Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Central Station

Aka Central do Brasil
Walter Salles, 1998, Brazil (9.1*)
Best Foreign Film (BAA)
This is another minor masterpiece from director Salles, a Brazilian from Rio who directed the award-winning film of Che’s continental bike trip The Motorcycle Diaries. The film begins at the title location, with a letter writer, brilliantly portrayed by Fernanda Montenegro who garnered an Oscar nomination for best actress, writing letters for the illiterate people who couldn’t do it for themselves. She is twice visited by a woman and her son, who is trying to let her ex-husband know that the boy would like to visit his estanged dad and get to know him. Eventually we find that retired teacher Montenegro is so poor that she censors out the ‘hopeless’ letters and only mails those with some hope of a better life. Unfortunately, the boy’s mother is killed by a bus just outside the train station on their second visit, and the real story begins. Seeing that the boy has no one else, she takes it on herself to take him to his father in Bom Jesus, thousands of kilometers away.

Salles has crafted another beautifully inspiring road film, in this case we witness gradual tranformations in both major characters. We also see an isolated part of Brazil where religion has reached a near mystical, fanatical, and transcendental level, preoccupying the lives of rural peasants. Montenegro’s performance is close to astonishing, rarely has any actress successfully portrayed the range of emotion and character change so subtly or effectively. This film, along with other Salles films, won a host of awards internationally and deserved even more. Oscar-nominated for best foreign film, lost to Benigni's Life Is Beautiful. Winner of the Golden Globe and the BAFTA for Best Foreign Language film, I second their votes.

Overall, 31 international nominations and 9 awards, the awards page at IMDB: Central Station awards page


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Artist, photographer, composer, author, blogger, metaphysician, herbalist

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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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