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Brazilian Directors: Films In & Outside Brazil

Daniela Thomas

Midnight

Midnight (DVD)
Midnight (VHS)
directed by Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas
(1998)

Refusing to spend the last day of the 20th century in prison, Joao (Luis Carlos Vasconcellos) agrees to murder his best friend in return for his freedom. Out of desperation, Maria (Fernanda Torres), a beautiful young speech thereapist looks to end her life after being abandoned by the man she loves. The two meet on the rooftop of a building overlooking Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana beach. As the new millennium approaches and fireworks ignite around them, Joao and Maria make a commitment to reclaim their hope and begin a new life.
 

Foreign Land

Foreign Land (DVD)
Foreign Land (VHS)
directed by Walter Salles & Daniela Thomas
(1995)

A simple but superb little thriller. Aspiring actor Paco (Fernando Alves Pinto) lives in a poor area of São Paolo, Brazil, with his mother, who yearns to go back to her native Spain. When she dies abruptly, Paco finds himself without direction and falls in with a man named Igor, who asks him to carry an antique violin to Lisbon. There he finds himself caught up in a black-market scam, from which his only hope of escape is a woman named Alex (Fernanda Torres)--only Alex has an agenda of her own. Foreign Land resembles a lean, low-budget film noir like Detour or The Asphalt Jungle, only filmed with the spare yet beautiful visual aesthetic of a director like Antonioni. The gritty black and white images are astoundingly gorgeous, yet visual style never gets in the way of an engrossing, emotionally compelling crime story. As Paco and Alex drive to the border of Spain, hoping to escape the dangerous mess their lives have become, Foreign Land becomes downright heartbreaking. Sexy, suspenseful, poetic, and shot through with dark, ironic humor--basically, this is the movie just about every American director wants to make but doesn't know how. A knockout. --Bret Fetzer


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