Montreal World Film Festival is a yearly celebration of the best cinema produced all around the planet. It is a wonderful way to discover different cultures, and the different ways to tell stories.
I like movies based on real events, and both three movies I watched yesterday were. This kind of films makes me feel like I am learning something as I enjoy my watch. And I did go to bed wiser yesterday!
I thought I’d write a few words about them. To remember all three, and perhaps tickle your curiosity. Personally, I think all three are worth checking out, but my favorite was “Dying to Survive” followed by “The Two Brothers” and last but still very entertaining, “Curtiz”.
The Two Brothers (Os dos irmãos)
In a small rural village of Portugal, a judge and two lawyers hold the trial of Andre. The man is accused of having killed his younger brother. The young man had gotten married in his village, before leaving his wife to his parents’ care while going to work for three years in Lisbon. After receiving a letter from his father, telling him that his younger brother had an affair with his wife, covering the whole family with shame, Andre comes home to settle things out. As the trial goes on, flash backs show how the whole village slowly pressured a man not seeking revenge, to plunge into the need to shed blood. As the story unfolds, the real question reveals; “Who really wanted the death of the victim?”
“The Two Brothers” portrays well the dark world of honour crimes. It is troubling to see how a whole village can stick together to make one man give them the fatal justice they all seek.
Unfortunately, I didn’t find any trailer. Sorry about that.
Dying to Survive (Wo bu shi yao)
A man struggling with his personal finances, gets involved into smuggling an Indian drug to Shanghai through his little natural medicine shop. An equivalent drug is legal in China, but sold at an exorbitant price that most patients can’t afford. With the help of four patients of the mysterious disease, Cheng sets a network to distribute the generic drug. Doing it for the cash at first, the man realizes he might get thrown to jail, and stops his black market. But seeing that flaws in the Chinese laws are killing innocent patients, he returns to his illegal actions, even paying to provide the poor with the widely needed medicine. Caught and sentenced to 5 years in prison, Cheng helped change China’s legislature, and bring life saving drugs to the population.
This movie brings up a moral dilemma. On one side, Cheng who knows he is working illegaly, but for the sake of helping the poor. On the other, the big pharmaceutical companies, working righteously by China’s laws, but ripping off some of the most vulnerable, leaving a lot of them to die. The beautifully told comedy/drama tale of a a man who helped change the laws.
A peek in the life of the Hungarian movie maker, Michael Curtiz. In 1941, Curtiz is directing the making of Casablanca, when the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor. Political authorities put pressure on Curtiz into sneeking some propagand twist to the plot of the movie. The man is also struggling with relationships issues, since his daughter suddenly pops back into his life after 19 years of not being in touch. The dark world of the troubled director through the making of one of all time biggest classics.
Black and white movies are rare nowadays, and the choice to give the film oldish touch is very well thought. It was interesting to see how the government had an influence on Hollywood in times of war, and to learn about (as the director of “Curtiz” described him) the greatest director you’ve never heard of.