Whilst I reading about Brazil at the weekend, one thing I discovered is that their great modernist architect Oscar Niemeyor is still alive at the age of 101. Great modernist architect might be an oxymoron to some, but his buildings don't luck hideously ugly in the way that La Corbusier's creations do, from a distance at least Brasilia looks quite attractive.
Also on a Brazilian theme here is my top 5 Brazilian films (although I have only seen around 15 so this isn't exhaustive by any means and the dominence of crime related works probably reflects my tastes as much as Brazilian cinema):
5- Bus 174- a documentary about an infamous seige where a criminal took a bus and held the passengers hostage for days. The incompetence of the police and the horrendous background of the hostage taker are explored in detail. The use of actual footage of the seige makes it partularly gut wrenching to watch. When I first saw it I thought it made too many excuses for the criminal which is somewhat ironic given the next movie on my list by the same director.
4- Elite Squad- A film about Rio De Janeiro's elite paramilitary police unit, who are more of an urban warfare unit than a police squad. It has been criticised for glorifying or excusing police violence, it doesn't though, it puts the violence into context though by looking at the mayhem of the slums and the indulgence towards criminals of the intelligensia. The boasts of the Elite Squad narrator about the professionalism of the unit are undercut by what is actually depicted which a lot of the hostile critics seemed to miss.
3- Carandiru- A film based on a real life prison riot which ended up with over 100 prisoners being killed. It picks some characters and tells their stories from before they went to prison up to the time of the riot.
2- Central Station- A cynical middle aged woman who writes letters for illiterates for a living is forced to take a ten year old boy she doesn't know to his relatives hundreds of miles away after his mother is killed. I don't know if this would seem scmaltzy if it were in English, but it avoids that beartrap and is a great character driven film.
1- City of God- IMHO the best film in the last ten years, it is set in the Rio slum of the title and follows the rise and fall of it's most psychotic gangster from a very scary child to an even scarier adult through the eyes of the narrator.
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