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A Culpa (1980)
The ultimate Portuguese satire
"A Culpa" is a comedy-drama-horror movie about the Portuguese mind and soul in 1973, the year after the Revolution that ended with a 48-year dictatorship. It is unavailable on DVD and it is not shown regularly on TV. I had the luck to watch it yesterday, in a beautiful 35mm copy. It is a pity that a movie like this is just forgotten from Portuguese Cinema. Even though it seems antiquated, continues to provide many laughs and very relevant philosophical and social material. The movie has to be urgently "resurrected". It is directed by António Victorino d 'Almeida, known conductor and promoter of music and culture in the country, which should have continued in this area. A great surprise!
Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)
A great movie, unjustly forgotten
After watching this fascinating movie for the first time, I picked up a book, in one of those coincidences that life gives to us that are completely unlikely, with the name Famous Quotes From Famous People. And in one of the various quotes that were printed in the pages of that little book, there was one that caught my attention, because it corresponded to the opinion I formed about this excellent work of art that my eyes had the pleasure to behold. The quote is from Robert Frost, one of the greatest authors of north-American poetry, and he says: "It is absurd to think that the only way to tell if a poem is lasting is to wait and see if it lasts. The right reader of a good poem can tell the moment it strikes him that he has taken an immortal wound that he will never get over it." And if we change the "Poem" mentioned by Frost for "Movie", the opinion of the writer perfectly suits to Angels with Dirty Faces... and to many other movies I love, I confess. I say this because I think this film, directed by Michael Curtiz (the filmmaker who would make, some years later, that unforgettable classic called Casablanca, with Humphrey Bogart too, but here in Angels he has a supporting - but terrific! - role), has always been in the shadow of other great movies, much more popular, and this one had just endured because it obtained, over the decades, a legion of numerous fans of the treasures of Cinema (the picture has now a score of 8.0 on IMDb, which is very good). But if it were only "time" causes, as Frost said, Angels with Dirty Faces would be lost in that decade (not so) far away that was the thirties. If we expected the film would endure over the years (having neither great acclaim from critics the following decades, or the recognition of major institutions such as the American Film Institute), it would be as if it never existed. I mean, watching the quality of the negative (and we do not know if it is "the" negative) that was converted for the DVD so-so special edition of this motion picture, it's noticeable that it never had appropriate conditions of conservation (there are various faults, very visible, in the reels and in many frames, throughout the film).
But I said the movie was in the shadow. And then I talk again in Casablanca. That is, probably, the most popular title from Michael Curtiz's filmography. But it hid many other great movies of the director, such as this one. And I love Casablanca, it is one of my other favorite movies of all time. But it's sad when a motion picture almost "destroy" all the work of a filmmaker who, by the way, was one of the greatest professionals in his area at that time, because Curtiz has so much to explore (in quality and in quantity - in the year Angels was release, Curtiz made three other movies, almost simultaneously. And today, that's a big achievement, if we compare with the super- productions, many of them so uninteresting, that take too long to be made...), and this wonderful picture is the example of that quality, of the American classic Cinema that is impossible to remake today, because they are of a decade and of a period of Hollywood where the excellence of the production of the great directors were so inspiring, touching, and original. Angels with Dirty Faces is a movie of a genre that was fashionable at the time it debuted: the gangster movies, and when were made terrific and terrible and "standard" titles in that genre. It is like the westerns. Many of them were made in the "golden ages" of the cowboy movie stories, but very few of them stood out. Many of the gangster movies had just beatings, corruption and vulgar love stories...
However, there are always isolated spots in the middle of the ocean, and Angels with Dirty Faces elevates the genre of the gangster film to a higher level, as can also give some touches of film noir and good drama that attach to this work a superlative quality. The story is told in a fluid way, very quickly but without losing any shred of credibility.
The result of this variety of stories (which are all very simple, but with more depth than they appear) is a powerful and unparalleled work in the Classic Cinema. Michael Curtiz's achievement is intelligent and emotionally overwhelming, and I enjoyed the strong use of light in the scenarios, the photography of the scenes (which loses some of its glimmer because of the degraded copy of the DVD), the performances of the actors, the script, which has great quotes and is very well planned, executed and interpreted. The soundtrack is excellent and fits perfectly with the whole film, being well selected and organized. I emphasize also the camera angles, approaching us from the characters and the environments that surround them (and with that Curtiz showed one of its greatest strengths and talents), and that was the cause of my excitement with the last moments of the film ((such as the apotheosis of Cagney and O'Brien, showing that friendship and human dignity has no limits, regardless of the environment in which we were born). Angels with Dorty Faces is, for me, and I say this without fear, a masterpiece. This movie shows how certain classics, even if they can not withstand the time, the lists of critics and all those things, they can always, if they're good, get a cult of fans delighted with it, managing to increase interest in discovering this movie treasures.
Breaking Bad (2008)
The greatest show of all time. Period.
I've never been so addicted by a TV American drama series like Breaking Bad. This was an all new experience that I started the past year and finished some minutes ago. This was something that many of my friends had experienced with some shows that fascinated their minds, but were always not so interesting for me. I am more a guy of movies, but Breaking Bad caught me by surprise, and changed my entire life. I never saw anything like this and, I presume, I will not see, from now on, anything that could be so good as Breaking Bad. I'm so grateful to the genius Vince Gilligan, who created a story and characters that are so human (and that is what people most like to see on TV, that's for sure) and to the great actors and technicians that made this "magnum opus" be possible. Thanks to Breaking Bad, I changed my way about drama fiction in American television business, and it make me belief that, despite the economic interests of the guys who just want to know about the damn ratings, there is always space in networks for works that are made with intelligence. Because is shows like Breaking Bad that make that history, the History of Television and the History of the creativity of the humankind and the imagination. imagination that has to be seen as an important factor for the creation of great art. Yes, because Breaking Bad is art, from beginning to end. THANK YOU GUYS!
From a great Portuguese fan, Rui.
American Madness (1932)
One of the best movies of Frank Capra (and not so many popular, unfortunately)!
Usually, people know the director Frank Capra by the wonderful masterpiece «It's a Wonderful Life». Another ones know also for the fantastic «Mr Smith goes to Washington», «You can't take it with you» or «It Happened One Night». But the majority of people didn't saw this movie, «American Madness». And I think this is very bad because this movie is very, very good! With a wonderful cast and a superb script that shows the moral values and the ethic that Capra would work in other movies, «American Madness» is a forgotten picture, with no reason for that, because it is an almost-masterpiece from Frank Capra, that demonstrates how kindness and be good to each other have so many importance for our own lives. This is a great movie, that anyone have to watch!
A Portuguese film that touch at every country in the world
«Jaime» is a great Portuguese movie. This kind of movies is very rare to found, especially in Portugal, where the cinema industry is very small and just few films are good. «Jaime» is a story about a boy that works to have money for his dreams and to help his divorced parents. The script is very good, and most important, REALISTIC - another thing that is very rare to found in Portuguese films - and we have very good interpretations of the cast and especially from Saul (Jaime in the movie), a brilliant kid that unfortunately didn't continue acting after «Jaime». The soundtrack is nice and the direction too. So... why don't you watch this movie?
Balada da Praia dos Cães (1987)
It's not a masterpiece... However, it's a good Portuguese film
I saw this movie on TV a few months ago, and I like it. It's not a great movie that change history, but it has some of the Portuguese soul in the years of the dictatorship. It is based on José Cardoso Pires book, an experimental detective story that is set on the sixties. The highlight of themovie is Raul Solnado, here in his best drama performance. José Cardoso Pires didn't want Solnado to the main role (inspector Elias Santana), but when he saw the movie, he changed his idea. Many people thought he was just a comedian, until this movie came out. It's a good adaptation of the novel (and I admit, I read the book and I think that the film is more enjoyable than the book, because this author is good, but not very enjoyable to read). Watch it.
Cristóvão Colombo - O Enigma (2007)
Look! It's a Manoel de Oliveira movie! Oh yeah! It's boring as hell!
This movie is bad in every single aspect. Actors, direction, script... Many people think that this is a good film... for what? For the director. yeah yeah good... Oliveira is 103 years old, so for that he is the best director in the world. The Portuguese cinema is not this crap films... If you want to see Portuguese movies, you have two options: first: you are mad and you have to go to the doctor, or second, watch the old Portuguese movies. At least, they are enjoyable, happy... this film, my God, it's the worst movie I have seen until today! If you like cinema, the real cinema, that the actors, the director, the script are good and the movie is enjoyable, don't watch this. It's a complete waste of time.
Life of Brian (1979)
One of the best comedies of all time!
I have to say. I'm catholic, but I love Monty Python. For me, they are the best comedians of all time. This movie, «Life of Brian», doesn't attack your religion. They just made a great parody to the bible epics like «Ben-Hur» or «Quo Vadis», taking their comedy to a level of a masterpiece. I love it, and don't forget it, I am catholic. You don't need to be atheist to like this movie. You just have to have a big sense of humor and, of course, understand the British comedy. This is the best. But I prefer, for some reasons, the «holy grail» because on that movie they put non-sense at every single minute of the movie. But this one is very good too! Watch it.