Of the three films I’m planning to catch today, Kleber Mendonca Filho and Juliano Dornelles‘ Brazilian, politically-driven Bacarau (which screens tonight at 10 pm) seems to have a special energy, to go by the trailer. Filho’s last film, Aquarius, played in Cannes three years ago. Sonia Braga stars in both.
Boilerplate: “Bacurau, a small town in the Brazilian countryside, mourns the loss of its matriarch, Carmelita, who lived to be 94. Days later, its inhabitants notice that their community has vanished from most maps.”
Filho to The Jarkata Post: “I am a Brazilian filmmaker. I live at a time when Brazilian society is suffering and stories are springing up.”
Expectations about Annie Silverstein‘s Bull (screening at 2 pm — I’ve blown off the 11 am showing) are a tad hazy. The clip that was posted a few hours ago seems to lack that certain charge. It’s set in a Houston suburb, and deals with black backyard rodeos. A synopsis suggests that Bull may be somewhat reminiscent of Chloe Zhao‘s The Rider, at least partly.
Eric Kohn‘s Indiewire review notes this also. He calls Bull “an understated footnote to Zhao’s ethereal achievement,” adding that “too often [Silverstein’s] drama tends to fall into American gothic tropes, as if intent on draining the joy from these characters’ lives. Silverstein’s naturalism-by-the-numbers approach would feel awfully reductive if it weren’t carried by a pair of astounding performances that hover on a plane of their own, generating unique chemistry that finds its emotional center with time.”
The third film, Ladj Ly‘s Les Miserables (so titled because it offers a contemporary echo of Victor Hugo‘s classic tale), is set in a poor, tough African suburb of Paris — no clues or premonitions about this one.
Bull synopsis: “After trashing her neighbor’s house in a fit of youthful defiance, 14-year-old Kris (Amber Havard) seems destined to follow in her mother’s footsteps to the state penitentiary. To make amends, she is forced to help Abe Turner (Rob Morgan), an ex-bull rider scraping by on the Texas rodeo circuit, with errands at home and at his work. While traveling with Abe, she discovers a passion for bull riding.
“Yet, as Kris sets out to learn the dangerous sport, bad influences back home in her leafy subdivision outside Houston lure her back into delinquent ways. Abe, meanwhile, struggles with the aches and pains of growing older and aging out of the only life he has ever known in the rarely glimpsed world of backyard rodeos.
“The story of two disparate souls at a crossroads who forge an unexpected connection, helping each other see new possibilities and hope for the future, Bull marks Silverstein’s feature debut.”