Film Festivals and Retrospectives

Macunaíma, 1969

In an early episode of Joaquim Pedro de Andrade’s delirious, bawdy, idiosyncratically fragmented, and bluntly allegorical film, Macunaíma, the eponymous hero, having been abandoned by his impoverished family in the forest, encounters an ogre who then proceeds to placate the hungry child by feeding him a piece of flesh carved from his own leg –… read more »

The Master of Apipucos, 1959

Originally conceived as an installment in a two-panel portrait of prominent Brazilian intellectuals (and family friends), Joaquim Pedro de Andrade’s The Master of Apipucos captures a day in the life of author and sociologist, Gilberto Freire whose highly influential book, The Masters and the Slaves examined the unique essence of Brazilian identity through the framework… read more »

The Priest and the Girl, 1965

Marking Joaquim Pedro de Andrade’s first feature film, The Priest and the Girl hews closer to naturalism than modernism in its stark and muted Emile Zola-like tale of a young priest (Paulo José) who has been summoned to a small rural village in Minas Gerais in order to dispense extreme unction for the town’s terminally… read more »

Brasilia, Contradictions of a New City, 1967

Commissioned by Italian typewriter manufacturing company Olivetti in 1966 to showcase the construction of Brazil’s newly completed modern capital, Brasilia (and who then promptly shelved the completed work, perhaps because of its implicit critical inquiry), Joaquim Pedro de Andrade’s exquisitely shot, articulate, and impassioned film, Brasilia, Contradictions of a New City, as its name suggests,… read more »

Garrincha, Joy of the People, 1962

Something like a kindred spirit to Hiroshi Teshigahara’s José Torres in its mundane observations of the dedicated craft and everyday rituals of a champion sportsman, Garrincha, Joy of the People is an affectionately rendered and thoughtful, if somewhat idealized portrait of Manoel Francisco dos Santos, affectionately called “Garrincha”, the Brazilian football star considered to be… read more »

A Poet of the Castle, 1951

A companion piece to Joaquim Pedro de Andrade’s short film, The Master of Apipucos, The Poet of the Castle is a reverent portrait of beloved Brazilian modernist poet – and de Andrade’s godfather – Manuel Bandeira. Plagued by delicate health throughout his lifetime stemming from a childhood bout of tuberculosis, Bandeira’s daily ritual intrinsically reflects… read more »

Grey Souls, 2005

During the introductory remarks for Grey Souls, Yves Angelo commented that perhaps the most enduring lesson that had remained with author Philippe Claudel during his years spent working as a prison guard while writing his acclaimed novel was the idea that in such an environment, no one can be completely trusted. This sense of pervasive… read more »

Eli, Eli, Lema Sabachthani?, 2005

Shinji Aoyama returns to the desolate geographical and spiritual landscapes of Eureka to create a thoughtful and idiosyncratic – if patently offbeat and unclassifiable – concoction of doomsday angst, picaresque humor, synthesized cacophony, natural communion, and even redemption in Eli, Eli, Lema Sabachthani?. The film’s allusive title, taken from the Aramaic transcription of Jesus’ ninth… read more »

Tirante el Blanco (The Maidens’ Conspiracy), 2006

Based on the popular, baroque, fifteenth century chevalier story Tirante el Blanco, the seminal Catalan novel that Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra cites as a profound influence on the realization of Don Quixote de La Mancha, Vicente Aranda’s The Maidens’ Conspiracy is a lavish, risqué, and skillfully composed, but superficial and unsatisfying medieval adventure that combines… read more »

Clean, 2004

Olivier Assayas’ latest film, Clean, is a sincere, well-intentioned, and technically proficient, but uncharacteristically trite and formulaic portrait of a drug-addicted, washed up celebrity and recent widow named Emily Wang (Maggie Cheung) who, having lost custody of her son Jay (James Dennis) to her Canadian in-laws, Albrecht (Nick Nolte) and Rosemary Hauser (Martha Henry) while… read more »

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