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NYFF: Aquarius team wows again with "Bacurau"

by Jason Adams

You think you know somebody. You think you've got it all figured out. You think you sit down to a movie at the New York Film Festival you're gonna see something respectable -- something serious and challenging. But hyper-violent revenge westerns? Those are for Toronto. 

Well Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles' film Bacurau already played Toronto, and now it is playing NYFF, and it somehow splits the difference -- it's somehow an ass-blistering revenge fable with exploding heads, while also being a deadly serious story of an indigenous community terrorized by big business interests. It is, quite simply, the sort of movie we'll look back on from the future -- assuming there is a future -- and say, "Yup, that got it just right..."

The town of the title sits in the middle of nowhere, Brazil. The people have somehow cobbled together a community, seemingly built out of the stones and clay and scrub-brush, and they seem happy enough -- they have lots of complaints, mostly due to bloviating politicians and outside forces interrupting their way of life. But they have those complaints together, and there's nothing that brings people together like common sources of outrage.

Unfortunately for Bacurau and all these folks in there, their town in the middle of nowhere is right in the way of somewhere -- of what it's unclear, perhaps a pipeline, perhaps lands to mine. Whatever the case the powers that be have dropped a great big target down on the town, and a team of mostly foreign mercenaries -- including a team leader played with typical B-Movie panache by the legend Udo Kier -- have descended, cut off the exits, and are prepared to scrub that brush of every living thing in it.

Bacurau is a 21st century Spaghetti Western with drones and cell signal blockers coming up against good old fashioned machetes and big ass holes in the ground, and it's the most spirited, stand up from your seat and cheer flick I have seen this entire year. It works because it knows outrage in its bones, and feels it for us, and blows it back like brain matter. Sonia Braga, re-teaming with her Aquarius team, leads the charge and enters the movie an appropriate whirlwind, but this is very much a team effort and Bacurau, a sand-blasted scofflaw place, is a joint you can root for. 

Bacurau plays tonight, October 1st at 8:45 PM and tomorrow night October 2nd at 6:00 PM. Both screenings followed by a Q&A with the director and Sonia Braga

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Reader Comments (11)

A good but overrrated movie, it's no longer just a movie, it´s an attemp to become a pillar of hypocritical resistance, further worsening the division in the country where we finally have a president who doesn't follow progressive ideologies and agendas that are ending the world.

October 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAlessandro

Love the movie and your review!

October 1, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterremy

Thanks for the review. I was thinking of catching this when it plays at FilmFest910 next week in the Raleigh/Durham area.

October 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterErik

"we finally have a president who doesn't follow progressive ideologies and agendas that are ending the world."

Can somebody tell him that people like Bolsonaro are the ones who are going to "end the world"? Can anyone tell him the evil values of Bolsonaro are not a good fit for this comments section? This blog belongs to a LGBT person, and racial diversity, respect for nature, science and education are things this blog shares, clearly. This is a safe place for people who are not into social media because here we know we won't read the hate speech that is so specific of people like Bolsonaro and his followers.

Can we keep it that way, Nathaniel?

October 1, 2019 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Please ignore Alessandro. I’m a Brazilian and we’re proud of this film. The ones deepening the political divide are on his side

October 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterGustavo Cruz

Bolsonaro' supporters hated this movie, even if they never watched in the first place. The movie debuted in the 6th place and has added more screens and remains in the top 10 for 4 weeks. Half a million viewers in Brazil with little press support.

Nathaniel, it's so sad to read fake news from bolsominions in your comments sections. The Film Experience was, for me, a safe haven from all the atrocities happening in my real life.

October 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterTony Fernando

This film have resonated so deeply with me and lots of others who are resisting through the terrible times our country is facing right now under Bolsonaro's administration, which includes the dismentle of our cultural production, including pictures.
We are living through times when a national museum went down in flames, just like our forests, our memories and our hopes. Only movies like this can gave us relief. Such as Aquarius, is a document for this dark times.

October 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJota

The movie is very good.

I am so happy to read comments from supporters of diversity on this blog. The current president of Brazil is a shame to liberty, education and humankind.

October 2, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMarcelo - Brazil

Alessandro is clearly one of those people who lives in disillusion thinking that "progressive ideologies and agendas are ending the world". It´s so sad. And the movie is great and riveting.

October 2, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterFabio

Oh my god, I can´t believe there is a person that reads this blog and is a bozonaro supporter. I think he does not understand what most movies have tried to say and show the world.

October 2, 2019 | Unregistered Commentermimo

As a Brazilian, I feel disgusted to see a Bolsonazi supporter here in Alessandro, the first comment. According to the guy he says doesn’t follow progressive agendas that are ending the world, my existence as a gay man is a product of mental illness and I would make my parents more proud if I were dead.

Alessandro is either completely ignorant about the reality of others around or you’re a disgusting piece of trash not capable of empathy if he says progressive values are ending the world. Go back to the neonazi sewer you came from, we already are sick of your shit in the real world.

As for the movie, it’s currently my third fave of the year, after Parasite and Midsommar! There are some things that Brazilians will get more easily, like the divide between North Brazil and South Brazil reflecting real life tensions between regions of the country, but the core message of resistance against Fascism and Imperialism is universal!

October 2, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterEdu

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