far, A & O film critic Sylvain Richard has seen the
following films except where mentioned. Here are his ratings
and comments, always out of 4, reserving 2.5 or more for
a noteworthy film, 3.5 for an exceptional film, 4 for a
Sylvain Richard's best ever films = (Paraiso
The Legacy, The Diving Bell & the Butterfly, 13 Tzameti,
Sauf le Respect que je vous Dois, Live & Become, 36
Quai des Orfevres, Corsica, From Heaven, Hell in Tangier,
Camaron, Who Are You, King of the World).
2.5 -- ORPHEU NEGRO ,
by Nancy Snipper] It must have been wonderful to see this 1959 film 50 years
ago, but today, the content is almost laughable. Yes, it's
a carnival movie but Camus did not want us to laugh all
the way through it, but we do in far too many parts that
are supposed to be serious. As for the dancing the day before
carnival -- it goes on far too long and it doesn't reach
any climax, even during that big night where the endless
parade is just that: endless. Take the dancing and characters
named Orpheu (Orpheus), Eurydice and Death out of their
carnival costumes during the festive night, and not much
else is left except missing people, identities, death, poverty
and loneliness. But isn't that precisely the point of the
film? Seek out the symbolism and have fun doing it, but
the true meaning of this film gets lost as many times as
the characters do on carnival night. Let's face it, the
ancient Greeks told the story better. The reading of this
tragic myth steals your heart; the film steals your time.
Orfeu Negro would arrive at its poignant statement far better
were it unencumbered by the non-stop drumming, silly banter
and melodramatic poses. Still, the songs Manhä and A Felicidade
are pleasant enough. They will continue to resonate long
after the carnival is over.
Transposition of the Greek Tragedy "Orpheus and Eurydice"
to the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. Just before Carnaval,
Eurydice arrives to visit her cousin while being pursued
by Death. Orpheus (the father of songs) falls madly in love
with her. A joy to watch today 50 years later, this enduring
classic of Brazilian cinema is imbued with humour, beautiful
costumes and classic Bossa Nova song and dance written by
legend Carlos Jobim.
3.5 -- MADAME SATÄ,
by Nancy Snipper] An award-winning 2002 film, Madame Satã is based on the extraordinary
life of João Francisco dos Santos, a flamboyant cross-dressing
homosexual who eventually attains fame under the name of
Madam Satã. Prior to his success, João's talent to theatrically
dramatize stories and wildly dance to them remained hidden
to the world at large, appreciated only by misfits and derelicts.
The film reveals how his dreams of taking the stage are
dashed on a daily basis as he continues prostituting and
robbing those who dare to debase him verbally and physically
in the depraved Lapa barrio where he lives. Caged like a
panther ready to leap, this passionate 'creature' rages
against those who both reject and love him. After lengthy
bouts of imprisonment -- one based on a false accusation
of theft -- he is able to find his true voice and become
the consummate artist he was born to be. But this occurs
only after serving many years in prison for murder. Taking
the stage in spectacular sequined attire, he seductively
weaves fantastic tales and exotic legends that lead to the
film's dynamic denouement of frenzied dancing. The subject
matter of this enduring feature is made all the more remarkable
by the riveting performance of Lazaro Ramos. He became a
mega-star after appearing in this unforgettable film.
-- IF NOTHING ELSE WORKS
A group of individuals struggling to get their lives together
in the big city. Shoddy camera work and lighting. Script
and performances failed to engage.
University student plans to break up with her boyfriend in
one hour. An engaging, light hearted look at the makings
of young romance.
(Second Impression) Second viewing of this film revealed
certain nuances that I failed to notice the first time.
A subtle, charming level of comedy sprinkled with a measure
of human drama as a typical evening spent in a ballroom
unfolds. Exquisite character study of senior citizens seeking
love and happiness on the dance floor.
-- THIS IS
Film traces highlights from 20th century's
greatest living legends in the world of soccer. More for aficionados.
2.6 -- TOM'S HOUSE,
An intimate, personal portrait of husband and father of Bossa
Nova -- Tom Jobin.
-- RIDING HIGH
Psychological action thriller about a drug addict
with no hope for the future who kidnaps a well to do psychologist.
-- THE MAN WHO BOTTLED
Top Brazilian performers plus David Byrne
reminisce on the life and work of Humberto Texeira - AKA "Baiao
Doctor" - songwriter, lawyer and congressman.
Less than average tale of modern romance using "Tristan and
Isolde" as a foundation. Failed to engage.
-- THE MYSTERY OF SAMBA,
Carolina Jabor, Lula
Buarque De Hollanda
Documentary portraying of a group of samba players known
as "Old Guard of Portela." Legendary musicians recounting
how their lives inspired them to write these beautiful songs.
-- ENCHANTED WORD
A study into the relationship between poetry
(literature) and music especially in the context of Brazilian
-- PIERRE VERGER: MESSENGER BETWEEN
TWO WORLDS ,
Lula Buarque De Hollanda
A look at photographer and ethnographer Pierre Verger (1902-96)
who devoted most of his life to the study of the influence
of African traditions on Brazilian culture.
-- THE BALLROOM (TOURBILLONS),
The happenings on a typical evening in a traditional Brazilian
dance hall. Lacked engaging characters, confusing; engaging
sampling of Brazilian dance music.