With an approach that emphasises internal feelings and character journeys, over more obvious things like narrative structure and story arcs, this Brazilian-German film challenges audiences to explore a series of important issues in ways movies rarely attempt to do. Director-cowriter Karim Ainouz makes a movie that simply refuses to be pigeonholed as a gay romance, instead focussing on three young men who are trying to plot a course in life even as it keeps taking unexpected turns.
The story opens on the wild Futuro Beach in Fortaleza, Brazil, where lifeguard Donato (Elite Squad's Wagner Moura) loves swimming so much that his adoring little brother Ayrton (Savio Ygor Ramos) calls him Aquaman. But things change for them when Donato has his first unsuccessful rescue, as a biker (Fred Lima) drowns in the rough surf while his friend Konrad (Clemens Schick) survives. Trying to make sense of things, Donato befriends Konrad, and a surprising flash of lust leads to a growing relationship between them. Eventually, Donato travels to Berlin to see Konrad, and he decides to stay there. Years later, Ayrton (now Jesuita Barbosa) follows his brother to Germany to find out what happened to him.
Ainouz tells this story with very little dialogue, conveying the story through visual clues instead of words. This means that we are forced to pay attention and invest elements of our own lives in the story in order to understand it, which offers a unique experience to every audience member, as we all travel through the story differently. It's a fiercely clever approach to storytelling, and it essentially shifts the film from a standard romance into a much more involving and important exploration of migration, specifically how we all must leave our past behind in order to become the person we need to be.
Continue reading: Futuro Beach Review
With elements of political corruption and life-threatening prejudice, this film has a rather much darker premise than the youthful Slumdog Millionaire adventure it seems to be. While much of the movie revels in teen camaraderie and finding happiness amid poverty, the plot itself is actually rather dark, intense and violent. All of this kind of muddies any message the story might be trying to carry, but it definitely holds the interest, with lively central characters and an intriguing core mystery.
It's set primarily in the Rio dump, where 14-year-old Rafael (Rickson Tevez) sifts through rubbish looking for treasures. One day he finds an ordinary wallet and splits the cash inside with his pal Gardo (Eduardo Luis). But other contents hint at something much bigger. And that's confirmed when the police swoop in demanding answers. Top detective Federico (Selton Mello) is so intent on finding the wallet that Rafael and Gardo go into hiding, teaming up outcast teen Rato (Gabriel Weinstein) to solve the mystery themselves. But the cops are too brutal to be messing with, and they're right on the boys' trail. The only adults around to help are Father Juilliard (Martin Sheen) and charity worker Olivia (Rooney Mara). And they know better than to cross the police.
Yes, this is a story set in a world of deeply corrupt cops and even more perverse politicians. In flashback, the film also traces the story of the wallet's owner Jose Angelo (Wagner Moura) and his clash with a dirty politician. Director Daldry and writer Curtis struggle to balance the crowd-pleasing aspects of the film with the seriously nasty realities of how people rampantly exploit the poor in Brazil (and everywhere, obviously). The movie wants to be a boys' adventure romp, chasing clue after clue to piece together a much bigger mystery. But the truth of corruption and prejudice is much too big for such a breezy adventure.
Continue reading: Trash Review
Three friends, Raphael (Rickson Teves), Gardo (Eduardo Luis) and Rato (Gabriel Weinstein) from Brazil all work on a landfill site. When one of them discovers a leather bag containing money and secret passwords, they have no idea that they hold the key to revolution and equality amongst the rich and poor. But when the corrupt local police force offer a substantial reward for the bag, the kids realise it must be more important than they first suspected. Soon, the police find out about what the boys have uncovered, and the three childhood friends come into a deadly conflict, with seemingly no chance of survival. With few friends on their side, the boys are up against the police force with only themselves to watch out for each other.
Continue: Trash Trailer
As he did with District 9, South African filmmaker Blomkamp grounds this sci-fi thriller in present-day society, telling a story that resonates with a strong political kick. He also again uses effects in a off-handed way that never steals focus from the actors. On the other hand,he fails to build much of an emotional impact, even though the script continually tries to ramp up the personal drama. But the actors are all very watchable, and the film's urgent vibe keeps us gripped.
It's set in 2154 Los Angeles, a sprawling shantytown where people struggle to survive without adequate resources or health care. In orbit above the earth, Elysium is an idyllic refuge for the very wealthy. Protected by the fierce Secretary Rhodes (Foster), Elysium's only threat is illegal immigration from the surface. And that's what factory worker Max (Damon) wants to attempt after severe radiation poisoning. Even having a nurse (Braga) for a friend doesn't help him get proper care: he needs the high tech medicine on Elysium to survive. He turns to black-marketeer Spider (Moura) for help, and Spider fits Max with a devise that gives him physical strength plus technology to steal vital information from an Elysium contractor (Fichtner). So Rhodes unleashes sleeper agent Kruger (Copley) to stop Max.
Yes, the plot is somewhat convoluted, but the chaos makes it feel much more realistic than the more simplistic thrillers we usually see. It also helps that the digital effects feel so seamlessly integrated into the shaky-cam mayhem of the favelas, while even the more grandly photographed Elysium leaves the effects in the background. This allows Blomkamp to keep the focus on the characters, even if the splintering plot never draws us in emotionally. Braga's plotline is clearly designed to tug at the heart-strings, but her tentative romance with Max never goes anywhere. Max's friendship with Julio (Luna) is much more interesting.
Continue reading: Elysium Review
Steven R. McQueen - Elysium World Premiere - Westwood, CA, United States - Thursday 8th August 2013
It's the year 2154 and Max Da Costa is living in the densely populated, crime and war ravaged wasteland that is the planet Earth. Meanwhile, the rich and the privileged live on an orbital settlement in space called Elysium which boasts perfect landscapes, no poverty and medical advancements that can eliminate illnesses such as cancer in half a second. Despite Earth being a disease-stricken planet with little resources to go around, Secretary Rhodes is vehemently strict with her immigration laws disallowing anyone of a lower class to be allowed into their utopia even in the case of the most serious of illnesses. An ailing Max is determined to survive, however, even if it means embarking on a highly dangerous mission to break into the highly guarded space habitat and retrieve medical resources that could save him and the rest of the suffering population.
Continue: Elysium Trailer
Captain Roberto Nascimento works for Rio de Janeiro's BOPE (Special Police Operations Battalion) as Commander-in-Chief, when he gets promoted to sub-Secretary of Security for the State. Roberto begins work on an operation on a prison riot, with devastating results.
Continue: Elite Squad: The Enemy Within Trailer
Machado was at least smart enough to make the object of his male stars' (and the camera's) attention fully able to deserve it, and then some. As 20-year-old Karinna, the ridiculously gorgeous Alice Braga shares her aunt Sonia's strong, sensual features and iconic aloofness; she's the center of attention in every scene whether she likes it or not, effortlessly drawing in everyone around her. Pity, of course, that the film had to take such an arresting actress and make her a whore. But that's just what Lower City is about: a young whore from a small Brazilian town who gets a cut rate on a ride on a boat to the big city of Salvador by agreeing to sleep with the two men piloting it.
Continue reading: Lower City Review
The dead relatives, we learn, are executed by the sons of Firmino Santos Guerra (Carlos Vereza). Thirty years ago, Guerra was left near the altar by Filomena Capadócio (Marieta Severo), who fell in love with another man and had several children by him. Guerra harbored his jealous rage for decades, finally deciding years later that it was time to eliminate the man who stole his one true love.
Continue reading: The Three Marias Review