Monday, September 08, 2008

Lev in Brazil. By Way of Toronto.

TFE readers meet Lev (to your left). He's only 17 but he's been a Film Experience fan for a few years and he offered to send his take on the films he sees @ the Toronto International Film Festival. Since I couldn't make it this year, and since Lev has genuinely good taste (his personal favourites include Magnolia, Cries & Whispers, Notorious, Fargo, Chinatown, A Woman Is A Woman, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Bringing Up Baby, Dr. Strangelove, Rosemary's Baby, The Piano and other delectable films) I am pleased to share them.

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.

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.
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.
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.

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.
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.

How about you out there reading. Have you ever been to TIFF? Eager to go again?
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13 comments:

César said...

As a brazilian, I think maybe the perception we have are a little bit different about the movie. Like he said that the directors were too much heavy-handed, and here we have the perception that they managed themselves to control the emotions, like in one of the final scenes with the motorboy. Here the movie is having a great reception, maybe what looks strange, improbable or "unlinked" to foreigns is more familiar to us.

warholmuse said...

I'm also from T.O. I really wanted to see The Wrestler, but unfortunately couldn't make any of the showings. I saw 'Hunger' the other day and it was intense, as well as beautifully directed and filmed. The subject matter and graphic nature of the film make it hard to watch, but it was indeed a beautiful film. Hard to believe it was by a first time director. I'm going to see Synecdoche, New York tomorrow and I'm very excited. Also going to a whole bunch of midnight madness films including JCVD (apparently Mr Van Damme gives quite a surprising perf. in this) and Martyrs. I'll be in the rush line on Saturday either for Lovely, Still or Slumdog Millionaire. Can't wait!

Anonymous said...

BAM.
He can write on my blog any day.

NATHANIEL R said...

warholmuse. make sure to send us your notes (or me at least with that contact e-mail...) i'm trying to live vicariously through the people who actually made it to the festival

Janice said...

Can I be really shallow here for a moment and say if that's a pic of Lev, he's really hot? (And as a lesbian, I don't say that about a guy very often.) I mean, in that cool early '70's (before Jaws and Star Wars) Greenwich Village bohemian kind of way? (Calling central casting...)

Arietro Pinheiro said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Arietro Pinheiro said...

I sent an e-mail to Nathaniel in the beginning of this year and I said him to pay attention to Salles and Thomas' "Linha de Passe", but there's a small movie called "Chega de Saudade", directed by Laís Bodanzky, that are getting strong buzz for a possible submission by Brazilian Culture Board. Next week they are going to annouce it and I will let you known.

Anonymous said...

LEV is not legal yet people! ;)

ok... maybe in Canada

RJ said...

You said it so I didn't have to janice...

Sofia said...

Hi! Reading from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Here's the news about the choice of the Brazilian candidate do the Academy Awards.

The Brazilian Oscar submision is chosen by a comitee of the Ministry of Culture. Today they released the list of the 14 movies that applied for being the official nominee. Unfortunatelly, "Linha de passe" is not among the selected. I don't know why, but my guess is that "Linha de Passe" had not fully opened in Brazil in time. Maybe next year.

If you're interested, the movies that might be the Brazilian representant include the new works of past nominees Hector Babenco ("El pasado", a Brazilian production in Spanish, with Gael García Bernal) and Bruno Barreto ("Last Stop 174", about the tragic kidnapping of a bus in Rio in 2000). "Pasado" is a regular movie, and "174" has not yet opened here. The biggest box-office of the year, so far, in Brazil is also among the candidates - it's "Meu nome não é Johnny" (My name's not Johnny), based on a true story about a middle class boy that becomes a major drug dealer in the 1980's.

The list includes some very interesting movies, yet with few chances of being appointed by the Brazilian comitee: "Casa de Alice" (Alice's house), "Estômago" (Stomach) and "Mutum". I hope you might have a chance to watch them.

The full list might be encountred here (portuguese) http://tinyurl.com/5omo4z

Arietro Pinheiro said...

Here is the full list of 14 movies. One will be chosen by Brazilian Culture Board in order to grab a possible Oscar nomination:

1- "A Casa de Alice" (Alice's House), directed by Chico Teixeira;

2- "A Via Láctea" (The Milky Way), directed by Lina Chamie - Brazilian bombshell Alice Braga (Blindness, I Am legend, City Of God) is starring;

3- "Chega de Saudade" (No more misses), directed by Laís Bodanzky - This one is getting a lot of hype at the moment. It's my option in particular, a very cohesive and well acted movie;

4- "Era uma Vez" (Once Upon a Time), directed by Breno Silveira - The same director of Two Sons of Francisco, old Brazilian Oscar submission;

5- "Estômago" (Stomach), directed by Marcos Jorge - Also starring João Miguel (Movies, Aspirin and Vultures, another old Brazilian Oscar submission;

6- "Meu Nome Não é Johnny" (My Name Ain't Johnny), directed by Mauro Lima - The #1 Brazilian 2008 box office, also starring Selton Mello (Four Days in Sepetember - 1998 Brazil's Oscar nomination);

7- "Mutum", directed by Sandra Kogut - Based on João Guimarães Rosa's novel. João Miguel also stars.

8- "Nossa Vida Não Cabe Num Opala" (Our life doesn't fit in a GM car), directed by Reinaldo Pinheiro;

9- "Olho de Boi" (Eye of Ox), directed by Hermano Penna;

10- "Onde Andará Dulce Veiga?" (Where's Dulce Veiga?), directed by Guilherme de Almeida Prado;

11- "O Passado" (The Past), directed by Hector Babenco - He is an Academy Award nominee and he directed Kiss of the Spider Woman, Ironweed, Pixote, the Law of the Weakest.

12- "Os Desafinados" (Out of Tune), directed by Walter Lima Júnior - Rodrigo Santoro (300, Redbelt, Love Actually) plays a role in this movie production;

13- "O Signo da Cidade" (The Sign of the city), directed by Carlos Alberto Ricelli;

14-´"Última Parada 174" (Last Stop 174), directed by Bruno Barreto - He also directed Carried away, A view from the top, Bossa Nova and 1998 Brazil's Oscar nomination Four Days in September.

Arietro Pinheiro said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Arietro Pinheiro said...

P.S.: LINHA DE PASSE, directed by Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas, CAN NOT be submitted to AMPAS because its producers have not selected it to Brazilian Culture Board. What a pity!