By Roger Costa
THE PINK CLOUD
Besides being the reflection of life itself through images in movement, Cinema has always had the power to predict or influence the future, either in social/political events, shaping behaviors or even accidentally announcing some natural catastrophes. Written in 17 and shot in 19, this Brazilian dramatic sci-fi depicts a much relatable story to our times: the feeling of the unknown, the harms of a toxic-killer virus affecting humanity and causing the inevitable lockdown and social isolation.
Incredibly timely and a hit at Sundance, director Iuli Gerbase’s feature length debut follows the emotional transformations of two strangers as they become stranded during a lockdown, forced to live together and learn of each other, while studying methods to survive the murderous climate. They meet one night, sleep together and are surprised in the morning with the announcements that everyone should lock their doors and windows and remain indoors. There is a pink cloud hanging outside ready to kill anyone that comes closer. As time progresses, they experience the essentials of living while locked up on their own individual worlds. Superbly performed, filled with inventiveness and a great sense of humor, Gerbase crafts a powerful critique to human behavior, global warming, the advantages capitalism take over us during economical crisis (prices go up, and deliveries are extra charged) and the sacrifices one must go through in order to achieve freedom.
(Blue Fox Entertainment. 1/14. Quad Cinema NYC.)
Life is made of relationships, small pieces of love and commitment expressed through family, friends and work. Most of the time, to maintain harmony among them all is a hard task, being necessary a constant re-evaluation of tolerance and value. In special occasions it is important to embrace a second chance and ascend from obscurity. A chef traversing a depressive moment, and a mysterious woman willing to be his culinary apprentice will experience just that. He has just been fired from his job title as a master chef for a bohemian aristocrat and goes back to his remote village seeking a new beginning. Traumatized by the circumstances that led him there, he ignores his culinary talents, until the arrival of the woman, insisting to be lectured by him. The situation is just what they need, a valve of escape to forget the past, and build a new future. A feast for the eyes and the stomach, this gastronomic tale is a highly convincing production, exuberantly conceived with sensibility and accuracy. Director Eric Besnard’s delicate and perceptive romantic drama is set amongst the excitement of the French Revolution, depicting the invention of the restaurant business in the country, and brings a lovely and relatable message about second chances and never quitting on hope. As the pair of unlikely lovers/kitchen partners grapples to achieve recognition and dignity, the film grabs the audience by the heart, creating an affecting and very entertaining atmosphere.
(Samuel Goldwyn Films. 1/14. Laemmle Town Center 5, LA.)
THE WHALER BOY
A prostitute arrives at a lonely fisherman’s house, where she serves as an entertainment object for him, and other kids longing for attention and companionship. She dances with the older man, plays, flirts and optimistically reads the younger kids’ hands, and seduces one particular teen, luring him to the privacy of a room. It’s a moment of extreme emotional intensity beyond its precocious eroticism. While the liberal woman seems to feed her own guilty pleasures, the scene demonstrates the concretization of a boy’s dream being blocked by a mental disorder associated with the freedom of virtual access. He had been dreaming about this moment for a while, and when he is offered the opportunity, having her breasts in his hands, and so on, he somehow refuses to consummate the initiations of the wonders of sexuality, as his mind is stranded with the idea of loving an online sex-worker from Detroit. He runs back home, just to log on into the service to confess to his “online girlfriend” that he hasn’t touched the girl, he couldn’t dare to cheat on her. All these scenarios are loaded with such sadness, hopelessness and melancholy, as the film depicts the sorrowful loneliness of the Inuit community living isolated in a remote, cold island, where they cultivate their traditions, as well as the horrifying way of surviving: hunting and killing whales (one scene in particular is very hard to watch). There’s not much to expect for the future, and especially the young ones are dreaming of finding love.
Winner of the Venice Days Director’s Award at Venice, Russian writer-director Philipp Yuryev demonstrates lots of potential with the material, extracting powerful performances from the entire cast and conceiving an impressive coming of age tale centered on loneliness and on the pursuit of a better life in America. Through the story of the conflicted teen, Yuryev scores a masterful portrait of this generation’s self-isolation on the internet and the risks of manufactured obsessions. The grey cinematography is utterly exuberant, capturing the emptiness and cold atmosphere with rich details, while the storyline keeps it intriguing and curious with its unique depiction of such a boy and his culture, and eventually journey.
Observational and thought-provoking, it is a stunning and chilling coming of age tale, very touching and increasingly suspenseful.
(Film Movement. 1/14. In Virtual Cinemas and On Demand.)