Crazy – Um Dia Muito Louco (Victor Lima, Brazil, 1981)

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This is the kind of fluff I spend a lot of time watching but seldom seems worth the bother of reviewing. But this time why not? It’s an amiable bit of fluff if nothing else.

Our hero shoots his housemate dead (I don’t know why but the rat must have had it coming to him otherwise how are we going to identify with the protagonist?). He spends the rest of the film fending off a sequence of callers at the front door (tip for domestic murderers – always bury the body before you advertise his room in the paper).

The first knock on the door of any interest is from Belinda (Alba Valeria). She has what I call the Latin American Revolutionary look (at least until I can think of something more snappy (chic guevara maybe?)). She is soon stepping out of her “combat fatigues” and standing by the umbrella stand in her pants gabbling too fast to understand and making frantic hand gestures. I have a vain hope she is explaining herself.

Meanwhile next door there appears to have been a mix-up as two lads are photographing two naked young lovelies without any film in their cameras. Without even any cameras in fact! Oh dear, some girls are so naïve.

So that was sort of alright, who’s next at the door? We’re in luck, it’s Helena Ramos selling Bibles! And wearing glasses too – why can’t she always be so demure? Helena takes longer than the last one but eventually, after a certain amount of pantomiming with the corpse (sorry sick relative) from our hero, seems to have got the idea she can kip down in the hallway. So we have a shy striptease complete with old-fashioned girdle and suspenders. Nice but I wish she’d left her specs till last. And so it goes on.

This farce is fairly typical of the Brazilian sex comedy fare of the time, a shortlived genre called pornochanchada. Most were cheaply made using location filming and little if any support from original music, action sequences or special effects departments. Nevertheless at its best the results stand comparison with popular European cinema of a few years earlier. Jean Garret made sophisticated pastiche Euro-style psychodramas, while Ody Fraga developed an indigenous comic style of gentle absurdity. Crazy Crazy Day is cheaper and clumsier than the average, being essentially an old-fashioned farce set mostly in a domestic hallway, but has an innocent easy-going appeal.

Crazy – Um Dia Muito Louco clip with Helena Ramos

Helena Ramos in Crazy - Um Dia Muito Louco Helena Ramos in Crazy - Um Dia Muito Louco Helena Ramos in Crazy - Um Dia Muito Louco

Rating:   ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 2/5

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“Crazy – Um Dia Muito Louco” “Helena Ramos” “Victor Lima” “pornochanchada”
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A Mulher Sensual (Antônio Calmon, Brazil, 1981)

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There’s something very wrong with the cars in Latin America. At first you could mistake them for European models, but look closer and the styles are different. Just hideous ugly, like someone had put them through a crusher then had them fashioned back to shape again by a retarded panel-beater working from memory. The vintage roadster Helena Ramos drives to the TV studio in the opening of The Sensual Woman for instance. It reminds you of the really cool one driven by Camille Keaton in Madeleine, Study of a Nightmare. Except it’s not cool at all, it’s an embarrassment, practically in the jalopy class. Helena doesn’t drive it at all well either. She seems under-confident, and when she parks on the pavement looks sheepish, like she’d messed up the take. And surely in this cheapo psycho-drama from Brazil one take was all she had.

So Marina (for that is the name of the actress Helena is playing) bounces into make-up. Except she doesn’t bounce, she slips in shyly in glasses clutching her script to her chest, like she was a production assistant on her first day in the job rather than the star of a hot colonial era costume drama she is. This woman, struggling in her relationship with her TV executive lover, has become highly strung, withdrawn and almost frigid. Clearly something must be done.

The plot is very similar to Helena’s classic Mulher Objeto. They were apparently made around the same time, though it’s not clear which was first. But whereas Objeto has imaginative ideas, executed with great cinematic flair, this has clichéd plot devices wearily ground out in the tackiest ways. Some of the “erotic fantasies” look like the ones with Julie Andrews in S.O.B.. Bleurgh.

The saving grace of this production is Helena’s glasses. They make her look delectable. What a contrast to the ugly squat rectangles worn by women today. Now here’s a chance to do something about it; point to a picture of them – “look at those glasses, what a beautiful style, see how they suit her”, you can say, “why don’t you ask about having a pair made up like that?”.

Lots of dull things happen. Marina buys a place in the country; “New house, new life” she says (yes, I’ve watched so many of these things I’m actually starting to understand snatches of dialogue). The best episode is when Marina’s therapist (Monique Lafond) asks her to take her clothes off and pose for photographs. Not that it’s an original idea, or very well executed. It’s just that two women shyly taking snaps of each other in the nude is an archetypal plot device that can never be done wrong. Eventually Marina is caught by her lover being sodomised by a stranger while Bizet’s Carmen blares from the stereo. The sordid act is even reflected in the cuckolded guy’s cool shades, yet he turns away with only the sort of mildly embarrassed distaste usually reserved for those who insist on showing off their verrucas. Not recommended then, except naturally for those of us who prefer girls in glasses.



Clip: Helena Ramos shy nude photos (26.0MB)

Rating:   ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 1/5

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“Helena Ramos” “A Mulher Sensual” “Antônio Calmon” “Brazil sex comedy”
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O Sonho Não Acabou (Sergio Rezende, Brazil, 1982)

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Literally the title means The Dream’s Not Over in English. A freer translation might be Bloody Students if that’s not too cynical. It’s the tale of young folks in Brasilia, the drugs they take, and the dreams they cling to.

The male lead rides a motorbike-sidecar combo and looks like Ayrton Senna. His wooly hat even has the same colours as the F1 ace’s helmet. I wonder if he influenced Senna in any way? Ayrton would only have been twelve (edit: can’t count, he would’ve been 22 but never mind) when this premiered thus easily led. But come to think of it even a twelve-year-old would turn his nose up at this guy’s outfit. It’s green, and the sidecar has a tacky shark’s teeth motif. “No chance, I’m not getting in that”, the lad would say, “it’s naff!”.

Such a sentiment sums up the whole film really. It tries to be ever so swinging and with-it, but doesn’t realise it’s not the ‘sixties any more. These young folks seem to be mostly pushing thirty for a start. And the things they find to amuse themselves would bore even the pipe-and-carpet-slippers brigade to tears. An early set-piece has the gang bully a security guard into letting them on a roof to watch the sunrise. Which they do, and love every minute – off their faces on drugs it must be said, but you’d have to be in a coma to find much entertainment value in that.

And so it goes on, an itinerary of zero-imagination activities performed by a cast of unlikable people; everything from putting on a show to swimming in the buff, from mixing with a religious cult to dying in childbirth. On the plus side, it’s quite attractively photographed, but that’s about it.

Rating:   ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 2/5

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Vidas Nuas (Ody Fraga, Brazil, 1967)

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Vidas-Nuas-f84048654-005There are some films so strange in style and outlook they seem to be the creation of a visitor from another planet.  The cult horror The Curious Dr. Humpp (1969) from Argentina is one, and this an early piece from Brazil’s master of the sex comedy Ody Fraga is another.

Vidas-Nuas-f84048654-008The setting, a wealthy urban household, with a love-starved daughter, amorous step-father and adulterous wife, is clichéd enough. But as we meet the family for the first time in their sitting room one evening we find the treatment is exquisitely off-key. They lounge like statues in ostensibly normal but indefinably odd places and postures. The contrast of the lighting is so stark film noir turns into gothic, Mannerisms are so stiffly odd that answering the telephone becomes an exercise in absurdity. The husband passes the receiver straight to his wife without even listening – “It’s for you”.

Vidas-Nuas-f84048654-006The sexy teenage daughter (Nelcy Martins) is coiffed oddly enough to be the prototype for Eraserhead. Alone in her room she cradles her enormous teddy bear, but like a lover or like a baby? Meanwhile, beyond the cocoon of domestic security, streets yawn as cavernously as something from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. In the naked city lives are laid bare…

Ody Fraga was always an odd sort, but I’ve never known him odder than here. Watching his later Pornochanchadas you tend to notice something about them is wrong, but you can’t tell exactly what. It’s a puzzler. And then you realise – people are taking far too long to walk to their cars or cross over the street!!. There are other things too. Occasional overdone gestures, out of focus scenes, or crazy point-of-view shots. Sex scenes are bizarrely fetishistic, and the lovers go outdoors naked in the middle for fag breaks.

Vidas-Nuas-f84048654-002It’s easy to put these Odyisms down to incompetence and go and watch something else. But Fraga knew exactly what he was doing: showing us his outlook on life, namely an inability to take anything entirely seriously. And he was very good with his actresses, especially the plain or odd-looking ones, getting the most out of them by encouraging their natural eccentricities.

Vidas Nuas depends much more on visual style than his later works. Florid strings on the soundtrack contrast with an interloping pop band, girls shaking their heads almost convulsively to the beat. Watching is like entering a dream world, and spotting the many incongruities can provoke guffaws of laughter.


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Rating:   ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 5/5

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“Vidas Nuas” “Ody Fraga” “Nelcy Martins”
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