of view, and the art of cooking. But most of all, SANDWICH is wonderful because of Jorge Furtado's ability to tell a story in a way that changes entirely our perspective in each turn of the story. Here this master proves that making a movie could be just like cooking a meal - you blend flavors to create something unique. That's what makes SANDWICH so appealing - the way Furtado creates a story that changes its "flavor" every time. Passion, jealousy, anxiety, love, irony, it's everything here. A masterpiece. For those who are not familiar with the work of Furtado, take a look at another short, ILHA DAS FLORES (ISLAND OF FLOWERS), considered one of the 100 best shorts of all time by the Clermont-Ferrand Festival.
Quase Dois Irmãos (2004)
A country torn apart
QUASE DOIS IRMÃOS (the title translates as something like ALMOST LIKE TWO BROTHERS) is a brutal examination of Brazilian society, divided between black and white people, between politicians and drug barons, men and women, mothers and sons, us and them. There are times when these worlds live together, but they are bound to collide, crash and burn. The movie follows the friendship between a black man from the slums (Jorge) and a communist (Miguel). In their childhood, they play games and listen to the samba; in their youth, they are arrested (Miguel for political reasons, Jorge for being a thief); later, Jorge has become a drug baron and Miguel is a politician who forgot his dreams of changing the world. The centerpiece of the movie is the time they spent together in jail. Miguel learns that the "people" for whom he fights is not the way he idealizes them, and Jorge learns how to take the "political view" into the crime life, thus generating the organized crime. The director Lucia Murat, no strange to political persecutions herself(she was arrested and tortured by the dictatorship in Brazil)conducts this epic story with intimate care and great storytelling. The cast is top-notch, with great Brazilian actors giving the performances of their lives (Caco Ciocler and Flavio Bauraqui are standouts). A masterpiece from Brazil who deserves to be discovered.
Splendor in the Grass (1961)
a masterpiece about youth's pain and what you learn from it
There are movies, and then there are sensorial experiences like SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS. The sound of the water in the first scene, the color of Natalie Wood skin, the absolutely black of Warren Beaty's hair, the smell of champagne in the "crazy party"... SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS is not only a movie, it's an experience that anyone that was once young can understand and feel. The characters go through love, sexual arousing, separation, and pain... not because of a villain, but because of life, and ultimately, because of themselves. The splendor of the title is that rare moment in life where everything clicks, the moment that you will remember forever from your youth. See it. You won't forget.
Moonlight Mile (2002)
Surprising mix of comedy and drama
MOONLIGHT MILE is a superb piece of cinema, a well acted melodrama enlighted by intelligent and subtle humour. The history revolves around a death of a young woman and how it affects the father (Hoffman, chanelling RAINMAN sometimes), the mother (Sarandon, correct and luminous) and her fiancee (Gyleenhal, whom I had never seen in action... I all can say is "Tobey who?") The story has a surprise in its middle point, something that alters all the way we see the story, something so subtle and unexpected that we really don't see it coming. You'll be surprised.
Sunset Blvd. (1950)
The stuff nightmares are made of.
A wonderful,marvelous, out-of-this-world picture. It is crude with Hollywood, but it is also a declaration of love to the movies, and all that they represent. Gloria Swanson is at the top of her career as one of the most bigger-than-life characters of the movies. And William Holden delivers his best performance as the gigolo-to-be Gillis. But the movie belongs, ultimately, to Erich Von Stroheim, the master of his art that was the influence on Wilder here. Wilder said he had ideas of himself for the movie, such as a scene in which he would wash Norma Desmond's underwear with romantic frenzy. Talk about screen rebels...