Archive for April 18th, 2009


by Philip E. Johnston

The opening night selection of this year’s 40th annual Nashville Film Festival was director Marc Webb’s Sundance hit 500 Days of Summer.  Distributed by Fox Searchlight and set for a limited release on July 17, the film is Webb’s feature film directorial debut and proves itself a concise and entertaining treatise on young love in a postmodern world.

The first five minutes are immediately transporting.  There is a narrator, there are attractive leading characters, the music is zippy, and Webb introduces his leading players as if they were walking in a narrative music video.  It’s a beautiful amalgamation that can’t help but prompt an ear-to-ear smile. The story gets even more interesting directly following this masterful introduction when the narrator makes the audience a promise: “This is not a love story.”

So, in the spirit of the film, I’ll put an embargo on the word “love” from here on out. It’s just one of the ways this story is atypical – its a boy-meets-girl story the likes of which we haven’t seen before and one that is completely necessary to publicly state the romantic inclinations of millions of postmodern 20-somethings.


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by Allan Fish

(Brazil 1963 103m) DVD1

Aka. Barren Lives

Hell…horrible place…

p  Luiz Carlos Barreto, Danilo Trelles, Herbert Riches  d/w  Nelson Pereira dos Santos  novel  Graciliano Ramos  ph  Luiz Carlos Barreto, José Rosa  ed  Rafael Justo Valverde, Nello Melli  m  Leonardo Alencar  art  Raimundo Higino

Atila Iório (Fabiano), Maria Ribeiro (Sinhá Vitória), Orlando Macedo (Soldado Amorelo), Jofre Soares (Fazendeiro), Gilvan Lima, Genivaldo Lima,

Ask your average film buff about Brazilian cinema and most discussions begin with Pixote and end with City of God, as if the whole nation’s culture and screen prestige is inseparable from the infamous ‘Ciudad de Dios’.  But then discuss the national cinema with a Brazilian film writer and you would find that the modern classics of Babenco and Mereilles are regarded as merely an epilogue.  Their real national cinema, the real culture of Brazil was demonstrated in the sixties and early seventies in the movement regarded as Cinema Novo.  Like other movements of the era, from France’s nouvelle vague to the British kitchen sink dramas, it wanted to deglamorise cinema, make it more truthful; in the case of Cinema Novo in a devotion to ethnic culture and the honest depiction of the poverty of the rural poor.  Never was this more amply demonstrated than in Nelson Pereira dos Santos’ harrowing tale of poverty in the Brazilian sertao of the North-East.

            The film comes across as a sort of Latin American The Grapes of Wrath, detailing the lives of a small family of wandering peasants in the harsh, desolate plains of their country in the early 1940s, looking not so much for work as to survive from day to day.  The father gets money, then loses it gambling, their pet dog searches for vermin for them to eat, while the two children only have their dog to lighten their gloom.  (more…)

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