As an added attraction to last weekend's Latino Film Festival, the American Cinematheque is presenting the late Brazilian filmmaker Glauber Rocha's 1967 "Terre em Transe" ("Earth Entranced"), which has just been restored and newly subtitled, courtesy of Martin Scorsese.
The film screens Tuesday at 8 p.m. at the Directors Guild. Confounding, stupendous, sensual, poetic and altogether dazzling--and not a little perplexing at times for non-Brazilians--"Terre em Transe" is clearly a landmark in world cinema. Made as a protest against what Rocha called "the permanent state of madness" that afflicted Brazil in the wake of the 1964 military coup, it is angry, fevered political allegory of operatic, indeed Shakespearean grandeur.
"Terre em Transe" at times recalls passages of ennui in Antonioni films and scenes of decadence in Fellini's "La Dolce Vita." The film also has been compared, aptly, to "Citizen Kane" and the Shakespearean films of Orson Welles.
Told in flashback, it is set in a fictional country, symbolically named El Dorado, just as Viera (Jose Lewgoy), liberal governor of the province of Alecrim, is resigning to avoid civil war. He had been propelled to his position by a fiery poet-journalist Jardel Filho (Paulo Martins), a ruggedly handsome, blond, hairy-chested man, the kind of virile intellectual romanticized by Norman Mailer.
The protege of a pompous, rightist politician, wickedly named Porfirio Diaz (Paulo Autran), Filho must betray his patron, which he does through a TV documentary. Naivete, rather than hubris, is Filho's tragic flaw; his Communist lover Sara (Glauce Rocha), although encouraging him in his radical activism, remarks aptly: "Poetry and politics may be too much for one man."
Sometimes surreal, often exalted in the style of classic tragedy, "Terre em Transe," which not surprisingly was long-banned in Brazil, is a veritable torrent of images and words, much of them in the form of Filho's impassioned poems, with everything set to a potpourri of music including the samba as well as by Villa-Lobos.
Israel Film Fest Standout: The opening week of the eighth Israel Film Festival, which commences Wednesday at the Fine Arts, Beverly Hills, offers among its 11 features a film that has much of the hallucinatory intensity of "Terre em Transe." A good case could be made for Daniel Wachsmann's religious fable of the supernatural "The Appointed" (screening at 10 p.m. both on Thursday and Oct. 26) as being the most venturesome Israeli feature to date.
Tall, ascetic-looking Shuli Rand (who comes from a highly conservative religious background) stars as an itinerant magician, playing unglamorous nightclubs all over the country, having rejected his family's esteemed rabbinical tradition. Once he crosses paths with a mysterious beauty (Ronit Elkabetz) telepathic powers spark between them, ultimately bringing him back into the family tradition when he discovers he has developed healing powers.
Rand's Shmaya Ben-David, however, is a man plunged into deep conflict, a non-believer who regards his powers more of a curse than a gift. A ravishingly beautiful film, "The Appointed" is steeped in ancient Judaic ritual and generates a potent aura of mysticism.
A 1990 best foreign-language Oscar nominee, Uri Barbash's "One of Us" (Sunday at 3 p.m., followed by a discussion, and again Oct. 23 at 9:45 p.m.) is far more conventional, even doggedly so, but is highly involving and possesses considerable emotional impact.
It is the story of a firm friendship between two young soldiers, Yotam (Dan Toren) and Rapha (Alon Aboutboul), which is severely tested when Rapha returns to his former army base to investigate the brutal death of a Palestinian during an interrogation. Barbash, an uncompromising, fully comprehending moralist, also probed volatile Israeli-Palestinian relations in "Beyond the Walls," a 1984 Oscar nominee.
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