In Cannes the Brazilian cinema rises again & nbsp; - Francesco Boille - International
The cangaçeiros rise again. It is probably a Bacurau masterpiece, the film by Brazilian Kleber Mendonça Filho, former journalist of the Folha de S.Paulo and other magazines, who arrived here on his third feature film and who had already presented the excellent Aquarius, distributed in 2016 in Cannes Also in Italy.
This time, paired with his former chief decorator Juliano Dornelles, with whom he signed the script and direction, the story is not set in Recife - the city where both authors were born. With Bacurau we dive into the Brazilian Northeast, a popular and highly hybrid region.
Behind his realistic and archaic appearances, and even presenting himself as a dystopia (we are in fact in "a near future"), the film confuses the waters, geographical and temporal. On the other hand, the issue of water, and not just that, is central to a film that masterfully cancels the boundaries between genres: westerns, science fiction (there is also a UFO), horror, social drama. And then, thanks to its setting between past, present and future, archaism and hypermodernity, it brings back a fundamental moment in the history of cinema, the Brazilian cinéma nôvo.
Bacurau is a remote village, away from the papers and the gps, located in the almost desert Sertâo, the land that saw the birth of the phenomenon of social banditry, that of the cangaçeiros, between the end of the nineteenth century and the first decades of the twentieth century, against the bullying of a economic and political system then dominated by the landowners.
Inexistent in reality, it is a symbolic village, a bit sleepy compared to the frenetic reality of the modern world, but full of vitality. Like the film, which always captivates, it amuses a lot, subverts every situation with continuous reversals. In the film, violence never generates annoyance and always seems to be right, and it films open spaces with a breath, a breadth and a simply unique look.
Nothing is what it appears to be in a village of a somewhat good-natured resistance, the Asterix, and a bit violent, celebrating its past with a museum dedicated to the era of cangaçeiros. Because on the outskirts of the village live the alleged bandits, marginal misfits who somehow resurrect the cangaçeiros in a hypermodern and moreover gay way, in particular with the extraordinary character of Lunga. They will be called by the village to defend themselves against the multinationals and the interests of the symbolically represented masters by a group of mercenary fanatics, led by an icon of Fassbinder's cinema as Udo Kier.
The village rises again and, thanks to the use of a psychotropic drug, its inhabitants seem zombies on the contrary, not only compared to the pathetic ones of Jarmush's film but in general. The life and dignity of the community are reborn along with the historical memory of the cangaçeiros, who were largely killed, their heads decapitated and the heads publicly exhibited to dissuade the popular masses. Here the opposite happens and capitalism seems violent, Machiavellian, but in the end also stupid, self-defeating, almost suicidal.
If, as in the case of Bacurau, dystopia instead of removing the future gives it back, it is a sign that the metaphor and allegory allow us to say better certain things by giving it a lightness despite the gravity of the questions: the realistic finding of the present, if it is necessarily it is nevertheless important, even necessary.
Les misérables, the directorial debut of the French actor Ladj Ly, is on the whole an excellent film. Relentless, she follows a team of plainclothes policemen, a tradition of French cinema. But here it is overturned by the eyes of a director of Malian origin. The team of agents - two whites and one black - has been operating for years in the cité of Seine-Saint-Denis, in the Paris region, one of those increasingly abandoned cities where for years now more generations of descendants of African families have not benefited from real policies integration.
The allusions to the grave revolt of 2005 and the fact that nothing has changed since then, as is the reference to guns with rubber bullets (flashballs) - increasingly disputed for their use during the manifestations of yellow vests - which strike a kid, make it a brave movie. A style of directing and naturalistic but sensitive photography gives the viewer a reality almost removed from the cinema as well as from the French media. The gaze is deterministic: the social mechanisms imposed from above determine and condition the life and therefore the actions of human beings, who are eventually imprisoned. And if everyone is a bit of a perpetrator and a victim, others, like children and teenagers deprived of any future, are more victims than others, because, as the phrase of Victor Hugo's Miserables mentioned in the finale says, there are no good or bad herbs, but only bad sowers. Here is born, in fact, together with a new and violent revolt, a character who is the boy version of Lungura by Bacurau. Disturbing, profound, perhaps even prophetic.
Even if with a didactic aspect compared to Bacurau the film is alive and strong, especially when compared to the Ken Loach film, Sorry we missed you. Sorry to say it, but the old director does not seem to find the vitality, strength, anarchy and freedom perfectly embodied by the character of Io, Daniel Blake who in 2016 had earned him a deserved Palma.
Here too the analysis is deterministic to the nth degree, similar - the characters are prisoners of social and economic mechanisms - to Les misérables, but the tendency of the British director to be illustrative and didactic imprisons the film in his turn.
As families become increasingly indebted, food banks are spreading in the United Kingdom. One of these families tries new adventures thanks to the attractiveness of the digital, with the result to aggravate the own situation. Just a nothing caused by external events so that the first gradual implosion becomes dizzying. The family - the first place of community, that represented by loved ones - is no longer the refuge from the difficulties of the outside world but the very place of the crisis. Despite some relevant moments, including the finale, everything is too mechanical, strong characters are missing and the family as a whole is not able to be a character in turn, lacking free and inspired screenwriting and direction solutions.
However, these three titles, and others, offer us a festival that in a few days from its beginning reveals itself in its politically uncomfortable choices, even towards the government.