Thursday, July 7, 2016

Neon Bull (orig. Boi Neon) [2015]

MPAA (UR would be R)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing listing*

A Folha de São Paulo (S. Martí) review*
Diario de Pernambuco (J. Cavani) review* (V. Blanes) review*
NPR (P. Powers) review
The Hollywood Reporter (B. van Hoeij) review
Way Too Indie (C.J. Prince) review

Neon Bull (orig. Boi Neon) [2015] IMDb] [AC]*(written and directed by Gabriel Mascaro [IMDb] [AC]*) like the director's previous film August Winds (orig. Ventos de Agosto) [2014] (which played here at the Chicago International Film Festival) is about a social contract in Brazil between the nation and its poorer citizens/residents that _ought_ to disturb people.

The contract appears to be this: We won't do much for you.  In exchange, we will let you live lives essentially free of obligations toward others (or honestly toward God / "something" ANYTHING "Higher").  You will probably be poor, but we hope that you will be generally happy, so long as you don't burden yourselves with much thought about the value / meaning of your lives.  Your lives will be essentially like those of the animals: Here for a while, gone sometime after that.  Enjoy, as best you can, your stay...

I do think I know something of this mentality because in my life as a Servite Priest, I did visit the Servite Mission in Acre, Brazil several times, where this same "social contract" is lived-out day-to-day by the rural residents living in little hamlets clustered around little petrol-driven electrical generators spaced at about one kilometer intervals along the rivers of the region.  Those generators are turned-on by the residents for 1-2 hours each evening -- so that the women can watch their telenovelas -- and then presumably when an important soccer match would be played.

Our Servite priests would pass through the various hamlets on "desobriga missions" (for the "unburdening of obligations" -- to allow people to go to Confession, receive Communion, Baptize the recently born, Marry those who need to be Married, etc) at regular intervals so that pretty much every hamlet in this mission territory (about half the size of West Virginia -- 32,000 would be visited once every six months.

I remember describing to a cousin of mine the lives of the residents along those rivers -- Pretty much every 14 year old girl would already be (more or less) married and with a child.  Yet pretty much by then, 14-15 years of age, all that one really needed to know, one would already know: He how to fish / raise some corn / beans, she how to cook / tend house.  And it seemed to me that it was still "a more dignified life" living out-there along the rivers than _trying_ to move to the city and ending-up in a favela (slum) at the edge of town raising the same chickens in one's yard and looking (now harder) for a little plot of land to grow one's corn / beans and basic vegetables. -- to which my cousin responded: "But what a tragic waste of human potential."  Basically all those people living along those rivers (and in GABRIEL MASCARO'S FILMS) were being WAREHOUSED: "Left to live out lives without much meaning ... until they would simply die someday."

And so it is then with Mascaro's current film: Viewers follow a random truckload of Brazilian rodeo-workers through the "cow country" of Pernambuco, Brazil:

There's Iremar (played by Juliano Cazarré [IMDb] [AC]*) a stable-hand, who keeps the rodeo's bulls lined-up, in the proper pens at the proper time.  The main competition apparently in the rodeo is simply for a horse mounted rodeo wrangler to simply "take down a running bull by pulling its tail ..."  Iremar's job was simply having those bulls lined-up so that they'd be released, one per rodeo wrangler, at their proper time.  In off hours though, Iremar tinkers around as something of a fashion designer, drawing fairly exotic, form-fitting clothes onto pictures of nude models in porn magazines, and then as he gets the cloth and other materials, he actually sews said clothes for his muse ...

Galega (played by Maeve Jenkins [IMDb] [AC]*) who serves as the group's truck-driver by day, and as something of an exotic dancer (often wearing Iremar's creations) at night.  She has a pubescent girl ...

Cacá (played by Alyne Santana [IMDb] [AC]*) who's become old enough to start "rolling her eyes" at some of her mother's not particularly purpose-filled behavior, but remains still "enough of a kid" to still believe that "all would be fine" if she just "had her own little horse."

Both Iremar and Galega "get distracted' by quite random MOTAS that they meet along their quite random travelings through Pernambuco "cow country."

Now NO ONE is desperately unhappy in this film ... but _more_ than in regards of Mascaro's previous film August Winds (orig. Ventos de Agosto) [2014], ONE CAN NOT BUT WONDER _HERE_ (in the current one) if ALL OF THE CHARACTERS are basically IN A KIND OF PRISON ... FOR "LIFE" ... waiting to just, one day, die.

It's a vision that ought to ... disturb.

Is Life for MANY basically "merda" coming from a "Neon Bull" ...?

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** To load Websites from South, East and Eurasia in a timely fashion, installation of ad-blocking software is often required.

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