December 9, 2012

Brazil (1985)



"A bureaucrat in a retro-future world tries to correct an administrative error and himself becomes an enemy of the state."

It's not often that I don't know what to say about a movie, but having watched "Brazil" for the very first (and second) time today as part of my Christmas movies selection, I don't know how to categorise it. I'm not even sure if I enjoyed it or not. I think I did in some ways, but I still wanted to hate it all the way through.

"Brazil" is a surreal, sci-fi fantasy set in an Orwellian future which annoys me almost as much as "1984" itself. I've been watching a few sci-fi movies on the side lately and, since I'm a natural pattern finder, all these dystopian futures are the same from one movie to another. There's always a big, bad government and some neo-noir style lead character who turns out to be the unprepared hero of the piece amidst a load of technology which makes absolutely no sense.

I'll eventually review them, but I've also rewatched "The Matrix" (1999) and "Dark City" (1998) this weekend for absolutely no good reason at all other than entertainment. I'm not sure if that's the purpose behind them, but I keep feeling that I've seen the same story over and over ever since "Metropolis" (1927). It makes me glad that I'm not a real sci-fi fan because the clones and lack of originality in that genre even outweigh the current problems with horror.


In some ways "Brazil" is also a horror movie. There's some nice gore and definitely a nightmarish atmosphere to the arty-farty nonsense which makes it suitable for a horror fan, but there's comedy too which really messes things up. If it wasn't for the slapstick and satire, I think I would rate "Brazil" as a great film rather than a turd trying to be cleverer than it is. As I said, I don't really know how to classify it or rate it properly because it's not in a style that I'm used to.

The funny thing is that I got caught up in the story even though the plot is as simple as they come with a predictable twist at the end which I thought was going to be an even bigger cop-out. I honestly expected it to be another "it was all a dream" movie or to go into "brain in a vat" territory. I hate those "we don't know what reality is" pseudo-philosphical stories especially as the whole concept is "meta" in the first place. If I'm willing to suspend my disbelief to watch a movie, I don't want any more layers of unreality to throw me right back out of it. That's where bullshit like "Inception" (2010) failed to impress me.


All I can say for sure about "Brazil" is that it has a great cast of some bigger names than I thought I'd ever see in the same movie, and it pretty much wastes the talents of every single one of them. I'm surprised that they ever worked again. Robert DeNiro? Well, he's never been that good anyway, but Bob Hoskins playing Mario before actually playing Mario is just plain weird.

Kim Greist, who plays Jill (the girl of Jonathan Pryce's character's dreams), looks a lot better in a wig even though she does nothing for me, but I could say that about any of the actors and actresses in this. They all look the part, but their characters' reactions to each other and their lack of depth ruins everything they do. It's impossible to care about any of them except in short bursts and then it's like they never existed. I swear it's possible to forget about everyone in the movie within seconds of hearing their last line.

"Brazil" is all style over substance at the end of the day and not very memorable except for the way it looks. I get that it's a satire or parody of some kind, but it's not funny. If it's a satire of the sci-fi genre itself, it's kind of insulting.

Sci-fi masochists everywhere who want to enjoy a combined brain-numbing and ass-numbing can now appreciate the new Criterion Blu-ray of the 142 minute long "fifth and final" director's cut which was released last week. Allegedly, it's better than the Universal version and my DVD version, but I'm sure that's like saying eating hot vomit is worse than eating cold vomit. I never want to watch "Brazil" again.

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