The International Writers
- Director: Miguel Faria Jr.
Screen Writer: Miguel Faria Jr. and Diana
Production Company: Globo Filmes 2005
Featuring: Vinicius de Moraes, Susana Moraes, Yamandú
Costa, Ferreira Gullar, Antonio Cândido, Baden Powell, Carlos
Lyra, Nara Leão, Sergio Cassiano, João Gilberto,
Tom Jobim, Chico Buarque, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Maria
Vinicius is one of those films you would like to watch on a rainy
day. Or after a break-up with your loved one. Or maybe after finding
your loved one, cuddled up to he/she.
This is not the first Brazilian film produced around the subject of bossa
nova, the musical trend from the 1960s, which became increasingly famous
in the rest of the world due to Vinicius de Moraes and Tom Jobim, two
of its fathers. The girl from Ipanema (of whom I might add
there are many, tall, slim, slender, and all that, walking around the
streets of Ipanema at the moment), is one of Brazils most famous
export products, and even big house names like Frank Sinatra sang their
own version of it. As one will find in seeing the film, the girl
from Ipanema is not even the song the Brazilians are most proud
of; there are more, many more, where that tune came from.
The film was co-produced by Miguel Faria Jr., (who also produced O Xango
de Baker Street, in 2001) and Susana Moraes, who is one of Vinicius
daughters, from his first marriage. Miguel Faria Jr. also directed the
film, and the text in it is by Rubem Braga, a well-known Brazilian writer.
Vinicius was married nine times, and the documentary showcases this well
with images and interviews with most of the nine wives, plus children.
The Moraes name has become famous in Brazil, and most of his offspring
are talented people in the creative industries. He was born and bred in
Rio de Janeiro, and spent his whole life composing and writing, whilst
also juggling a diplomatic career in Brazil. One of his most famous traits,
however, was his alcoholism, and anyone who has seen a bossa nova concert,
or any footage of the group playing, will remember the endless bottles
of whisky sitting next to the likes of Vinicius, Jobim, Baden Powell,
and all the other bossa nova musicians.
The film opens well. It is a panning shot of Ipanema (a beach-side neighbourhood
in Rio de Janeiro) in the twenty first century. Beautiful yellow sand
makes its way down to the agitated sea, it might look a little rough,
but most Brazilians will jump straight in. The image soon cuts to footage
of Rios coast and the same beach fifty years ago, during the French
belle époque, when carioca (something from Rio) architecture
was mimicking the French, and when Vinicius was composing his music and
writing his poetry. These black and white images add to the very sombre
and dramatic composition of the films photography. This does not
make it boring, but accentuate the documental feeling that the film has.
The shots are mainly close-ups, a sensible choice for the interviews with
family and friends of the composer.
Poetry is in every scene. If you enjoy films with a good script, nothing
could be better than the quasi-documentary Vinicius, two actors, (Camila
Morgado and Ricardo Blat), perform duologues representing Vinicius
life. The poetry is quite prosaic, and some of his most famous lines are
recited by Blat. One of the classic favourites for all Brazilians is a
line from one of his songs, Eu Nao Existo Sem Voce, "todo grande
amor só é bem grande se for triste" (translated: any
true love is only true if it is sad).
As well as this, the film brings good theatre and cinema, such as Orfeu
Negro (Black Orpheus), a play written by Vinicius, which then got produced
into a film by Marcel Camus in 1959, with soundtrack by Vinicius de Moraes
and João Gilberto, and set design by Oscar Niemeyer, the renowned
Brazilian architect. Orfeu Negro won awards at the Cannes Film Festival
and at the Academy Awards.
Vinicius is a film jam-packed with A-listed Brazilian personalities, interviews
with Maria Betânia, Chico Buarque, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil
(who is the current Minister of Culture in Brazil), all of whom are part
of a younger generation who grew up listening to Vinicius and his bossa
nova on the radio and in the parties on the streets of Rio. In the 1970s
Vinicius and Baden Powell (not the Scoutmaster) toured all over Europe
performing their music. Public memory will recall a smiling man, aged,
slightly overweight, but still with a shine in his eyes. They will recall
the sweet melody of music, a group of beautiful backing vocals, songs
interluded by laughing and chatter, and stages covered with whiskey and
friends. Vinicius sat on stage as if he were sitting in his favourite
bar, and perhaps this is one of the qualities that gives the film its
great essence of easiness.
This is a film about love, and if you have ever been to Rio, you will
understand. Carlos Lyra, a popular musician, mentions the famous
summer of 62, which has never ended. This is the summer the
bossa nova was born, right there on the streets of Ipanema, between the
sunny sands and blue waves of the Rio coastline.
© Gabriela Davies Jan 2007
gabrieladavies at gmail.com
Grams (DVD Review)
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
How much does life weigh? This is the question that the narrator at
the end of 21 Grams does not ask. It is the question that is left posing
in the viewers mind,
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