Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Found Memories: Time Stands Still in Brazil
in a state of near suspended animation, routine and religion are sufficient to
sustain the old tradition-bound inhabitants of Jotuomba. Brazil’s economic revival has passed them
over, but it probably wasn’t welcome anyway.
However, one young backpacking photographer will find a reasonably warm
reception there in Júlia Murat’s Found
opens today in New York.
first light, Madalena bakes the bread she does not particularly like. She delivers it to Antonio’s customerless
coffee shop, where they engage in ritualistic bickering before enjoying the
simple pleasure of their morning java.
Then it is off to mass, followed by an early sit-down supper shared by
the handful of remaining villagers. This
pattern repeats every day, until Rita’s arrival introduces a slight bit of variation.
Rita clashes with her headstrong host, but she soon begins to appreciate
Madalena’s quiet dignity and grace.
Nostalgic for a past she never lived through, Rita is attracted to the decrepit
buildings and weathered townsfolk.
Through their meeting, she might find her destiny, but it will be in no
hurry to arrive.
Murat drops the occasional suggestion of magical realism here and there, Found is very definitely grounded in the
hardscrabble environment of Jotuomba. It
is so far removed from the passage of time, the priest has locked the cemetery,
a detail dripping with significance.
Often filmed by the light of gas lamps, Lucio Bonelli’s cinematography
has the warm chiaroscuro glow of the old masters. Viewers can practically feel the heat, even
at night, and smell the coffee beans in the morning. It might move at a slow pace, but Murat’s
film is very definitely headed someplace specific, with intent.
Madalena, Sonia Guedes conveys a lifetime’s worth of hardship, with poise and subtlety. It is a wonderfully earthy, unpretentious
performance. The same is true for Luiz
Serra’s deeply compassionate and rather touching turn as the prickly Antonio. While Lisa A. Fávero’s Rita is a bit of a
pill at times, watching her and the villagers warm to each other is oddly
is likely to frustrate casual viewers with its
deliberate tempo and coy approach to potentially fantastical elements. It looks great though and boasts several
remarkably natural performances. Given
the eleventh hour decision of Brazilian state petroleum giant Petrobras (the
potential recipient of controversial U.S. Export-Import Bank loans) to withdraw
funding from the New York edition of the Brazilian film festival bearing its
name has resulted in the cancellation of this year’s fest (save for the Central
Park kick-off screening of rock doc Raul),
the timely release of Found will
still allow City cineastes to get a bit of their Brazilian fix. Recommended with respect for hardcore
art-house patrons, Found Memories opens
today (6/1) at the Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, followed by a San Francisco Film
Society engagement the week of 6/22-6/28, courtesy of Film Movement.
Labels: Brazilian Cinema