#383- Terra em Transe (Entranced Earth)

Quick recap: A poet is somehow responsible for two leaders getting elected but he really sucks at choosing anyone decent

MRW the movie is over

Fun (?) fact: I spent the entirety of the film confused why Brazil was called Eldorado. Come to find out, this movie is a thinly veiled story about a real political mess and about the only thing that was changed were names. In other words, Eldorado is fake.

Thoughts and Observations:

I’m not going to pretend I understood a fraction of this movie. Even at the end I couldn’t tell you if anyone was ‘good’ or had the best intentions because everyone seemed to suck. The main character is Paulo Martins, a jaded journalist who somehow has a lot of influence. At first he supports the candidate that says he is for the people- that is until the people protest and many are killed. Oops! So Martins does a bunch of stuff that I don’t understand and somehow the conservative elite jerk wins the election and that’s somehow even worse than the previous guy who killed all those people.

Now, if I was Brazilian I might have related more to this movie but since I had no context for the time period, it was so hard to keep up with what was going on. I couldn’t even nail who Martins was sleeping with (turns out he shared a girl with another corrupt guy). I suppose the lesson is that in politics, everyone sucks and is not to be trusted. And maybe it’s best to just stay out of the race altogether. But what I took from it is that, as always, it is the people that get screwed over in the end and they should be the ones to hold all the power.

Stylistically, this movie looked more like a French avant-garde film than political thriller. There are straightforward scenes cut with a couple dancing and breaking glass and long shots of a man twirling around with a gun. I’m sure it was all symbolism but as referenced above, I couldn’t even figure out that Eldorado wasn’t real so I don’t know how the director expected me to understand the point of the guy dragging around a black flag and a cross.

 

Watchability score: 2/5, only because it’s a pretty film

Up next: Naked Gun

 

 

#382- Gaav (The Cow)

Quick recap: Man loves cow. Cow dies. Village tries to cover it up. Man becomes cow.

That’s a pretty sweet looking cow, TBH

Fun (?) fact: The Ayatollah Khomeini loved this movie so much he allowed the film industry to keep going after the Iranian Revolution.

and I bet he loved The Simpsons just as much!

Thoughts and observations: 

Before I get into this review, it is necessary to mention there is a podcast called The Beef and Dairy Network and it is WONDERFUL. It’s a parallel world where cows are king and everyone is obsessed to some degree with either the animal or eating the animal. It was so difficult to watch this movie straightforward without thinking of the various Beef and Dairy Network plotlines about various people being in relationships with cows. Go listen to an episode and you’ll either be hooked or immediately become a vegan.

I didn’t have trouble understanding why this guy loved his cow so much. First of all, as mentioned above, it’s a very good looking animal. And second, the entire village depended on milk from this cow so it makes sense to treat her like royalty. What I don’t understand is how we go from point A (grief over a loved one) to point B (becoming a cow).

The village is a remote one so Masht Hassan was right to immediately call BS when his friends told him his cow had simply run off and would be back shortly. If anything, the cover up only hastened Hassan’s descent into madness even quicker than if he had just processed the death. It really confused me as to what was the message of this movie. Was it:

  • grief is grief, no matter what and humans need time to process
  • Your friends know your level of craziness and they are good to keep that in mind when something happens
  • At the end of the day, it was just a cow so don’t get so caught up on worldly possessions

or, my favorite:

  • cows and the men who love them

Because I really think that’s the theme the director is going for here. I watched a very quick snippet of some behind the scenes footage and the director discussed how the cow symbolized fertility. Which is cool and all, except for the fact that Hassan had a wife so he could’ve just pampered her instead. I can’t really say I don’t get the relationship seeing as how I have 4 cats and they are spoiled rotten. Still, I can only hope that if one of them passes on, my family doesn’t try to cover it up so that I go insane and become a cat.

Final review: 3/5.

Up next: Terra em Transe

#381- L’Atalante

Quick recap: Juliette marries Jean, a ship captain. She learns that living on a ship isn’t as romantic as it sounds and actually really sucks most of the time. Except for the cats, of course.

Fun (?) fact: This was the last film Jean Vigo directed before his death at the age of 29. This was definitely NOT a fun fact but it’s all I have. Have some more cats!

Thoughts and observations:

Excluding the fact that the wedding party was all dressed in black and somberly waved her off, I can’t imagine Juliette had any idea what she signed up for when marrying Jean. Maybe she imagined an exciting adventure as her new husband steered the ship to faraway ritzy places. Maybe she imagined settling into her role as caretaker for the shipmates and earning their respect in return. At the very least, she must’ve enjoyed the thought of being on the river, blue sky as far as the eye could see.

Instead, she got:

  • A very dirty ship with hardly enough room for everyone
  • Days full of fog and cold weather
  • cats. SO MANY CATS
  • Jules, who is best described by the picture below-

So, I’d say not an ideal beginning to any new marriage. I totally understand how frustrating it must’ve been for Juliette to be so close to Paris and not be able to experience it.Considering all the new situations she was thrust into, it’s a wonder she didn’t try to escape sooner. I really love how she tried to adapt to all these things and it was Jean who ultimately pushed her away. Which I guess is why working with a spouse is a bad idea, but that’s a rant for another day.

Jean Vigo may have been young, but he really had a strong understanding of couples and their needs in any relationship. It says something that I was able to identify with both characters, even when they were being ridiculous and stupid. Maybe I didn’t abandon my spouse in a foreign town without any money or way to contact me, but I know what that’s like to be angry at the person you love the most. The reunion at the end of the film, although a result of ridiculous coincidences, was very sweet and gave me hope for these characters continuing relationship.

Now, onto the most important part of the film: THE CATS. There were SO many cats of all kinds- old ones, kittens, hyper ones and honestly I could’ve used more of them. They are all taken care of by Jules, which I thought was a wonderful way to show his humanity even though he looked and acted so rough. My favorite scenes were when someone would be sitting somewhere and a cat would just fly into the scene because you know that had to be someone’s job. I don’t think I’d want to be a cat wrangler in another life but I would’ve loved to watch the mayhem.

Final review: 4/5

Up next: Gaav

#380- The Last Picture Show

Quick recap: A coming of age story set in a dying Texas town in the 1950s. Bleak doesn’t even begin to describe this film.

This movie is crawling with stars! Pictured here is Cybill Shepherd and Jeff Bridges

Fun(?) fact: Orson Welles was the one to convince director Peter Bogdanovich to film in black and white.

And another BONUS FUN FACT: I have visited the real life town of Archer City, where this movie was filmed and based off of. Unfortunately all I remember are the massive bookstores owned by Larry McMurtry and a cat that followed me around.

see, Mom? My memory remains intact.

Thoughts and Observations:

Not having grown up in the 1950s I don’t know how accurate The Last Picture Show is, but I did grow up in a small Texas town and there were many scenes that felt uncomfortably familiar. This Larry McMurtry fellow might be on to something I think. My town didn’t have a tradition of parking our cars outside of a motel when our friends lost their virginity but we did have a bunch of old men who cared more about high school football than is healthy. We didn’t have teenagers sleeping with older women in unhappy marriages (I don’t think) but we did have our fair share of scandals that literally everyone knew about. And finally, I don’t remember my friends ever throwing a nude swimming party but there were plenty of times we rode around town and visited the couple of spots still open past 8 on a weeknight.

Don’t let the description fool you. This is not a Texan version of American Graffiti. Although this is a ‘coming of age’ movie, it happens as everything around them, especially the town is dying. I related to that more than anything I think. I live in a big city now and stores opening and closing is a daily occurrence. But in a small town, its impact is felt by everyone to some extent. And I think everyone goes through a shift at some point when they feel like they are too big for their town and it’s time to move on. I found myself thinking about this a lot during the movie. What would’ve happened to these teens had they lived in Dallas? Would Sonny have had a better life? Would Jacy have ended up with someone she truly loved? It’s interesting to see how the teens shaped the town and more importantly how the town shaped them.

  • If I had to rank the bleakest scenes, Billy’s experience with sex was the worst. Even worse than his death at the end of the film. I loved the character and I love how it showed Sonny’s humanity but it was a heart wrenching story to experience.
  • To the opposite end, I don’t know if I really enjoyed any of the scenes but I wish I could’ve seen more of the Picture Show since it seemed to be the hotbed of all teen activity and was the title of the film.
  • Cloris Leachman’s character Ruth was another sad one but I felt more sorry for her when she was having an affair with Sonny than when she screamed at him for abandoning her. Her life was hard, yes, but Sonny only offered her a false hope that couldn’t be sustained.
  • As mentioned, there are a ton of stars (both up and coming as well as established) and I had a tough time naming them, except for one :  Randy Quaid, whom
  • I recognized immediately.

  • I could go on and on about the characters but what really did me in was the setting. It’s no secret that I love Texas and its scenery and The Last Picture Show made me want to jump in my car and visit Archer City all over again. The scenes where Sonny headed out of town and watched the sunset felt so familiar and calming.

Final review: 4/5. I’d give it a perfect score but those nude scenes really snuck up on me.

Up next: L’Atalante