Feast of Film II

The Miami International Film Festival, part two

Dogvillescreens at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, February 7, at the Gusman.

The Man Who Copied

The success of last year's critically acclaimed City of Godsuddenly spurred fans to turn their attention to Brazilian cinema. It also raised the bar of expectations for more cinematic feats, and who knows, maybe even a movement out of that land that brought us Sonia Braga. But while the film's director, Fernando Meirelles, made off for Hollywood on the crest of his success, the state of Brazilian film seems to be as healthy as ever with several strong recent releases.

One of those is Jorge Furtado's directorial debut in The Man Who Copied (O Homem Que Copiava), set in a busy working-class neighborhood in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre. The film opens with young, mild-mannered Andre (Lazaro Ramos) at a supermarket checkout, choosing which item to take off his bill to keep the total under the $11.50 he has in his pocket. The next scene shows him burning a pile of Brazilian $50 bank notes, intimations of things to come.

But when the film continues in a shop with Andre at the copy machine, making copies all day, you wonder if this is the Brazilian man who wasn't there. Out of boredom, he reads snippets of what he copies, like "Shakespeare and Cervantes died on the same day: 23rd of April, 1616. They never even met." At night in an apartment he shares with his mother, Andre sits in his room drawing a cartoon he created called One-Eyed Zack and Granny Doctrine. And when he's not doing that, he's spying on his neighbors through binoculars, especially the comely Silvia (Leandra Leal), which develops into a crush and "chance" meetings.

It's all fairly tame stuff, since Andre comes off as harmless and shy, but before you (or Andre) know it, you're pulled into the middle of an intriguing story that includes printing money on a new color copier that arrives at the shop. It's all to get $38, to impress Silvia in a very roundabout way, since being broke and a "photocopier operator" doesn't take him far with the ladies. And as his affections grow, so do his larcenous ambitions.

The film incorporates elements of French cinema like Amelie, with Andre spending a good chunk of the film narrating the story and his life to quick and imaginative shots that make use of his daydreams and cartoons. But it also owes a lot to the films of Guy Ritchie such as Snatch, with its complicated plot of innocents in over their heads. While the story is a little too incredible at times, The Man Who Copied has more heart and charm than those other films because of the stellar acting; the characters are all very believable, including a supporting performance by Andre's friend Cardoso (Pedro Cardoso) that's Roberto Benigni without the caffeine. Like a wagon full of kids pushed downhill, The Man Who Copied is full of surprises and gains a wobbly, fun momentum with each turn. It should also keep the Brazilian cineastes happy for another year. -- John Anderson

The Man Who Copied screens at 9:15 p.m. on Thursday, February 5, at the Regal and at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 7, at the Tower Theatre, 1508 SW 8th St.

Raging Heart

Forget Sergio Leone. Director Gianluca Sodaro puts the cheese on the spaghetti Western. Raging Heart is a camp bonanza.

Does the plot even matter? There's super-bad tough guy Boe (Francesco Sframeli), who is made a cuckold (horns and all) by his beautiful wife (a sultry Barbara Rizzo) and wreaks revenge upon his entire town. Raging Heart may be a one-trick pony, but it's a good trick and a wild ride. The over-the-top violence and deliberately kitsch performances make the film a riot from beginning to end. -- Celeste Fraser Delgado

Raging Heart screens at 11:00 p.m. on Friday, February 6, and at 10:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 7, at the Regal.

Take My Eyes

It's hard to fault Take My Eyes for subject matter. The extensive treatment of violence against women in both fiction films and documentaries from around the world in this festival alone suggests that it is far from being exhausted. Yet the measured pace and apparently foregone conclusions of this Spanish-made film seem more to rehash the topic than to raise new insights or excite new responses. While better than such low points in the genre as the Jennifer Lopez vehicle Enough, Take My Eyes offers nothing like the bracing electricity of the New Zealand masterpiece Once Were Warriors.

Laia Marull is convincing as the battered wife who, despite it all, still loves her husband. Luis Tosar delivers a solid performance, whose desperate need for affirmation from his wife is expressed in equal parts sensuality and brutality. The movie's strength is in conveying the complexities of these characters as they love and fear each other. The most interesting moments are when the husband, eager to convince his wife to move back home, begins to see a therapist about his violent behavior; he participates in group sessions with a collection of grumpy old men who have a lifetime of experience in beating their wives. The film, like the husband, abandons this development too quickly. While that may be realistic, Take My Eyes switches course just when things were getting interesting. -- Celeste Fraser Delgado

Take My Eyes screens at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, February 6, at the Gusman.

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