Brazil (1985)


Behold the fascist country's true colors.

What more can be said about Brazil that hasn’t already been said? Not a lot, which makes this review pointless, but I do not need a point to ramble on about movies, merely the passion of film to guide me and the self serving desire to give my resume slightly more weight. At least my review will be better than the Nostalgia Critic’s. OH SNAP. I went there. I hope now that he will contact me and offer me a spot in his next video, doing some poorly scripted fight scene where we pretend to hate each other.

I first saw Brazil the day before I saw Inception on opening day. I wanted to see Brazil first for two reasons: 1) It was on my to-watch list. 2) Some asshole on an internet message board claimed that the previews for Inception looked like a rip off of Brazil meets Dark City. Curious, I decided to see Brazil to “prepare” myself for Christopher Nolan‘s cinematic wetdream. It turns out, that asshole had no idea what he was talking about. The only thing they have in common is that there are dreams in both of them. Aren’t all movies the ritual sharing of dreams? I like to think so. Brazil is nothing like Inception and Inception is nothing like Brazil.

Directed by comedic auteur Terry Gilliam, the mastermind behind such farces as Monty Python, 12 Monkeys, and the greatest drug movie of all time Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, Brazil is either the worst movie of all time or the greatest. This movie is a clusterfuck. A glorious clusterfuck that leaves the drunken audience confused and slinging feces at each other. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy British Redcoats brandishing 9mm semi automatic pistols. It brings joy to my heart to see disparate objects displaced from their native realities and married in such a way as presented by the insanity of this movie. That sentence sounded so pretentious that it makes me want to cut myself.

So what happens in Brazil? Well, as I understand it, an innocent man is marked for death when a bumbling government employee kills a fly. The dead fly sets in motion a chain of events that can only be described as psuedo outlandish. Sam Lowry, played by 18th century part time Governor of pirates Jonathan Pryce, mild mannered bureaucrat, attempts to fix the problem by asking the wife of the dead innocent man to sign a paper. At the same time, he dreams of being a psychedelic knight in shining armor who flies through the sky and battles giant samurai robots and saves damsels in distress.

brazil psychedelic knight

Acid is a helluva drug.

Eventually, he meets violent gangster Robert De Niro, playing the role of a rogue plumber named Harry Tuttle who bravely makes house calls without signing the forms. This is a big deal, because in totalitarian regimes, the highest form of revolution is engaging in home improvement without the proper paperwork. Eventually Sam Lowry meets a young woman who looks like the one from his dreams, and he takes advantage of his new job to find out all he can from her. After a lot of persistence, he convinces her to fall in love with him, and soon enough, they join the resistance along with Robert De Niro and a whole bunch of crazy and surreal things happen that are hard to understand.

That outspoken goofball Roger Ebert didn’t understand what happened either, and for that he gives it a negative review. Oh Roger, when are you going to stop being such a silly goose? I may not understand it, but I don’t think that disqualifies it from being a great 2 and a half hours to sit through. It has a whole host of other things to like about it. Having a coherent plot is not necessary to make an awesome film going experience. Film is a visual medium after all. Visuals matter more than clearly defined ideas. That is a requirement reserved for literature.

brazil face stretch

Fuck Botox!

So Sam and his girlfriend are caught by the feds. His girlfriend is shot and he is accused of being an enemy of the state. The film ends in a giant, industrial, cavernous silo or something, and it just looks amazing. Wikipedia informs me that it’s the interior of a power station cooling tower. Wicked awesome! Sam Lowry experiences a perpetual acid trip as he sits catatonic, being tortured and probed by government employees in white lab coats. You could call it a downer ending, but the energetic craziness of the rest of the film leaves you feeling anything but down when it’s all over.

Let’s talk about the set design… London in Brazil makes Gotham in Batman look like … Gotham in The Dark Knight. Just kinda normal. Like, it just looks like the city of Chicago normal. I almost get the sense that Anton Furst drew inspiration from this totally out of control London for designing his Gotham City in the original ’89 version of Batman. I felt an odd familiarity between the two.

The production design is so genius that I almost shit my pants over how well crafted and believable everything appeared.
It’s some of the most competent work I’ve ever seen. Every shot in this movie is a work of art. I would like to point to the bathroom interior where Sam Lowry helps some old guy take a piss. It’s all shiny and gold and exotic, I just want to have sex with the walls as I watch it. No, I do not have a fetish for gold plated walls, but I do not leave out the possibility of experimentation in the future. Only if Terry Gilliam allows it!

Full of surreal and dream like images, it’s easy to see why Brazil has become a cult classic. It’s fucked up, it’s great on the eyes, it’s full of shit, and it’s a work of art. I recommend it to anybody who hates the government, is ashamed to be an American, and loves the fuck out of V for Vendetta. Also, I highly recommend it to the Nostalgia Critic. I think he would get a kick out of it.

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