Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 21, 2019 12:07 pm 
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A woman of no means making her way alone

Juliana (Grace Passô) has moved from Itaúnas to a new region, Contagem (a municipality located near Belo Horizonte) to work as a public health inspector seeking dangers of dengue fever. Her husband Carlos has not come along yet. Actually relations between Juliana and her mate are not too good after a pregnancy disaster. Butt André Novias Oliveira isn't concerned with drama so much as feasting on the quotidian, as disaster creeps into it, vageuly glimpsed, extracting beauty from the banal.

Juliana works in a team, and there are friendly relations right away, especially with the big corpulent Russão (rapper Russo Apr) and the tall thin Hélio (Hélio Ricardo). She has to bang on the metal gates a lot to get people to answer, but mostly they're friendly about being inspected, except for one bitchy lady. An easygoing mood prevails. Underneath, things are complicated.

Essential to the success of this second feature by Novias Oliveira is Grace Passô, who draws us into the quiet depth of a middle-aged woman of color in suburban Brazil patiently making her way. One writer at Brazilia said the filmmaker "achieved something reserved for artists: making a film that can interest the viewer for nearly two hours without broaching any subject, no character, no landscape, nothing particularly special." This is an affectionate and attentive look at nondescript, "invisible" people. The subtitles, at the risk of incongruity with phrases like "What up, bro?", "For real," "She's so fucking hot," do their best to convey the strong colloquial flavor of the dialogue. Where the film and its cinematographer excel is in conveying all the different kinds of colorful spaces its characters occupy in the course of a day, including cluttered shops, tiny dwellings with Playstation, and a downmarket hairdressing school.

Juliana isn't a tragic figure, a comic figure, or a heroic one, just a person of good will and courage with an ability to enjoy life, and as the film progresses she becomes more and more real and the film becomes more and more engaging, rich, and unpredictable. A remarkable little film that embodies many of the qualities of small indie Latin American films but has a quality of its own.

Long Way Home/Temporada ("Season"), 113 mins., debuted at Locarno Aug. 2018, and was included in at least five other international festivals including Torino, Rotterdam and Gothenburg; awarded Best Film prize at Brazilia. Limited release in Brazil. Jan. 2019. Screened for this review as part of the 2019 MoMA-Film Society of Lincoln Center series New Directors/New Films.

ND/NF Showtimes; March 31, 3:15 PM; April 2, 8:45 PM
New York Premiere · Q&As with André Novais Oliveira on March 31 & April 2


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