PRISON EPIC j COMEDY DRAMA
CARANDIRU ; WONDROUS OBLIVION
No doubt about it. Wondrous Oblivion is going to be compared to that smash Brit-hit. Billy Elliot. Like that film, Wondrous Oblivion sports a young protagonist. David Wiseman (Sam Smith), an oddball outsider, who. like his ballet-dancing forerunner, has an unusual hobby, in this case cricket. Like Billy Elliot, it has a socio- political historical backdrop — racism in the south of England in the 1960s And like Billy Elliot, it proves to be dramatically uplifting. But where the earlier film focused squarely upon its protagonist. writer-director Paul Morrison's film tells more than one individual's story, and keeps the plotting rooted in reality.
In the working-class terraces of south London. 1960. David loves cricket, but isn't any good at it. making him unpopular at school. His loving, but put-upon parents —
(15) 145min .000 , (PG) 106min O...
Memories of Carandiru prison in Sao Paulo workaholic retailer father Victor (Stanley Townsend) and shy young
Director Hector Babenco seems drawn to exploring lives behind bars: Kiss of the Spider Woman mother Ruth (Emily Woof) — aren't unfolded in a Latin American prison cell, Pixote was, in part, set in a Brazilian juvenile detention much help. Then. the West Indian centre, and his latest, Carandiru, takes place in the notorious and now demolished Sao Paolo Samuels family move in next door and correctional facility, where military police massacred 111 inmates in 1992. The most successful ﬁlm man of the house Dennis (Delroy ever at the Brazilian box office, the epic Carandiru is based on the memoirs of Dr Drauzio Varella, Lindo) erects a cricket net in the back who set up an AIDS prevention programme in the late 805 at the jail, which housed some 7,000 men garden. Before long he's taking (despite only having a capacity for less than half that number). lessons and making new friends.
It’s through the conduit of this calm, patient medical practitioner (Luiz Carlos Vasconcelos), who much to the chagrin of the listens to the stories of the prisoners, that we experience the world of Carandiru. There’s his xenophobic neighbours, who view the Highness (Ailton Graca), juggling a white wife and a black mistress, old-timer Chico, father of 18 ; Caribbeans with similar (though more children, and the transsexual Lady Di (Rodrigo Santoro), about to marry another inmate. There’s Black 1 scornful) suspicion than that Nigger (Ivan de Almeida), whose mediating efforts lead to him being diagnosed with ‘executive previously heaped upon the Jewish stress’, a hit-man Dagger, who is converted to evangelism, and the crack-addled Zico, who murders Wisemans. As the exuberant Samuels his childhood friend. Flashbacks show some of the events that brought them into this apocalyptic and the guarded Wisemans slowly get environment, even it these individuals may not be the most reliable of narrators, especially when it to know each other. the film's comes to the matter of their own guilt. dramatic focus splits between David's
Babenco and his writers weave together all these different strands into a memorable tapestry. The friendship with girl next door, Judy detained men are neither glamorised nor judged, but are presented as human beings, struggling to (Leonie Elliott) and a tentative maintain their spirits in this most despairing of environments. The fiesta-like atmosphere of visiting romance between Dennis and Ruth. day and the joy of a wedding are contrasted with the treatment of sex offenders (who literally never When these relationships peak, so too see the light of day) and the killings of those who transgress the code of respect. does racial hatred in the
Babenco’s ﬁlm is less visually ﬂashy than City of God, but it’s arguably more emotionally affecting, with neighbourhood.
the culminating massacre providing an impressively choreographed and wrenching ﬁnale. (Tom Dawson) I Selected release from Fri 76 Apr. See interview, page 29.
irresistible to the girls' perversity. Mao wants to bed her and so the queer outlaws steal a taxi and drag Marcia (not unWillingly) on a trip to the sea with a detour to the home of Aunt Blanca (Beatriz Thibaudin). Lenin's ageing
relative. It is here that the film’s rhythm changes once more where sex, love and friendship are played out within the four walls of Blanca's boarding house. Her two bohemian lodgers provide further flavour to the household's ~ »
eccentricity. Captaining the Wisemans
But it is Aunt Blanca's flamboyant Kidnap and KY Jelly elderly wisdom that plays the Such hatred, and the violence that narrative out and provides an follows, rings true in today's age of gag/gqéﬁigMOV'E cinematography, have attracted anchor to the plot '3 slightly asylum seekers and unsympathetic (TAN DE . . . . _ . . . . . REPENTE) valid comparisons With Jim meandering. final act. Sudden/y is a British government policy. But i (15) 92min .... Jarmusch's Stranger Than joyfully ambitious road mowe that Morrison doesn t hammer home this Paradise. takes you right back to the point. lnstead. he lets his neatly- Sudden/y is one such movie — Girl punk-hoods Mao (Carla beginning, as all journeys should. scripted, well-acted drama do its emotive, funny and menacing. Crespo) and Lenin (Veronica Mao and Lenin are two of the best work. And any film that boasts a Argentinean director Diego Hassan) are more than a little celluloid ‘boigirls' seen in a while soundtrack of ska and calypso tunes Lerman's debut delivers vibrant bored when they spot plump and twentysomething Lerman is a (plus a little Charles Mingus) gets my characters and unpredictable lingerie shop girl Marcia (Tatiana talent to watch. (Selina Robertson) vote. (Miles Fielder) situations, which, alongside a Saphir) on the streets of Buenos I GFT, Glasgow from Mon 26 I General release Fri 30 April. See tableau of black and white Aires. The provincial creature is Apr. interview, page 30.
32 THE LIST 15—29 Apr 2004