Here's what he had to say about his first film.
Lev here. A funny thing happened while we were waiting in the line-up to see Linha De Passe at the Ryerson. A woman came up to us and asked what movie we were seeing. I replied, "Linha De Passe", and she said, "Kings of something?". I said the title again, and she stared at me shocked. "Is that foreign??" she asked incredulously. I said yes. "From what country?" she asked. "Brazil", I replied. Then she looked at me, completely shocked and walked on. We had a good laugh.Those of you with steel trap memories will recognize the name even if no face is attached. Corveloni won Best Actress @ Cannes this past May, besting Angelina Jolie's highly touted star turn as the bereft mother in Clint Eastwood's Changeling.
The screening itself was uneventful. The directors were no-shows. A woman came out and told us that that they couldn't be there cause the film was opening that day in Brazil. Unfortunate.
Onto the film. Linha De Passe is a compelling, yet flawed movie. It follows the lives of a family (a mother and four sons) living in a Brazilian slum, each with their own aspirations. Directors Walter Salles (The Motorcycle Diaries, Central Station) and Daniela Thomas have no trouble creating an engaging story, but their political mugging is much too heavy-handed and their futile attempts to link the film's five principal characters to different facets of Brazilian culture eviscerate any emotional interest we have in journey's. The only character who comes across as fully formed and human is Cleuza, the mother, played by Sandra Corveloni. Never playing up her flaws or saintly-hood she comes across as the most defined and realistic of the characters.
If this all sounds very negative, well, it's not as bad as it sounds. Mauro Pinheiro Jr.'s hand-held cinematography adds nothing new to the genre, but he's not afraid to stick the camera on a tripod every now and then, and balances the more shaky close-ups with lovely widescreen shots of the city. The editing, while frantic in the first ten minutes, loosens up, and deftly handles the multiple story lines.If you're reading from Brazil do you think Linha de Passe will be the Brazilian Oscar submission? Will they like it more than Lev? He's planning on seeing The Wrestler and a few other notables soon. Hopefully he'll keep sending notes.
Too bad Gustavo Santaolalla seems completely uninterested in straying outside of his comfort zone and creating a new score. His drones and guitars which have served numerous other films brilliantly, are becoming increasingly stale. Overall, Linha De Passe deserves somewhere in between a C+ or B-. A B on a generous day.
How about you out there reading. Have you ever been to TIFF? Eager to go again?