Saturday, December 29, 2007

Love and Music

Love for Sale (2006, Brazil, Director Karim Ainouz): Rating 6.5/10

The only reason I got Love for Sale (or Suely in the Sky) was because of Karim Ainouz. I had enjoyed Ainouz's previous directorial venture Madame Satã and his writing in Cinema, Aspirins and Vultures & Lower City. But I have to admit that after seeing 15 films in my Brazilian spotlight this year, Love for Sale was one movie too much. The story is reflected in other Brazilian films I saw this year, especially in Deserto Feliz.

In Deserto Feliz, a girl leaves her village for Sao Paulo. But in the big cruel city, she is forced into prostitution to make ends meet and longs for an escape from Sao Paulo. In Love for Sale Hermila returns back from Sao Paulo to Iguatu with her young baby and moves into her mother-in law's house. Gradually it is clear that Hermila's 20 year old husband has no interest in looking after her and the baby as he stays in the city and does not attempt to make contact with her. So Hermila longs for an escape far away from Iguatu. But since she has no money, she comes up with a scheme to raffle off her body.

Like most recent Brazilian films, the production values of Love for Saleare top-notch. I am a big fan of Walter Carvalho and as usual his cinematography perfectly captures the visuals of a hot Brazilian landscape. There are some neat camera techniques here but overall, the story had the air of inevitability that I had found in a handful of other recent Brazilian films dealing with such a topic.

Music as escape from Poverty & Misery:

Once (2006, Ireland, Director John Carney): Rating 7.5/10

This charming Irish films shows two characters who live on the fringes of modern society's economic charts but can easily be found in any European city's core. The guy plays his guitar on street sides hoping to earn some money for his talent while the girl is an immigrant from the Czech Republic who roams the Dublin city core selling red roses.

The smart usage of hand-held cameras give the movie an earthy feel and allows to us to experience these character's bitter sweet life. When things get tough, both the guy and girl find solace in music. The girl provides the inspiration for the guy to finally follow his dream of getting his music recorded.

La Vie en Rose (2007, French co-production, Director Olivier Dahan): Rating 7.5/10

In Once the guy sang on street corners while playing his guitar. In La Vie en Rose, Edith Pilaf (Marion Cotillard in a riveting performance) also stood on street corners to sing but she only relied on her soulful voice -- her powerful voice could stop traffic and lighten any wary heart. The film shows her rise to fame from a background of poverty to her performance at music halls in Paris and New York. The best parts of the film are where we get to listen to her booming voice.

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