peteg's blog - noise - movies - 2019 08 21 Brazil


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Second (or more) time around with this Terry Gilliam classic from 1985. It's all so very 1984, replete with totalitarian tropes that become more the lived experience by the year: domestic terrorism and the state's responses, the suspension of habeas corpus and detaining people without notification, the use of government databases to chase romantic partners (eternal, I'm sure), extreme kleptocratic nepotism, endless ducts, faulty heating and so forth. All this goes to show that the real bureaucrats and crony capitalists lack imagination. Then again the working-class Buttles live in what is now a palace, not a human filing cabinet or a concrete box in the sky. Gilliam has an actual bug confusing official identities and we get similar mistakes and more in our robustly electronic world.

There are loads of famous names in the cast, none particularly well used. Some of it is quite fun, with the odd awesome bit of dreamy cinematography. Things stall when the plot needs developing.

Janet Maslin got into it at the time. Roger Ebert not so much.