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This Week's Film Reviews (Apr 3, 2020)

31 Mar 2020

With all the cinemas closed, thee are still ways to see films.  One is using the Virtual Theatre.  Checkout the review for BACURAU below, whicch tells how you can watch this excellent films.  Many films have had their release dates UNSET.  A few films will be released directlty toiTunes or other viewing platforms.  These films will br reviewed as they are releaed.  RESISTANCE is released March 31st. and is reviewed here.

 

FILM REVIEWS

 

BACURAU (Brazil/France 2019) ***** Top 10

Directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles

If the name of one of the directors Kleber Mendonca Filho sounds familiar, the reason is that it belongs to the one who has directed two of the best known Brazilian films recently, the brilliant NEIGHBOURING SOUNDS and AQUARIUS.

Bucurau is the hit from Brazil that has been seen by more than 1 million Brazilians.  The film plays like a Sergio Leone western adventure coupled with a sci-fi mystery element in which an entire village is forced to take up arms to protect itself from extinction.  The film won the Jury Prize at Cannes in 2019 sharing the prize with LES MISERABLES.

The welcome sign to the fictitious village of Bacurau reads: “If you go, go in peace”.  The film begins with a girl, Teresa (Barbara Colen) coming to the village, riding on the water truck to attend her grandmother’s funeral. 

BACURAU was filmed in the village of Barra in the municipality of Palelhas and in the rural area of the municipality of Acari, at the Sertão do Seridó region, in Rio Grande de Norte.

Something is amiss.  When a political candidate, Tony Junior (Thardelly Lima) enters the village, he is greeted with hostility, accused of shutting off water the village obtains from the dam.  This is the reason water has to brought by the water truck.  The truck shot with holes indicate that someone higher up wishes the village to disappear.  The climate gets worse.

Directors File and Dornelles build up audience anticipation very well, starting from the welcome sign to the village.  Then, things get dicier.  First the water truck is riddled with bullet holes from shots out of nowhere.  Then the local teacher, when attempting to show Bacurau on the map to his students find that the village has disappeared from the online map.  The cellphone signals then disappear.  Out of the blue, two strangers from motorbikes appear.  Are they intruders or just innocent tourists out to tour the country?  Bacurau runs 2 hours and ten minutes, is a bit slow moving but never boring for the above reason.

The directors also pay attention to detail, like a brief camera shot of a dog scratching itself as two bikers enter the village.  The flies on the food emphasize the heat, stink and the rural setting.

Sonia Braga, the sex bomb from past films like DONA FLOR AND HER TWO HUSBANDS and KISS OF THE SPIDERWOMAN appears in the supporting role of a doctor in the village.  Braga is now 70 but still commands a powerful screen presence.  Her character is given key lines and Braga is till a pleasure to watch.  Most of the villagers are played by non-professional from a similar village in the area.  Udo Kier, the German actor who is famous for play crazed madman has his role of a lifetime as an over-the-top crazed mercenary.

At one point in the film, a dialogue line goes: “You are staying here like the fag, Che Guevara.”  There is absolutely no reason for that gay decretory term and it is films like this one that creates the notion in people’s minds that comments like these are ok.  Still there is a queer element in the film that won it the Palm Queer award. 

Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the partners of Kino Lorber, the film distributors are setting up virtual theatres in order for audiences to view the film

There are 2 Toronto theatres presently on this initiative: Details below: ($12 is good for a 5-day pass to see the film)

**NOW OPEN! Digital Screenings for Toronto audiences 
to attend & support their local arthouse & virtual theaters!**
 
NOW OPEN! Regent Theatre, Toronto
https://kinonow.com/bacurau-regent-theatre
 
OPENING VIRTUALLY APRIL 3, Fox Theatre, Toronto
https://kinonow.com/bacurau-fox-theatre

Trailer: https://www.imdb.com/video/vi961003289?playlistId=tt2762506&ref_=tt_ov_vi

 

RESISTANCE (UK/France/Germany/USA 2019) ***

Directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz

(Note: Though set in France, thee is hardly any French spoken.)

The closing credits read that we should not forget the WWII efforts of the RESISTANCE workers.  With that, one would find it difficult to fault a well-intentioned film that pays tribute to the Resistance fighters of the Nazi Regime.  Still, RESISTANCE is a flawed, if earnest look at too many stories told in a WWII setting.

The first and foremost is the story of the world’s most famous mime of all time, Marcel Marceau.  I was unaware that this person served in the Resistance saving thousands of Jewish children.  Thanks to writer/director Jonathan Jakubowicz for bringing the information to light.  Jakubowicz researched his material from many books - on Marceau, on Klaus Barbie, the French Resistance as well as from the testimonies of contemporary survivors. 

RESISTANCE is clearly about paying tribute to Marceau and the Resistance fighters who have saved millions of children from those damned Nazis.  The story is told from the point of view of Marceau, who is also a talented theatre performer and painter.  His painting skills allowed him to forge passports.  Marceau falls in love with a local girl, Emma.  They get pulled into helping Jewish children.  They soon realize that the Nazis will get the children sooner or later and the only option was to move the children out of Occupied France.  Unfortunately, the film swings from one premise to another.  At one point, it is about Mareau’s entertaining skills, next it is a WWII action flick, then it attempts a biography of Marceau and then a tribute to the resistance fighters.  Of those mentioned, the latter stands out and forms the at least satisfying climax of the film.

Where the film works, is when it gets a bit emotional though the sappiness is thankfully held back.  The debate between Marceau (Jesse Eisenberg) and Emma (Clémence Poésy) is particularly moving.  The opening segment where a young girl Elsbeth (Bella Ramsey) watches her parents killed by the Nazi’s and Marceau’s mime performance at the end are worthy of mention.

Eisenberg, the Oscar nominated actor (for THE SOCIAL NETWORK) with the motor-mouth surprisingly speaks much slower in this film, for obvious reasons.  Eisenberg speaks English with an odd Jewish slant, as do all the Fresh actors in English.  The Germans speak German.   Eisenberg could be better in this role but the script does not allow him to excel as in THE SOCIAL NETWORK.   Eisenberg does ok with the miming, but he is not that good.  But who can blame him?  No one could ever be better than Marcel Marceau.  Ed Harris has a cameo as General George S. Patton but his performance lasts no longer than 5 minutes.   Matthias Schweighöfer, who also is one of the film’s co-producers plays Klaus Barbie, the ruthless Gestapo agent who is shown with a nice quiet side with his family.

RESISTANCE feels pretty depressing, especially if watching during the COVID-19 self-isolation/lockdown all over the world.  One can feels for the Jewish isolation with regards to fear of an outside incontrollable threat.  RESISTANCE opens on iTunes March the 31st, so you will be able to see it.

Trailer: https://www.imdb.com/video/vi3863133977?playlistId=tt6914122&ref_=tt_ov_vi