Friday, December 16, 2011

BRAZIL (1985)

We're All in it Together...
On the twenty-second Lynchian day of Christmas, we present Terry Gilliam's mind-bending Christmas movie set in a 1984-esque Orwellian nightmare Brazil (1985). The second Gilliam film to make our list—the first being 12 Monkeys (1995)—Brazil is a magnificently insane ride into a dystopian nightmare in which a clerical error can brand someone a terrorist and destroy that person's life. Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) is bureaucrat who catches one such mistake and attempts to correct it, only to find himself branded an enemy of the state, too, for his troubles. Everyone abandons him to his fate, even his best friend (Michael Palin) and plastic surgery obsessed mother (Katherine Helmond).
Brazil is magnetically charming and terrifying by turns as we live through Sam's dual existence, one fantasy and the other reality. And although the film shifts tones frequently between comforting and disconcerting, beautiful and disturbing, fanciful and bleak, Brazil is a sobering experience and an effective warning against the depersonalization of individuals in our society. When the most wanted terrorist turns out to be nothing more than a government plumber (Robert DeNiro) who went rogue in order to actually fix people's plumbing problems without filling out dozens of forms and crossing insurmountable layers of bureacratic red tape, we see the only unforgivable crime in a fascist state is attempting to fix the system. And in this respect, Brazil is a timeless cautionary tale that still resonates as strongly today as ever.

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