Extracting a necessity of vision from a different country sometimes requires a perception of economic, social and political aspirations and troubles since all countries’ morality and customs are not one and the same, Lives are structure by the power in control and those who live it. The Hollywood Brazilian Film Festival, even within this ideal, shows a understanding of truth, despite at times being a little skewed.
The intentions of “I Will Raffle Off My Heart” resound in the ideas of the psyche that permeates old school culture. In an age of puritanical instigation on the part of Americanism, many forget that the oldest profession in the world has been around long before this country was ever formed. What this documentary, taking place below the equator, mixes in relishes the thought of “Brega” music as a feeling that encourages all in this matter. While the focus seems to rely more on the music, the light of the male versus female psyche in terms of disconnection with sex lurks just below the surface. The body language and notions related here are quite interesting if not accidental (though not quite). Specifically, the film portrays a couple different couples and families where an actual connection grew out of the act of prostitution which is, by definition, an interesting construct. The men within this portrait become the quiet ones with the women of the household doing all the talking which points to a psychiatric predisposition to domination. This, of course, remains buried in different musicians and singers talking about the impact of “brega” and how its rhythms move the heart. While this is intrinsic and parallel to what the film purports to be, the intonations floating below the surface are the more interesting texture.
The idea of “making it” or finding a way to rise above it all has been a stalwart of movies since the early days because the story of an underdog always appeals to the masses who are looking to “get away” from their lives. “Rania” tells the story of a girl with dreams but with notions that are firmly planted on the ground. The lead character wants to be a dancer with all the emotions and technique to make her dream work. The in-between rests within the reality of what is around her. Though she is capable, she relies on a broken family, a stripper friend and undependable boys in her life. As she spends more and more time at her friend’s club where she eventually starts dancing to make some money, the quid pro quo looks to swallow her up even as her hopes to leave both rise and fade, not because of her talent but because of restrictions that family and duty put against her. The effective aspect of the movie is that it doesn’t hit the viewer over the head with notions of morality or intention in terms of the character. It just allows you to see her life both blossom and spiral out of control without exactly telling you where she is going.
Moving in a slightly different direction but relegating more to thoughts of nationalism, “Rat Fever” plays in a vibrant but different world of life captured luminously in black and white. There is something undeniably visceral about the picture yet when it tries too hard to make its point (specifically initiating thoughts of metaphor in the character’s actions) is when it becomes unbalanced. The moments of idealism and just being with friends whether it be at a backyard barbecue or in a flat where all manner of sexual desire is consumated, the world feels true buoyed by both the cinematography but also by an enigmatic use of music as score within the scene played by one of the on-screen characters. This intention, which provides undeniably connection to the characters’ listlessness, hopefulness or sheer grief, creates a tone that is not necessarily seen in most films. One shot of 4 people awaking in bed using an overhead tracking shot shows a clarity of vision and understanding reminiscent of Antonioni in terms of metaphors. The only problem is that the film cannot maintain this feeling within the scene or with the actors for any extended length of time. While certain actions, like that on a boat during a party, is supposed to reflect an aura of intimacy in an increasing bold world, they instead feel flat despite an exceptional performance of restraint, secrets and deference between mind and body by lead actress Nanda Costa who undeniably creates the effort of muse in a violent world wracked by misdirection.
Continuing with an even stronger structure than the year prior, the 2012 Hollywood Brazilian Film Festival continues to show the diverse voices below the Equator that attacks and discuss a variety of issues with an increasing distinct and stylistic eye.