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Criteria: below ten titles, only counting films and TV films, and with less than two known works (that's why you won't be seeing Heather O'Rourke here, just an example).
Oliver's Mind (2010)
With the traits and touches of "Psycho", "Halloween" and "Donnie Darko", the claustrophobic and suspenseful "Oliver's Mind" follows a schizophrenic teenager who refuses to take his meds thinking he can cope with things without them, but what comes on the news isn't much helpful with reports about a killer on the loose right on his neighborhood. The teen in question is Oliver (James Edwards), who lives with his caring mother (Renee Gelbard Haubner), always protective of the boy and the one who has to deal with his visions and uncontrolled episodes, taken to a far extreme with what he saw on TV. Oliver snaps for real when he senses that the mysterious killer is closer than he thought and now is up to him to warn his mom about the dangers they face. You probably know what comes next.
Creators Matthew Rosenbaum and Jacob Friedman surely made a thrilling project, filled with suspense and a certain dose of humor (which, actually, should be completely removed from the story, it looked way too forced). They know how to build tension and confusion, and make you care for the characters, something extremely hard to find these days. However, the B-movie quality doesn't help the project in any way. It feels cheap, almost amateurish. And the digital video looked odd, without much quality. You can make film about simple (or weird) things, but the trick is try to not look too simplistic and for the plenty of references found here (and I think they're quite obvious to catch), one could mix all that and develop something beyond a conventional slasher/ psychological thriller film.
No harm was done, it's filled with good qualities and there's a nice conclusion to it as well. And it stays with you for some time. Maybe it was just me, trying to imagine a more detailed and longer film with layers and layers and complicated plot twists. That could and should happen. 7/10
Tierra y pan (2008)
The more you look, the deeper it gets
Desolation and misery in the objective way most people tend to watch or try to avoid seeing is the way director Carlos Armella presents his poetic and sensitive short film "Tierra Y Pan" ("Land and Bread"). A suttle camera movement (as the director calls it) whose frames at first involves a restless dog tied to a fence, but the more the camera slowly moves, we get a different focus on another big story taking place with that first image in the background still calling our attention.
A desert space, a small shack on the left side, the dog's still there barking and moving to the presence of a kid, then a pregnant woman, than a man, a doctor, all through the afternoon. At first, the setting seems a different era, from a relatively distant past but then we see a pickup truck and another conception is formed in our minds. Armella presents a classic technique where the more backwards we go, the more we realize how the context can be changed and be truly presented. The picture as a whole can only be formed when we move backwards, at a certain distance, while the story progresses forward. And then everything changes drastically.
It's not like a short film can be easily spoiled but I preferred to talk more about the way everything unfolded than to reveal about the what and why the story is important...despite the film having a certain topic to cover with all the transitions going on. The technique was brilliantly presented, an amazing cinematographic work that really takes you to that place for a brief moment, no dialogues, with the sound treatment focusing on what's happening all around: the barks, the movements, and the most important of all...the sound of the wind. Chilling.
Watch it and make your own conclusions. It's evident that there's a great relevance to life, specially the situations we tend to overlook or avoid, Makes you get a different perspective at the end of it all. 8/10
Remembering "Philadelphia" and its legacy
This review comes with a few months of delay. I could have sworn that I'd written something about it way back in time but checking the page again I've noticed there were no reviews on it, and I was like "What? Where's my thoughts on it?" Probably kept thinking so much about writing it that I might have forgotten. Anyway, here comes...with the best I can remember.
A decade after the release of "Philadelphia" cast and crew from that movie made this bonus material documentary for the movie in which they reveal the making of the movie and the impact it had on society back in 1993. We have Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Jonathan Demme, Antonio Banders and others sharing their experiences about what would become Hollywood's film landmark about AIDS, presented to a mainstream audience. We don't need to go back and say that this was THE movie that brought attention to the topic and the huge hit it was, awards and Oscars and such, even though there were other films about the topic made from 1980's and on ("Longtime Companion" was also nominated for an Oscar but who saw it besides the target audience?). Everyone involved discuss how controversial the ideas explored could have been - it deals with race issues, gay issues, AIDS, homophobia, family relations, legal process - and Hanks/Andrew Beckett story was taken from a real case that actually ended quite different from the movie (search for Geoffrey Bowers) and the deceased family even sued the film's producers from using plenty of Bowers events into the movie without giving him credit - the documentary doesn't discuss this, and the suit was resolved through a deal with the family.
I liked this movie in the way everybody seems honest about talking about the project, their expectations and motivations in going with the theme, hugely important to be dealt and to be presented to the mass audiences, still prejudiced and biased about HIV/AIDS and the people living with it, and the movie certainly brought the topic to the table of many families and people out there and it's a reference in a way - but 1993 gave us also two other films on the issue, "And the Band Played On" and the documentary "The Broadcast Tapes of Dr. Peter", great projects but under the radar of most people. Demme and company discuss matters of production, what they knew about the disease and who they knew who had it, they talk about many actors who had AIDS and had bit parts in the film and Ron Vawter's casting incident, one of the bravest fights ever taken by a director. Vawter was suffering from the disease and was cast in one important supporting role, he was a favorite actor of Demme - he starred in "The Silence of the Lambs". However, the studio was afraid of putting him in the movie in such notable role since they thought of him as a risk, he was insurable, could die at any moment to which Demme thought "Are we having this conversation about discrimination on a film that deals with this very same problem?" The director won the fight and now we all see Vawter playing one of the film "villains". I knew about this story before the documentary but it was nice to see Demme talking about it.
What I didn't know much and was quite surprised was the criticism after the movie's release. All positive reviews and such, as those behind the scenes flicks tend to go but they focused on the negative reaction they received from Larry Kramer - I read later on. A movie gets truly interesting when it focus on many different views and references. I have plenty of respect for Kramer for plenty of obvious reasons (being an anti-status quo in the gay community counts a heck of a lot) but I was disappointed with his negative review - I understand the criticism that "Philadelphia" is made to present a comfortable-for-straight view of gays, without display of affection and such (Demme talks about a deleted scene with Banderas and Hanks on bed having a small talk, scene cut from the final picture) and that particular story about discrimination and courtroom thing, but I don't dismiss Ron Nyswaner's script as being worthless or not valid. Considering the time, "Philadelphia" had to be presented that way to make people interested enough in seeing, and to find ways to dedicate themselves to the cause of AIDS as something that happened, was real and could be present among their families, friends, co-workers and all. A little bit of a positive and real portrayal of gays in the film would be enough in "Philadelphia" because dealing with 90% of homphobia spewed out of most of the characters was traumatizing and damaging enough to someone who saw this a kid. But sure, on the other hand, one may wonder: why on earth Hollywood couldn't thinking of adapting Kramer's genial play "The Normal Heart" into a film back then? We had to wait until 2014 when HBO moved on and made it - but they made the perfect film.
This ramble of opinions might have look sidetracked and not even close to my original thought review. But "People Like Us: Making Philadelphia" is something to be seen. Relevant, curious and filled with good and sad memories from the people involved. 9/10
Boys Beware (1961)
Bad enough to cause some irreparable harm
"Boys Beware" would be comic if it wasn't painfully tragic. I'd like to think this was one of those community projects directed to schools that were watched by a bunch of students that later grow up bigoted, full of prejudice and whatever they learned from the film was spread to many others, and by that standard I'd like to think only 500 people have seen it and forgot it. And the problem in saying "that was then, this is now" and we have evolved a hell of a lot doesn't change because we still have cultures and people who spread the pedophilia and homosexuality are a common link. And that's why "Boys Beware" hits a nerve and is a tragic piece because lots of people saw it and reinforced the notions of homophobia, prejudice and violence. The movie calls the attention of viewers by whenever a similar situation happening (of a man offering a ride home to a teenager or a kid) to call the cops; but the movie makes a full generalization saying all homosexuals are alike, always going for boys and what the paranoia develops on "frightened" folks: let us be violent and kill them. Too bad I'm not allowed to say what I think about this movie in pure and simple words.
This ridiculous waste of celluloid is one of those projects destined to warn children of the dangers of meeting strangers who want to have sex with boys. But the film keeps saying ad nauseam that those kinds are homosexuals, big emphasis throughout the film, and that they're ill. Comes a colorful and happy presentation of the life back in the 1960's, jolly music and it was all hilarious until the narrator goes by saying that homosexuality was an illness of the mind and you already have an idea on how far behind humanity were (still is, I'm afraid). The clueless creators don't know how to make the distinction between pedophiles and men who feel sexual attraction for other men. The failure of providing a distinction when already there was one available is what kills this dreadful and horrid film. And if there's the goal of saving lives, the movie only hits 10% right: if you're young don't go out with friendly strangers. If someday some guy say they watched this thing in high school and the recommendation was helpful because they escaped from a certain fella named Jeffrey Dahmer, or someone similar then I'll say a word of praise to this - but doing the math correctly, this kid would be too old to have met Dahmer but you get the point.
And it's so strange that a film like this came out at the same time when "The Children's Hour" was released, a movie that portrayed a gay character in a great humanistic light (despite the low outcome of the story, blame it on that era), and many other great films of the decade that were allowing more and more decent presentation of gay characters on the screen - far from the heaven of flicks and series we have these days but a good ladder up to go. But comes this wreck to ruin everything. It's not a total disaster because the so-called production values and presentation are strangely well-made. The voice-over works, the acting is relevant and it's nicely put together. What makes this unbearable and lame is the ideas conceived, the lack of discernment and the total disregard of truth, an incoherent and damaging short film. Careless and harmful project at its worst. 2/10
Simon and Chase: a brilliant partnership
They don't make'em like this anymore! Neither the song or the clip, it's something magical that only the 1980's could only bring it up and make it timeless, hilariously funny and great to watch even today. Sure, it was a different time, clips meant something back then but this has to be one the best works ever produced. And 30 years later, "Paul Simon: You Can Call Me Al" still impress with its outstanding qualities: simple idea, fast execution and some relevance. Comedy gold act starring Chevy Chase and Paul Simon, with Chase stealing the show from Simon while lip synching the song while Simon is only allowed to repeat the chorus and play several kinds of instruments throughout the video.
The song talks about a man having a midlife crisis asking his values and paths to follow, and the chorus comes from a real incident at a party Simon and his then wife Peggy Harper attended where a foreigner musician kept confusing the couple's name (he became Al and she became Betty). But in this particular case, what you see is more important (but the song is just perfect, with its mixture of rhythms, instruments and that funky bass in one small solo). The video, a concept created by Lorne Michaels, has Chase dubbing the song while Simon seems to play the man described in the song just waiting for his great chance to happen. Chase is hilarious in everything he does here, the minor jazz dance while Paul's singing is just priceless...but the act hits the grand moment when both start a choreography while playing the sax and the trumpet - gotta consider the small set they're in. Truly perfect.
Just to see how important this got: the song was part of Simon's album "Graceland", a landmark in his career and this single was his most successful effort from the solo career, and the album sold big despite the controversy about South Africa. And the partnership between Simon and Chase was good enough to secure another clip a few years later, "Proof" also starring Steve Martin (but that clip doesn't have a page here). Watch it, you won't regret it. 10/10
Danny Wylde (2015)
Wylde/Zeischegg - Reflections of the man and the performer
A blog and a throbbing admiration for the work of (former?) porn star Danny Wylde has brought me to this curious short film. I put the former along the quotation mark because I'm not all that sure about his retiring, since I've been hearing about it for quite some time - as of 2016, no new films on his resume. But "Danny Wylde" isn't all about the star of more than 200 adult movies in 8 years, it's also about the man behind the famous name, Christopher Zeischegg, and his experiences in the business. In case you don't know, he also happens to be a writer and his semi-autobiographical short story "On the Moral Imperative to Commodify Our Sexual Suffering" was the basis of this film, quite condensed but quite close to the writing work as well. Helps a great deal if you read his whole essay, an honest yet weird talk about the porn industry, fantasies versus reality, the money factor and some usual bizarre things on the way.
The film uses of some of his verbatim from the essay, like his first paid sexual experience; a brief analysis on the scene he had to perform with older women and the cash he'd get for those scenes; and it's not all about glamour, it's also about the downside or collateral effects if you prefer, when he narrates about why he quit porn - he mentions about being bored but we get that it's more than that when he says about the process of using drugs to keep hard for long hours and the effect it causes on the body, and for like the first time ever, I really thought about how working in porn also affects men - the discussion goes it affects more women for lots (and obvious) of reasons. But his description put more perspective on the topic (hey I love "Boogie Nights" to death but if only they had stuff like that presented to audiences!).
What I mentioned was narrated by Zeischegg/Wylde's sexy voice; the images present him stripped down of all his clothes as if preparing to shoot a scene from his next XXX project but with some strange variation: there's an obscure man with a camera, but he's not there just to film the naked actor, he's also there to use him the way he wants by cutting his chest, make some strange "art" and then place that "art" on Danny's chest by using a stapler. And porn, most of the time, is so much about uncovering the real thing, always down and dirty, that I kept thinking if those cuts and nailing were the real thing on Danny. Adding to that, comes the producer/co-writer of the project claiming this was a softcorn snuff. If there's trickery involved, well done because it sure looked real. And it echoes on Wylde's story as well: how much is real and how much is imagined or just created?
Many may wonder what's the aim of the short? What's the man getting at? It's hard to know. It's too reduced to form a great whole. A critique on the business he has endured for far too long without being all that compensated? Maybe. A certain sense of losing a lot of yourself in order to find it? Maybe. The great advantage of Zeischegg's essay is the format, he's a skilled writer with plenty of stories to tell and ideas to share (real or not) and from there you get the chance to know more about the man and the path he traveled...and those tellings were compelling, they evidenced that entering in the business was a quick way to get money to pay for his film education at the same time that money didn't come all that easy and flourishing by the thousands. I guess the film tries to work that existential reflection but without the same effect. But somehow it works.
More than just physically naked, here we have Wylde fully revealed in many different ways, possibly heart and soul. It was a different project and I liked it. 6/10
Altman's lost state of mind. This movie.
Robert Altman doing a psychological horror film. Hmm, okay, seemed interesting. After all, the creator of "MASH" and "The Player" was talented and courageous enough to helm a film of almost every genre available, with limited resources and presenting his own method of cinema: free of rules, realistic, artistic and almost always fascinating despite the lack of audience for the majority of his works. Drama, comedy, sci-fi, musical, thriller, film-noir...you name it: he made it all. Unfortunetaly "Images" isn't the kind of film where I can say I was enthralled or deeply invested. It was too much on and off, with wonderful sequences put together with prolonged dreary moments that managed to obscure its qualities. The final scene comes and you wondered how simplistic and off-putting most of the film were.
Susannah York plays Cathyrn, a children's book author in need of peace and quiet to finish her latest work, and those solitude moments will be find at a country home along with her husband (Rene Auberjonois). Well, not really. As the days move, she sees strange visions that disturb her peace and sanity, or the least of that she still has. From strange phone calls telling her husband is having an affair to appearances from a ghostly former lover (the always effective Marcel Bozzuffi); strange noises and occurrences; and the odd behavior of a neighbor/friend of the family (Hugh Millais) who happens to be a former lover of Catheryn and who still feels a deep attraction to her, so peculiar and intrusive to the point of the man seducing her while the clueless husband is on the room next to them. Are those visions and scenarios real or imagined? And what are they're meaning to the woman? Sane or going crazy? We go to movies like this to find out how it all gets together.
The problem with "Images" is that, after years of watching horror films or even psychological thrillers one gets easily fed up in seeing clichés after clichés. I was remind of the brilliant "Repulsion". Some parts brought me minor memories from Louis Malle's surrealistic tale "Black Moon" - it gets even more coincidental that Cathryn Harrison (she plays Millais' daughter and Catheryn's only ally) stars on both Malle and Altman films. The visual, the concept, the presentation...it all feels made before - but you can argue that "Black Moon" in that case was the copy film because it got released later, but the order when you watch is how it affects the experience or the enjoyment.
Sure, it's edgy, filled with suspense and shock, Vilmos Szigmond's careful cinematography and John Williams' appropriate (though not memorable) score are first-rate. It thrills. However, I always think that a horror film can only succeed if the drama is good. Otherwise, you're just wanting for everyone to die or get killed because there's not enough room to make you invested in their story, in their problems. It must have a great dramatic element, with some life relevance or slightly believable. "Images" almost got there. It's easy to say that Altman was portraying a bigger-than-life idea of what schizophrenia might be with the duality of real vs. imagination, and the consequences it leads when those clash at each other with just one person having to deal with both sides, not knowing how to act or cope with their current reality. That's great drama. It only gets wronged and confused due to a mumbled presentation, that doesn't satisfy neither fully convince, and the whole children book narrated by York (her own real creations) were awfully distracting. The movie feels more concerned in terrifying than giving us a relatable story - and a movie has to be both. It helps a lot. The whole time I kept wondering how low in self-esteem Cathryn must have been to get involved with three misogynist, self-absorbed jerks.
Instead of pouring the odd horrific elements from time to time, Altman should have insisted in developing little by little, just like he does in the menacing phone-call scene (that was genius!) than evolves but the drama keeps on real throughout. It was too bizarre seeing the ghost coming and going, then one face changing to another. If schizophrenia goes like that, and in such a hurry and state, then I guess the movie succeed in its portrayal. Another touch of genius from Altman is with the characters/actors names traded: Susannah plays Cathryn, Cathryn plays Susannah, Rene plays Hugh, Hugh plays Marcel and Marcel plays Rene. I'd like to be on this film set and see how communications worked between them - must have been hilarious specially if there's method actors involved. The performances? So and so, nothing so brilliant and York only got Best Actress in Cannes due to lack of good competition.
Final verdict: a few years from now and I might rewatch it and find more rewarding qualities. As of now, it goes as one of Altman's most disappointing efforts but far from worst. 4/10
O Convento (1995)
Such a disappointment. Somewhat filled with good intentions but its disappointing all the same
It didn't had to be this way but that's life. "O Convento" marks as my first Manoel de Oliveira film and it breaks my heart to say that it was a painful disappointment. I always reverenced the man for his longevity, his passion in making movies even while being 100-something years-old, to me that was a miracle and something that hardly ever happens. However, like any other great art, his movies are quite hard to find, it's not easily accessible unless you're going to film festivals, hunting them on stores or the net, never displayed on TV. Almost happened with me seeing a film of his in a public station TV network and that was "Viagem Ao Principio do Mundo", great movie and that was my first experience watching some of his work...but I didn't get the chance to see the final half hour. A commercial got in, then the network went off the air for the final duration of the movie and when they returned, it was regular programming and that's it. Never got the chance to see any of Mr. Oliveira films up until this one, the official first of his I've seen.
The central idea of "O Convento" ("The Convent") seems brilliant when you hear it. It carries a mystery that you desperately want to get solved. It focus on an intellectual couple (played by the talented John Malkovich and the eternal Catherine Deneuve) who travel to a Portuguese island trying to find evidences about Shakespeare real origins, whom according to the professor, played by Malkovich, the author of "Macbeth" was in fact Spanish. The material he needs to access is located inside a convent guarded by a mysterious guide, a couple of caretakers and a young scholar. Haunting and almost fascinating until the main gets sidetracked by the guide, who knows plenty of historical facts and starts tempting Deneuve character; and the scholar who distracts Malkovich with many references of Goethe's Faust. That's when the movie get awfully pretentious by using reference after reference that doesn't add to anything and next thing you know those distractions are a work from the devil. So, Shakespeare has a pact with the devil and he needs to hide his Spanish origins from the general public? The couple's research wasn't the main reason to go to that strange island? It doesn't make any sense and it feels empty after a promising beginning and some effective thrills in the middle.
What bothered me the most - besides the "story" - was the indecisiveness of Oliveira is sticking with one spoken or one written language through the whole film. I know, Mr. Oliveira is one of the most respected auteurs of the true cinema of the world, gathering actors and talents from all around, great, but having the characters shifting their words from Portuguese to English than French and German was a huge mess, specially if you watch some version that doesn't have any captions. I suffered with that from part to part, and despite being a Portuguese language native...I had plenty of trouble with getting the dialogues right. Fun (or sad) fact for those who don't know: Brazilian Portuguese is one thing; Portugal's Portuguese is another thing and honestly, the latter can only be understood with captions because it sounds too thick, too fast and except for the only female character, I couldn't get half of what they were saying. I missed important bits from the movie? I think so. But whatever the case, I'd understood the feeling of a scene, the rhythm of each moment if this was indeed the true cinema of the world formed to provide a relevant discussion about society, people, cultures and life. Hours were taken away from me and there was nothing so eloquent and well versed about anything.
If the story doesn't help, the cast seems lost and the then 80-something director wasn't inspired, at least there's the frightening musical score that is purely out of this world, a true horror score that comes to threat the characters relative peace in that creepy old place. That kept me going, even after all the dialogues didn't make any more sense...because something spooky or revealing would have to come in the end. With a conventional storytelling, "O Convento" would have been a memorable piece of art. Instead, we have a weak film that seems to impress a dozen of folks who think they got something from it. I long to see that other movie of Mr. Oliveira because there was something remarkable there, things that can hardly be found in movies these days. 4/10
La partita lenta (2009)
A stylistic and vivid experience. The power and magic of rugby
"La Partita Lenta" ("The Slow Match") reveals the great beauty of seeing little details about what makes a rugby match become something vividly special. Acclaimed director Paolo Sorrentino creates a sport-themed short film that is an artistic poetry in motion, beautiful, told and presented in a simple fashion. His exercise in style is a tremendous work: black-and-white cinematography; mute all the main characters and only allowing background sounds that aren't actually important, so even if you don't speak Italian you can watch with no problems, and at last but not least the precise and magic use of slow motion during the awaited match that makes all more interesting, capturing the precise movements of the players, trying to make a score. Those who enjoy the sport will love every minute of it, and those who don't know much about it or don't care much will definitely find some brilliance and some effective power at each frame.
Before the match, we are introduced to some characters: father, mother and son, with the men in the family being part of the same team. The communication between them is kept to a minimum, being the highest peak the contact between them in the locker room along with the other members of the team, stretching and similar exercises, focusing on the challenges they're about to face. And then comes the spectacle that is something that can't be defined with words, it's something that has to be seen, has to be felt and experienced. Belissimo! 9/10
O Amuleto de Ogum (1974)
What a waste...of time, money, celluloid, talent, everything.
We sent this to Cannes? Wish I could be there with that audience to see the reaction from all the foreign viewers. I'm somewhat ashamed to know about such fact because it's an embarrassing film to show to an intellectual with high expectations audience who at the same festival had the pleasure to see "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore", "The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser" and "The Passenger". Sorry, but Nelson Pereira dos Santos' experiment doesn't get near the likes of Scorsese, Herzog or Antonioni. "Memórias do Cárcere" was a huge triumph of his but Cannes didn't include it in the line-up for the Palme D'or. I can't have the facts of that time, that's fine but where's the contemporary voices who watch this film today and say this is a good movie? Right, Youtube comments that doesn't qualify the film in any valuable way. Goes from good to great, to nice and cool, they say. But they're not here so you get the real deal according to what I saw.
It's cheaper than cheap filmmaking at its lowest from the very beginning, a lousy opening scene with three thugs trying to rob a blind man, who somehow overpowers them by telling a story about a simple man with a unique power: he has a closed body and nothing can't hit or hurt him. That's what we follow from then on, the story of Gabriel (Ney Santanna) who gets used by a crime lord (Joffre Soares) to commit several crimes, at my view quite idiotic because he goes to kill folks who don't show any resistance, they're always taken by surprise and at no point they shoot the "power" guy. How do we know he's really unbreakable? We're told that Gabriel was protected by orixás, when his mother asked them for protection after the killing of his father, and that protection comes from an amulet he constantly wears, hence "O Amuleto de Ogum" ("Ogum's Amulet").
The previous mentioned moments are actually quite engaging, easy to follow but strange to accept and digest. What turns the movie around is when Gabriel is targeted by his boss and crime colleagues because he's getting too visible during the crimes, making mistakes and attracting attention to the group. He's very young, awfully impressionable and doesn't know exactly how to react to the luxury, the cars and the women in his life (he's far from smart but knows how to shoot and kill and not feel a thing about it). So, how can you terminate someone who can't be terminated? It's plans after plans from the mobster to execute Gabriel, a disastrous mess after another and too bad the movie goes the same way as well, not knowing how to properly make us connect to such a story. Pereira dos Santos doesn't have any worthy message to bring with this junk. It's just an entertaining story? It's about the power true believers in religion have over fake religious people, who tend to use it to obtain power? Or a statement that power can be trusted to people who don't have the responsibility to use them? Whatever that message was, it was certainly lost on me.
And the vessels that were supposed to carry the movie haven't even got the chance to set sail, sunk from scene one, and those are the actors. Santanna is the director's son and what uncharismatic, wooden and strange performer he is. Not entirely his fault, the character he plays is poorly developed all around: hero, anti-hero, villain or the least menacing guy from that group? Hard to know and I didn't care. The rest of the cast goes the same way, all reading cue cards or trying to look important in front of camera. The great Joffre Soares is an exception with his powerful and believable presence as the main villain. He's slightly over-the-top but in a movie like this, it's not a bad thing to do.
Though flawed as a drama, ridiculous a comedy and amateurish in almost all accounts, "O Amuleto de Ogum" reserved some good moments, such as the sequence where Gabriel is confronted by a colleague during a lame fight where he accidentally dropped some food on the guy's shirt. The guy shoots Gabriel several times and nothing happens, and the crowd goes to their knees, claiming a miracle. Great sequence. Also worthy of mention, a few torture scenes involving police brutality against criminal teens, which took me by surprise not much for the shock value but one must consider the film's release back in the heated years of the military regime, which always denied torture ever happened in their prisons yet those scenes escaped without censorship, so that's something to be amazed from a film of that era.
Final and simple verdict: a waste and a mess. 3/10