More film capsule reactions:
The 12 Labors
Set in Sao Paolo, Brazil, this story of a young man two months out of two years in juvenile jail who gets a job as a motorcycle messenger, is a good look at Sao Paolo and its insane traffic, class divisions, etc., but like too many Brazilian films, it’s predictable, a bit cliche’d, finaly boring for the telenovela shallowness of the characters. Kind of Brazil’s version of Horatio Alger, the poor kid who heroically escapes a life of crime… heartwearming and sleep inducing–of course it was my 4th movie of the day when I saw it!
Set in Chad, the story of a young man about 20 or so named Atim, meaning orphan, who listens to the Truth and Justice Commission’s decision to grant general amnesty to all war criminals from the Civil War. His blind grandfather then bids him to get justice for his dead father by killing his murderer. That man turns out to be a baker and strong Muslim now, aware he caused a lot of harm in his life. Atim travels to his city and becomes his apprentice, wrestling with is urges to shoot him throughout. The great climax, the man wants to adopt Atim and accompanies him to meet his father. (Atim, who is occasionally quite animated and charming, is mostly sullen, filled with rage, and quite mute.) Instead they find grandpa in the desert waiting for Atim’s return. He demands that Atim humiliate the man like his father was, so he is forced to disrobe. Then grandpa says “execute him!”–Atim saves him by feigning it, shotting in the air. Grandpa orders the coup de grace, and Atim feigns it again, fooling the blind grandfather. Atim joins grandpa and they walk away opposite from the terrified baker. Grandpa asks “did you hand shake?” and Atim says “no” and grandpa says “now you are a man.” End of movie… !
Sounds of Sand
Relentlessly bleak, a too-healthy family with beautiful smiles and teeth are forced to migrate when their Sahel village water dries up. The bulk of the film is their impossible trip across the desert, attacked by drug-addled “rebels” and slowly dying of thirst, losing their goats and belongings, one son is taken hostage, another is killed pointlessly. The little girl who was threatened with smothering at the outset of the film, is the only one to survive with her father, when they are saved by a UNHCR patrol from coma in the stark white desert. The refugee camp seems like paradise after this film!