Newest Reviews
Days of the Bagnold Summer
Black Power Mix Tape 1967-1975, The
Apartment 1BR
Looking On the Bright Side
Take Me Somewhere Nice
Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn
Gentlemen Broncos
To the Stars
Lady Godiva Rides Again
Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ
Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, A
This is a Hijack
Loved One, The
Jumanji: The Next Level
Krabi 2562
Call of the Wild, The
Diary of a Country Priest
Sea Fever
Throw Down
Grudge, The
Green Man, The
Specialists, The
Romantic Comedy
Going Ape!
Infinite Football
Little Women
Camino Skies
Another Shore
Cry Havoc
Legend of the Stardust Brothers, The
Mystery Team
Westward the Women
Newest Articles
Who Watched The Watchmen?
The Golden Age of Colonic Irrigation: Monty Python Series 4 on Blu-ray
Lady of Pleasure: Lola Montes on Blu-ray
Take You to the Gay Bar: Funeral Parade of Roses on Blu-ray
Hit for Ms: Mark Cousins' Women Make Film on Blu-ray
Look Sinister: The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse on Blu-ray
Star Wars Triple Threat: The Tricky Third Prequel and Sequel
I Can See for Miles: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes on Blu-ray
Too Much Pressure: The Family Way on Blu-ray
The Alan Key: Alan Klein and What a Crazy World on Blu-ray
A Japanese Ghost Story: Kwaidan on Blu-ray
The Zu Gang: Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain on Blu-ray
Reality TV: The Year of the Sex Olympics on DVD
The Young and the Damned: They Live By Night on Blu-ray
Mind How You Go: The Best of COI on Blu-ray
Der Kommissar's in Town: Babylon Berlin Series 3 on DVD
The End of Civilisation as We Know It: The 50th Anniversary
The Whalebone Box: The Andrew Kotting Interview
Being Human: The Elephant Man on 4K UHD Blu-ray
It's! Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 3 on Blu-ray
Put the Boot In: Villain on Blu-ray
The Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 2: Vic Pratt Interview
All the Lonely People: Sunday Bloody Sunday on Blu-ray
Desperate Characters: Beat the Devil on Blu-ray
Chansons d'Amour: Alfie Darling on Blu-ray
  Ópera do Malandro At the Copa
Year: 1986
Director: Ruy Guerra
Stars: Edson Celulari, Cláudia Ohana, Elba Ramalho, Fábio Sabag, J.C. Violla, Wilson Grey, Maria Sílvia, Cláudia Jimenez, Andreia Dantas, Ilva Niño, Zenaide, Djenane Machado, Katia Bronstein, Lutero Luiz, Bernard Seygnoux
Genre: Musical, Comedy, Drama, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: This 1986 Brazilian musical has the look of a '40's big-studio musical, but as directed by Ray Guerra, better known to international audiences for his previous film Erendira it's also got more than a few idiosyncrasies, some wonderfully Hollywood, some Brechtian and some typically Brazilian. This movie is based on a stage-musical by Brazil's Chico Buarque, a famous composer, singer, poet and writer. He has also been referred to as a samba king, His samba is not the loud and energetic carnival samba, but samba canção or the lyric samba song - quite sophisticated , more lush and very melodic in style that lends itself perfectly to the demands of book musicals.

Setting this slice of lowlife in Rio at about the time of Pearl Harbor was an inspired decision, allowing director Guerra to pay homage for vintage Hollywood and invoking other classics such asCasablanca, even Cabaret with dozens of visual allusions to many others. Ópera do Malandro is a good nature romp that sizzles with its Latin rhythms and aspirations but tries to be too much of everything resulting in a film that doesn’t add up as much as the weight of its parts. But if you abandon your expectations of an orderly plot you will have a good time. The film is a vast, rambling, nostalgic expedition that celebrates of the considerable talents of author and composer Chico Buarque and choreographer Regina Miranda.

The story opens in Rio de Janeiro's bohemian district called the Lapa, where a stylish and popular, small-time thief and gambler, Max Overseas, finds himself way over his head when he becomes involved with Ludmila, the sharp, forward-thinking teenage daughter of industrialist (and fascist) Otto Strüdell. It all takes place during the time when Brazil was on the verge of deciding whether to support the Allies or the Nazis providing the story a backdrop of politics, nostalgia and light social commentary in a very similar way the Brecht did in The Three Penny Opera.

The two main protagonists Ludmila and Max represent the future , both with an obsession with the United States and its capitalism ideals, and on the opposite side we have the character of Otto Struddell (Ludmila‘s father) representing the fascists ideals. Sounds heavy for an entertainment that disguises itself as a light hearted romantic musical comedy? It certainly is, and that is precisely what defeats the complete success of this film. By focusing in so many political and social dilemmas and by not providing a strong center with the romance of Max and Ludmilla, the film feels distant at times and the story hard to follow.

Director Ruy Guerra is going for a frankly movie feel with his sets and decors. The characters are seen mostly by their surfaces, and they inhabit cheerfully phony Hollywood back-lot sets. The look is right for the movie's musical scenes, but not with the serious aspects of the film.

On the other hand, Malandro offers many wonderful and unique pleasures. The sexy choreography by world famous Regina Miranda is superb. With no submission to typical Anglo patterns, her work is more in tune with the popular and ballroom Brazilian dances. As in the opening number titled 'The Hood is the King of the Slums' in which a group of white suited hoodlums dance in formation on a moonlit street ; the unforgettable duet "I am His Woman" between Ludmilla and Margot disputing their claims to the malandro's affections, filmed from a birds eye point of view and the "The Wedding Tango" with Max's entire gang dressed in coat tails and top hats. Hundreds of dancers, 'samba passistas', acrobats and 'capoeira players' dance through the hands of Regina and the result is brilliant.

The performances range from adequate as in the case of Edson Celulari as Max Overseas, to spectacular as in the case of Claudia Ohana as Ludmilla, Fabio Sabag as Otto Struedel, Ney Latorraca as Tiger, the local chief of police and Elba Ramalho as Margot the prostitute. Also worth noting is J.C. Violla as Geni, the effeminate M.C. at the Copacabana, that owes a lot to Joel Grey’s interpretation in Cabaret.

Director Guerra provides some memorable set pieces as when Max Overseas delivers one of his musical soliloquies in a men’s room, while dancing past the row of urinals and mirrors; the bolero 'The Pain of Love' in which the prostitutes of the Copacabana convert Strudell’s latest girl from a homeless urchin to a working girl, wig and all; the climatic duet "You Who Are Part of Me" between Margot and Max with the background of an elegant pax deux between two dancers resembling the young versions of Max and Margo; and Ludmilla’s entrance in a train station, looking like Leslie Caron’s Gigi while singing 'Sentimental'.

As I said before, the musical numbers are worth the price of the ticket, but the movie doesn't provide us with fully fleshed out characters that we can truly relate to. So I guess we go to Malandro to enjoy the good parts such as the wonderful visual homage to old classic films, and wonder what this film it could have been if the creative team didn’t take themselves so seriously.

The film is available on DVD (for all regions) on www.dvdversatil.com.br
Reviewer: Pablo Vargas


This review has been viewed 4043 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
  Hannah Prosser
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot
  Rachel Franke
Paul Smith


Last Updated: