Quim tells us a story of "how it used to be." He lived in the sticks with his dog and prize goat. This brutish life in the boondocks wasn't enough for him and he decides to go out into the world in search of two dreams: to find a good young wife to take care of him and to eat beef. It's the second wish that is his true obsession. In his wanderings, Quim arrives at the house of Totó, whose daughter Carula is having an argument with her statue of St. Anthony: the saint isn't working hard enough to find her a good husband. Soon Quim discovers that the girl's father supposedly has an ox that he's been saving for his daughter's wedding. Might this be the moment for Quim to satisfy his two greatest desires? This "caipira" comedy, mostly light-hearted, which plays on Brazilian stereotypes of country life, was enormously popular at home and abroad and garnered all the major prizes at the annual Gramado Festival of Brazilian and Latin-American Film. In his first feature film, director André Klotzel uses a group of the country's best actors and a folktale approach to tell a story where everyday reality is, at best, merely a backdrop.
Featuring folktale characters like the "curupira," whose feet are on backwards, or a she-devil trickster whom Quim meets at the crossroads at midnight, the movie--with its brilliant colors and fantastic story-telling style--celebrates the imagination and traditions of rural Brazil and continues a long tradition of authentically Brazilian "hill-billy" literature, drama, and film. But the film goes beyond the re-telling of well-known legends to take on a serious social commentary: towards the end of the film, our hero--still looking for that elusive steak--finds his way by train to São Paulo. Thanks to a riot, he joins looters in a supermarket and is able to steal a roast of beef. The final scenes of the film, shot in a more documentary style, show Quim and Carula having a barbecue at their home in the poor industrial suburbs of São Paulo. In retrospect, we understand both the teller and the tale.
That Damned Meat (A Marvada Carne, BRA, 1986) dir. Andre Klotzel
BRAFFTV and Toronto Public Library
Palmerston Library (506 Palmerston Ave, Toronto)
September 20, 6 p.m.