A movie log formerly known as Bookishness / By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Monday, April 23, 2018

Black Orpheus (Marcel Camus, 1959)

Breno Mello in Black Orpheus
Orfeo: Breno Mello
Eurydice: Marpessa Dawn
Mira: Lourdes de Oliveira
Serafina: Léa Garcia
Hermes: Alexandro Constantino
Death: Ademar de Silva
Chico: Waldemar De Souza
Benedito: Jorge Dos Santos
Zeca: Aurino Cassiano
Ernesto: Marcel Camus
Fausto: Fausto Guerzoni

Director: Marcel Camus
Screenplay: Marcel Camus, Jacques Viot
Based on a play by Vinicius de Moraes
Cinematography: Jean Bourgoin
Production design: Pierre Gouffroy
Film editing: Andrée Feix
Music: Luiz Bonfá, Antonio Carlos Jobim

Celebrated for its music, color, and nearly nonstop dancing, Black Orpheus won big at Cannes and at the Oscars, where it was named the best foreign language film of the year. It remains a film of great energy, one of those movies that cause you to hold your breath when the music stops and menacing silence takes hold. Sure, it can be criticized -- and has been, even by President Obama, in Dreams From My Father -- for its sentimental portrayal of its characters as simple, carefree folk and its sanitizing of the favelas in which they live. But the film takes place in the realm of myth, not reality, and even if we must take our myths with a touch of skepticism, we shouldn't miss the point of what they tell us about larger things like love and joy and jealousy and death.

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