films seen
average score
Alive and kicking


Behind the Sun

Abril Despedaçado
2001 / 105m - Brazil
Behind the Sun poster

A pleasant Walter Salles. I was familiar with the title, not so much with the plot or setting. The premise is interesting and the performances solid, but it's Salles' somewhat delicate direction that makes the biggest difference. He takes his time to slow the narrative down to insert some moodier moments, which became the standout scenes.

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A feud between two families has been spiralling for generations. A piece of land has caused many deaths, and misplaced pride and honor are keeping the feud alive. Two young boys want to break that tradition, especially when they meet a young and alluring girl who travels with a circus.

There's ample room for sentimentality, and Salles' direction isn't especially subtle, but he finds moments of sheer beauty that temper the raging emotions. The plot is interesting enough and the finale is fitting, the runtime isn't overbearing. A solid film, one that deserves a bit more praise.

Dark Water

2005 / 105m - USA
Drama, Horror
Dark Water poster

A rather tepid remake of Nakata's film. Salles tries to enhance the drama, but by doing so he takes all the creep and scares out of Dark Water. The result is a sluggish intro that drags well into the second half, with a more spectacular finale that lacks impact. Not what you want from a film like this.

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The plot has remained virtually unchanged. After her divorce, Dahlia moves with her daughter Cecelia into a new apartment. The place is a dump, but they don't have a lot of money, so they have to make do. While they manage, Cecelia develops an imaginary friend who forces her to do things.

The performances are solid and they rainy atmosphere (there's not a single scene where it isn't raining) is almost oppressive. The drama isn't all that interesting though and the horror bits are pretty lame. It's one of those films that's got its balance all wrong, better stick with Nakata's film.

Central Station

Central do Brasil
1998 / 110m - Brazil
Central Station poster

Salles' breakthrough film. I was familiar with the title, but that was about it. That's not too uncommon for arthouse cinema, it's not my number one priority, though there are plenty of films that have enough appeal to warrant my attention. I can't say I was completely won over by this one, but don't let that hold you back from giving it a go.

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Dora is a former teacher who earns an extra buck writing letters for those who are illiterate. One of her clients has a young boy with her, soon after the woman gets hit by a bus and the boy has nowhere to go. At first Dora neglects the kid, but after a while she can't help but feel responsible for his well-being.

The cinematography is very pleasant and gives the film lots of extra flair, the drama on the other hand feels a bit simple and I never really cared enough about either of the leads to make this a success. The pacing is good though, and there are some memorable moments here, so it certainly wasn't a waste of time.

I'm a big fan of anthologies, and this project sounded very promising on paper. Seventy renowned directors give their vision on the future of cinema. With just one minute per short, there isn't much time to make a point, but it's disheartening to see how few of them even managed to stick to the topic.

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The saddest part was that many of the short didn't even deal with the future, but openly referred to or praised the medium's past. There's also a lot of doom and gloom, with some very basic visions of people not caring enough about arthouse cinema, or playing movies on their phones. Your typical old-man-yelling-at-cloud stuff.

There is only a small selection of directors who seem to have understood the brief, and they struggle to make the most of their limited runtime. What remains is a complete mess, with most shorts looking like they were made on people's afternoon off, and hardly anything that stands out. A disappointment.