Tag Archives: Cabíria

Tears in the dark

7 maio

People somtimes ask me if, when I am about to see a picture, I promptly take on that distant and cold attitude of a professional critic who observes, analyses and judges.

My answer always surprises those who ask me: when I am at the movie-house – or at home, playing the DVD set – I take off completely my “critic´s uniform” and surrender to the movie, body and soul, for whatever comes up. And what comes up may be any human reactions, including those too human.

Only later, as the English poet says, “recollected in tranquility”, I mentally recall the movie and, if by any chance, it was worthwhile, I do concentrate to analyze and evaluate.

I did not mention, above, the list of reactions I may have to a movie, but, I do feel the moral obligation of saying that those are the same that occur to the most naïve and unable spectator.

One of them, for instance, is crying. Yes, some movies make me cry, so much that the tears flurry, not only my vision, but also my supposed ability to discern.

Fellini´s "Nights of Cabiria": a tear and a smile in the final scene.

Fellini´s “Nights of Cabiria”: a tear and a smile in the final scene.

If you want an example, I could never watch the final scene in “Nights of Cabiria” (Fellini, 1957) without pouring tears, and even now that I recall it to write about, I do feel like crying.

I think Fellini was pretty mean to conceive that kind of denouement; mean to Cabiria and mean to the viewer. The poor woman had suffered blows after blows, and this final scene is totally unbearable. It should have been the sublime moment when, despite the blows, she had come to believe in love again, and, however, her “charming prince” proves to be a thief who, in the dark forest, near the abyss verge, runs away with her belongings. Next morning, when Cabiria meets those gay young people who play, sing and dance around her, she still can show a smile, but…

In Frank Capra´s “It´s a wonderful life” (1946) George Baily is a householder who, a Christmas Eve, can see no way out of his debts except committing suicide. As he tries it, someone else enters the scenery and the whole story takes an unexpected and strange course. Bewitched by the angel Clarence, George looks for his relatives all over town and can not find any: in this unfamiliar, gloomy new world, his wife, Mary, had become a neurotic spinster, his mother is the owner of a whorehouse, and his brother is just a name in a tomb… In a moment of total despair, not knowing what to do or where else to go, he runs towards the screen (yes, towards us) as if to ask for help. This moment chokes me and…

Un unifamiliar, gloomy new world for George Baily: Capra´s "It´s a wonderful life"

An unifamiliar, gloomy new world for George Baily: Capra´s “It´s a wonderful life”

In David Lean´s “Brief encounter” (1945) Laura is a simple housewife, with two kids, a mind-limited husband and an unimaginative life ahead. Every Thursday she takes the train to a neighboring town, where she finally meets this also married doctor who… The scene in which this woman in love is forced by circumstances to return back to the husband she does not love, and, sitting at the sitting room, after recalling a whole love story, hears the husband thank her for getting out of this “nightmare” and come back to his arms: all this under Rachmaninoff´s sound track…

I never wrote critical essays on these movies, and if I ever did, I was not at all satisfied with the results. My emotional reaction inevitably interferes with the analysis and, after all, I would rather leave them untouched. By the way, I do not even see these three movies very often, for, in my religion of cinephile, they are sacred icons for whom a constant visitation might sound like profanity.

Back into an unimaginative domestic life: David Lean´s "Brief encounter"

Back into an unimaginative domestic life: David Lean´s “Brief encounter”

Actually I should say very few movies make me cry, and the ones who do are all old movies, from the first half of the twentieth century. Modern cinema never pulled out a tear from my eyes, I wonder whether the problem is mine or its. I do not even know if it is a problem.

The crying effect is connected to a special genre, the melodrama, a genre that lost prestige with the coming of modernity.

I do not know how far the three movies I mentioned may be called melodramas, but, there is one thing I know: they are too big to fit any genre.

Poesia

8 ago

A crítica é cheia de paradoxos. Ou seria o crítico? Às vezes filmes ruins me instigam a escrever, e, às vezes, um filme ótimo me sugere ficar calado.

Uma sugestão de silêncio – mas de silêncio respeitoso – me deu esse excelente “Poesia” (“Shi”, 2010) do sul coreano Chang-dong Lee, que tive a sorte de ver nesse novo Canal Arte-1 da televisão paga.

Sim, alimento a sensação de que escrever sobre esse doce e terno filme é como maculá-lo. E, paradoxalmente, escrevo, pois me vejo no afã de divulgá-lo. Se pudesse, ao invés de escrever, tiraria cópias, e carinhosamente distribuiria entre os amigos.

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Devo começar dizendo que, neste cinema do terceiro milênio que me chega, poucas vezes vi um personagem, cativante e verdadeiro, tão bem construído como essa Sra Misha, de sessenta e seis anos de idade que, acometida de lapsos de memória, se matricula num curso de poesia. Caminhando devagar pelas calçadas de Seul, Misha destoa da pressa reinante, com sua elegância e sua delicadeza – seu rosto de sessentona ainda é bonito, seu corpo ainda é esguio e o chapéu branco, ligeiramente antiquado, que teima em usar, lhe concede um ar vagamente aristocrático.

Não sei se vou conseguir passar a sua beleza interior, mas começo com o óbvio, o que o enredo me fornece, até porque o enredo é outro enorme mérito do filme.

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Viúva há muito, Misha viveria sozinha, não fosse por esse neto, filho de pais separados, que ela praticamente é obrigada a hospedar – um adolescente hostil, com quem não consegue se entender, embora faça todos os esforços.

Um dia Misha ouve a notícia de que uma jovem de dezesseis anos cometera suicídio, jogando-se da ponte no rio que banha Seul. Não apenas tem a notícia como, indo ao hospital para exames, testemunha uma cena terrível: a mãe da moça morta, enfurecida pelo desespero, gritando e se arrastando pelo chão como uma louca.

Logo depois, vem o pior: Misha é secretamente procurada por uma comitiva de pais, cujos filhos haviam estuprado a jovem, e o neto de Misha estava entre eles. Os pais a procuram porque, juntos, estão – sem que a polícia ou a imprensa o saiba – coletando dinheiro para uma indenização.

Sem maiores recursos, Misha não tem como levantar a quantia pedida. Vive de pensão, e de um eventual trabalho de cuidadora – cuida de um senhor idoso que, acometido de AVC, mora só em seu apartamento de classe média.

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Todos esses problemas – inclusive os lapsos de memória, diagnosticados como início de Alzheimer – não impedem Misha de continuar freqüentando o curso de poesia, onde o professor afirma que todo mundo é capaz de fazer poemas, pois a poesia está dentro de nós. Misha sempre gostou de flores e de palavras estranhas e isso lhe dá a ilusão de que possa vir um dia a escrever um poema. Gasta tempo fitando a natureza em busca de uma inspiração, que nunca vem. Ou (devo contar o resto da estória?) vem tarde.

Enquanto isso, impressionada com a morte da jovem, Misha vai até o local do suicídio, a ponte sobre o rio, e – triste prolepse – o vento arranca-lhe o chapéu, que cai nas águas sombrias.

Incumbida pela equipe dos pais, visita a mãe da jovem, no campo, porém, a visita não dá frutos, salvo um, literal, que Misha apanha do chão e mastiga. As duas mulheres conversam sobre frutas maduras e Misha volta como foi, sem soluções. Uma única, precária, é que furta o retrato da garota morta e o leva para casa, pondo-o à mesa, diante do neto delinqüente.

Ainda que por meios nada edificantes – espécie de estupro consentido – Misha consegue, com o senhor de quem cuida, enfim, o dinheiro para a cota indenizadora, o que não impede que, um dia, a polícia apareça em sua rua e leve o neto preso.

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No fim do curso, nenhum aluno cumpriu a tarefa do professor, a de escrever um poema, salvo Misha, que não comparece a essa aula final, e, com um buquê de flores, envia o poema – o seu primeiro e (lembremos o chapéu no rio) último.

Enquanto se ouve a voz que lê o poema de Misha (primeiramente a do professor, depois a dela, depois a da adolescente morta), a câmera vai se deslocando na direção da ponte do suicídio e nós, espectadores, entendemos que houve outro. Não apenas as águas turvas do rio, filmadas assustadoramente de perto, nos dizem isto, como também as palavras estranhas e belas do poema que se escuta.

Desliguei a tv meio engasgado, me lembrando de outra vítima feminina do mundo dos homens, que a cada revisitação, me faz chorar, a Cabíria de Fellini.

Comecei esta matéria falando dos paradoxos da crítica. Um a mais é não atingir, na composição do texto, o nível de qualidade do filme, como é o caso aqui.

Portanto, vejam o filme e esqueçam a crítica.

Poetry 3

Poetry

8 ago

Movie criticism is full of paradoxes. Or is it the critic himself? Sometimes bad movies lead me to writing, and, sometimes, a very good movie suggests I should be silent.

A suggestion of silence – respectful silence! – has given me this excellent “Poetry” (“Shi”, 2012) by South-Korean Chang-dong Lee, which I was luck enough to watch on paid tv.

Yes, I do have the feeling that writing about this sweet and tender film is like maculating it. And, paradoxally, I write for, of course, I intend  to publicize it. Actually, if I could, instead of writing, I would get copies, and, kindly, distribute with dear friends.

poetry poster

I should begin by saying that, within this Third Millenium Cinema I happen to know, very few times I came across such a captivating and true character, so well built, as this Mrs Mija, a lady of sixty-six who, with problems of memory, enrolls in a poetry course. Going slowly through the sidewalks of Seoul, Mija makes a difference, with her elegancy and finesse – her old face is still beautiful, her body is still slim and her slightly old-fashioned white hat, which she insists in wearing, gives her a vaguely aristocratic look.

I wonder if I will be able to convey her interior beauty, but, I start with that which is obvious – whatever the plot offers me, and the plot is another enormous merit in the film.

A widow for some time, Mija would live alone, were it not for this grandson, the son of separate parents, whom she practically is forced to lodge – a hostile teenager whom she can not understand, despite the many daily efforts.

One day Mija hear the news that a young girl had committed suicide, throwing herself from the bridge into the waters of the Han river. Not only this, but, going to the hospital for exams, she witnesses a terrible scene: the desperate dead girl´s mother, out of control, crying and throwing herself on the ground like a mad woman.

poetry 2

Very soon came the worst: Mija is secretly visited by a committee of male parents, whose sons had raped the girl, and Mija´s grandson was one of them. The parents went to her because, all togehter, they are collecting a certain amount of money for an indemnity, and, of course, the Police and the press are not supposed to know about it.

Without much means, Mija does not know how to raise the money. She lives on a poor allowance and, an on eventual work as sitter. At present, she takes care of an old man who had a stroke, and lives all by himself in his middle class apartment.

All these problems – including the blanks of memory, diagnosed as Alzheimer – do not stop Mija from attending the poetry course, where the teacher ensures that everybody is able to write poems, for poetry is within every one of us. Mija has always been fond of flowers and of strange words, and this gives her the illusion she may one day be able to write a poem. She spends time with Nature, looking for an inspiration that never comes. Or  does it too late. (Should I tell the end of the story?).

Meanwhile, troubled by the girl´s death, Mija goes as far as the suicide place, the bridge over the Han river, and – sad prolepsis – the wind blows her hat, which falls down on the dark waters.

By suggestion of the parents committe, she visits the dead girl´s mother, in the field, but, the visit is aimless: the two women talk about ripe fruits, and things like these, and Mija comes back without solutions.  Except for the fact that, not knowing what to do, she steals a picture of the dead girl, and takes it home, putting it over the table, for her delinquent grandson to see.

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Through not very honorable means – a kind of painful consented rape – Mija gets the money for the indemnity with the old man she takes care of – and, however, a few days later, inevitably, the police appear on her street, and take her grandson to prison.

By the end of the poetry course, none of the students had fulfilled the task of writing a poem, except Mija, who does not come to class, and, together with a bouquet of flowers, sends her written poem to be read – her first (remember the hat on the river?) and last one. While one hears the voice-over that reads Mija´s poem (first the teacher´s, than hers, than the dead girl´s), the camera moves toward the suicide bridge and, we then understand that another suicide occurred. Not only the frighteningly dark waters of the Han river, closely shot, tell us this, but also the strange and beautiful words in the poem we hear.

I turned off the TV set kind of choking, remembering another female victim of men´s world, one that always makes me cry: Fellini´s Cabiria.

I began this post by mentioning the paradoxes of movie criticism. An additional one is not attaining, in the composition of the text, the same level of quality as the movie discussed – which is the case here. So, dear reader, see the movie, and forget this piece of criticism.

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