December 20, 1985 [Brazil]

[scroll down for a little music to read by--the Editor]

Where is Brazil? From the bureaucrat-hero's veranda, the buildings swooping in diagonal shadows as De Niro's rogue duct-man sails on his tether, it looks like Wil Eisner's cityscapes in The Spirit, cold and haunted, with secrets in every little yellow square peppered on the leaning blank walls.

At work, Jonathan Pryce's Sam Lowry (a Terry Gilliam fool-your-friends jumping spider if there ever was one, animated stammer in every gangly limb) dives into the past, pneumatic tubes conveying space-age missives, tinny Westerns blazing intermittently on old-timey TVs with magnifiers, the paper flying nowhere--or wrongwise, Orwell's organized chaos.

But this is a Terry Gilliam movie, so if you want to get to the real world you have to dream, as Lowry does, Maxfield Parrish golden clouds rising in soft focus as he rides the sky--or stomps through endless streets, confronting Samurai-terrorists--his efforts to assert quiet strength and sexy rescue bound and gagged as Michael Palin draws on every bad Monty Python impulse to grind things down into sausages, as efficient and Mad as Ian Holm's Kurtzmann, founder of the Usual Gang of Idiots, but evil.

It's a beautiful, hilarious, horrible Brazil--but that tune is still catchy: I can hear it above the forced laughter of the powerful and doomed--who themselves are plugging their ears while Buttles and Tuttles creak behind their leather gags.


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