Archive for the ‘Brasil’ Category

Even though the movie has a lot of flaws, especially in its storytelling, you do keep watching until the end. The acting is great. And the direction is good. But it’s the road trip itself that fascinates the most. You hardly ever see movies that take place in rural Brazil. It’s always Rio or Sao Paulo. Or Recife. Or Salvador. But this time around, most scenes are shot outside of the cities.

The story focuses on the search of a father (an excellent Wagner Moura) for his son, who left the house after an argument with both parents and is missing. He apparently bought a horse and took it up north. Along the way, the father – a wealthy doctor – is confronted with himself, the feelings for his family members and the state in which other – less privileged – Brazilians live.


Bruna Surfestinha – *(*)

Posted: January 12, 2018 in 2011, Brasil, Drama, X1/2

Soft porn on Netflix!

Some ten years ago a Brazilian call girl wrote a best seller, recounting her life as an escort. The book was an instant success, as it was based on her already popular blog, an online diary on what happened in her kinky life. She became the most famous prostitute of the country, but also ended up being addicted to drugs.

Her rise to fame and her downfall are also made into a movie, called Bruna Surfestinha in Brazil (her escort name), but relabeled Confessions Of A Brazilian Call Girl for the international market.

It’s not a good movie. Especially the beginning and the end are crap. But strangely enough, the middle part is exciting. The main reason why the beginning doesn’t work is the fact that actress Deborah Secco is way too old to play a 17-year old teenager who runs away from home after being bullied in school. You see an older actress trying to be young. It’s not acting at all. It’s embarrassing. You also don’t really get to learn why she leaves home. Okay, she got bullied in school because her first boyfriend told everyone else that she swallows and now the rest of the guys in school think that’s what she does easily. And she doesn’t feel at home in the house of her adoptive family, of which the brother seems to bully her even more than the kids at school. Yet, all that is not a clear reason why she left her home to go work as a prostitute in Sao Paulo. It just doesn’t make sense to believe that the biggest attention whore (literally) of Brazil started her career after being bullied at home and in school. That’s not a plausible reason.

She’s a nymphomaniac and she’s curious to experiment. Let’s just call it what it is. The young woman is just eager to make money with something she likes: sex.

The story really gets intriguing when she starts writing the blog and the editing theme quickly shows all kinds of clients that come by. That’s the fun part. There’s even a few wtf  sexual fantasy moments. But it’s interesting.

But then she gets addicted to drugs and she becomes a mess. And again, Deborah Secco disappoints. Not sure why she got so many awards. It’s really not good acting at all.

Apparently the book is a quick read and is written like it’s done by a young adult. Maybe the book (however bad it may be) is still better than the movie. It’s intriguing. Sure. But the focus is too much on the glamourous life and not so much on the hardships. There are scenes (especially at the end when she does a sex marathon) where you think: what kind of life is this? But the whole build up to that scene, just doesn’t make you feel sorry. It’s clearly her choice to have sex with several men, for money. And fame.

Okay, it’s not a must see action cop movie, but it doesn’t bore at all. And the story is set in Brazil, rather than LA or New York. So that’s a plus. It’s about a woman, who does a career switch by getting out of the tourism sector and into the police department. Before she knows it, she needs to participate in a special assignment. In a small town several miles from Rio De Janeiro, two kids get killed during a shoot out between rivaling gangs. The Rio special police force is sent over there to help find the criminals and bring back peace. However, the longer the elite team is there, the more they realize that those rivaling gangs are not the only criminal town and corruption is everywhere. But once they start investigating into it, they get a lot of opposition. The story isn’t original and it’s all very predictable. The presence of the woman (pretty, confident, a bit high maintenance) is first frowned upon by the macho police force, but of course she gets credit at the end. There are few surprises. You see it coming from miles ahead. But it’s entertaining. The acting is good though. That Cleo Pires is a joy to watch !


Jonas – *

Posted: December 27, 2017 in 2015, Brasil, Crime/Detective, X

In the days leading up to Carnival, a young adolescent finally feels confident to share his feelings for the daughter of his mother’s boss. They have known each other since they were kids, but the social class differences made them go separate ways as teenagers. She’s a big flirt though and loves the attention. Not only from him, but from everyone around the block where they live, including a drug dealing criminal.

The first 20 minutes or so, we get introduced to these stereotypical characters. The flirtatious girl, who gets everything she wants.  The confident local criminal. His dumb associates, who compensate not having a brain by shouting loud and aggressively when talking. The hard-working mom, who raises two children from different dads. The cheating husband who’s also an alcoholic. The wealthy parents of the girl, who rely on their housemaids to do everything, from cleaning to raising their spoiled brats. Sigh. Yes, it’s Brazil. Yes all these types exist. Yes, it’s boring to see them every single time.

The story get ridiculous when the main character of the story, Jonas, finds out that the girl of his dreams is secretly having an affair with the drug dealer. He confronts them and in a sudden move takes the gun from the drug dealer (because that’s what drug dealers in Brazil do: walk around with a gun) and shoots him. Dead. He drugs the girl (because sleeping pills are easily available), cleans up the mess, gets rid of the body, leaves the scene of the crime and ties up the girl inside the frame of a huge construction looking like whale, which will be a big attraction in the carnival parade. This happens without any witnesses. At all. In Sao Paulo, the busiest and largest metropole of South America.

Okay, fine. It’s a premise. It doesn’t make you stop watching the movie, but it doesn’t feel like it’s going to get any better. However, the acting by Jesuita Barbosa and Laura Nelva is good and somehow you want to know what’s coming next. But the story fails. This young kid holds the girl of his dreams captive. And she kind of likes it. In the mean time of course, the parents are worried and the drug dealing gang starts missing their leader. But their reactions don’t make sense. All of the action from every single character is very implausible.


Getting a Netflix account will make up for not traveling far this winter! No need to re-visit Salvador do Bahia if you got movies like Ó Paí, Ó on your tv. Not sure what other ‘world cinema is available on the streaming network, but that’s to find out in the near future.

This movie is very confusing though. It starts of as a musical comedy, but it ends as a drama with a message. The confusing part is what that message is. Throughout the movie you get to see Salvador the way no other travel documentary has shown it. It’s a beautiful and exciting city. A lot of the sights that tourists want to see are shown in this feature. The stories are set in the famous Pelourinho area with its colorful houses and the charming cobblestoned streets. If you’ve been to the place, you want to go back as soon as you see it on screen. However, the reality of the city is harsh and it’s like this whole advertising clip ends with the message: don’t go there!

The first characters to appear on-screen are played by Lazaro Ramos and Emanuelle Araujo, both from Bahia. They immediately have a sexy scene together in which he paints on her naked body after he just showed off dancing to a samba beat. Within ten minutes you’re thinking: wow, a movie about gorgeous Salvador with even more gorgeous Brazilians making out. However, half an hour later or so, twenty more characters are introduced and they all represent a stereotype. An hour into the movie, the list of clichés is so long that you can’t take it anymore. But then drama sets in and there are some strong scenes with social commentary. It’s like the parody becomes a political manifest.

The clichés are confronting though. If someone else makes a movie about Brazil and adds too many clichés, they get burned. If a local makes a movie about Brazil and fills it with even more clichés, they get heralded. A Brazilian friend told me the movie was well perceived and quite important for the local community, but for a Western European this movie feels awkward. Sure, everyone in Brazil or who has visited Brazil can relate to some of those stereotypes. But to see them all in one movie is confronting.

The hypocritical evangelist who worships the bible, but loves the gossip of sexual adventures by others. The white trash drug dealing nut-head, who blurts out racist insults to feel better about himself. The cheating husband of a pregnant wife, who fucks the ‘mandatory’ transgender. The emigrant who lies about her successful life in Europe. The rascal kids who find it amusing to rip off tourists. The promiscuous girl who get another abortion because she always forgets to use a condom. The corrupt police officer who needs to keep an eye on the store of his landlord in order to postpone paying for last month’s rent. And then there’s the candomblé (Bahia’s spiritual religion), acarajé (great street food), the music from Olodum (Salavador’s famous carnaval drum band), flirtatious behavious by all, the shouting when communicating, etc…

It’s an interesting movie to watch. But it’s a tough one to sit through. Most of the acting is terrible. It’s just over the top. Wagner Moura for instance is so ridiculous that it’s not even funny. And he’s a good actor! Lazaro Ramos however is excellent. That one scene where he replies to a racist insult is quite powerful. The story though, that’s another weak point. It’s a collection of stories happening during the days before Carnaval. They do intertwine, but it’s nothing like Crash or Short Cuts where they merge.

Again, it’s not really clear what the director wanted to tell. It’s both a lot and nothing at all.

It all looks a bit surreal at the end, when a group of underprivileged kids from a favela in Sao Paulo perform a classic musical piece perfectly. Especially since months before the concert, none of them could even read scores or hold their instruments the right way. But hey, it’s cinema. And it comes with a good story. Based on true facts apparently. Far from original, true. But it’s set in Brazil and doesn’t quite feel the same as similar Hollywood stories. A talented violin player can’t secure a place in the National Symphonic Orchestra and needs to teach music in a public school to make some money. The school is surrounded by drug dealers and other criminals and even in the band are some kids who do credit card scamming in their after hours. But the teacher somehow manages to inspire the kids and they end up performing well, making him confident enough to audition for the orchestra again. See. All very predictable.

It’s an okay movie. But the acting by some of the kids is very basic. And the story doesn’t dig deep enough. We never get to learn why the teacher, who is so talented, doubts his own capacities so much. We also don’t get to learn more about the kids and their situation. Sure, there’s that one scene where this girl shouts out that playing music helps her escape from everyday problems. But it feels forced. This could have been a good tv series. Now it’s just an okay movie. Lazaro Ramos is great tough. And Kaique De Jesus (that name!) is set for more starring roles!

Minha Mãe E Uma Peça: O Filme

Posted: April 11, 2017 in 2013, Brasil, Comedy

In an attempt to understand what’s popular in Brazil, I tried to watch this blockbuster comedy, available online with English subtitles. (see below)

Not sure why I even bothered finishing.

Based on a theatre play, the comedy focuses on a middle-aged woman who’s fed up with her divorced life and her annoying teenage kids. She leaves her apartment and stays at an aunt for a while, reminiscing on her life in flashbacks. In the mean time the kids realize they miss their mom.

I guess the humor is universal. The mother is played by a man. hahahahahahahahahahahna. The children are played by adults. One is fat. The other is effeminate. hahahahahahahahahahahahaha. A woman farts. hahahahahahahahahahahahaha. The social divide is present again, but this time the cleaning lady shouts back at her boss. hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. And everyone SHOUTS. As if everyone in the cast thinks they are on stage and nobody in the audience will be able to hear what they say. hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

In case you haven’t understood. There is more irony in the previous paragraph than in the entire movie.

The sequel is an even bigger hit.

It’s humor. It works. Just not for me.