Mango Yellow (Amarelo Manga/Brazil)
Sound: C+ Extras: C+ Film: B-
On a recent trip, I was speaking with a foreign student
who was going to Brazil and was trying to explain where and what it was to
three young girls who like most underage American youth are culturally in the
dark about other countries. With no
film or even TV show immediately coming to mind that they would know, all I
could dig up was the 1979 James Bond film Moonraker. Well, they did not like or care about Bond,
so I might as well have said Central Station, while the male student
said it really did not show much of the country anyhow. That is why The Global Film Initiative is so
important. So few films are made in
certain countries and only a small fraction gets imported. In association with First Run Features,
Claudio Assis’ 2002 film Mango Yellow has arrived in the states.
Even beyond the amazing footage in Ron Fricke’s Baraka
(1992, reviewed elsewhere on this site), we see the poverty stricken side of
Brazil (beyond also a metaphor in a Terry Gilliam masterwork) in the people who
live and barely survive there. Daisy
(Leona Cavalli) wakes up nude, throws on a dress and opens the doors to the
diner she works at. It is also the
opening of the film and an opening of letting in all the darkness and awfulness
of living a tough life in this country, signified by the homeless man sleeping
outside the first door opened. We also
meet the flamboyantly gay Dunga (Matheus Nachtergaele), which borders on
stereotype and is a source of shaky comic relief, especially when set against a
sick man who likes to shoot dead corpses and the way meat is mishandled
throughout the film.
The meat is seen in a disturbing slaughterhouse, in a more
disturbing scene of a live animal butchered for its meat, in the fact that the
meat is never kept at a proper temperature and that it stands for a the abuse
the people in the story suffer from.
This is the feature film debut of Assis, who pulls off a decent film
here, as Brazil itself in a political transition. Maybe this film is just reflecting that, and Hilton Lacerda’s
screenplay is never false.
The letterboxed 2.35 X 1 image is not good in details, but
not outright soft either, yet the most annoying thing is that the nice
subtitles sadly spilling into the bottom black bar, which means a zoom in on 16
X 9 playback monitors and projectors.
Too bad, because this was shot on Kodak film and Walter Carvalho knows
how to use the scope frame. The Dolby
Digital 2.0 Stereo has no serious surround information, but plays back well
enough, while Lucio Maia’s score fits well.
Extras include text on all the 2004 films in the Global Film Initiative,
a trailer for all the films for the 2005 program, text on the director, and an
interview with film scholar Richard Pena (10:50) that puts it all into
perspective. Though not a masterwork, Mango
Yellow is an interesting work worth your time.
- Nicholas Sheffo