Aquarius (2016, Kleber Mendonça Filho)

Turned this off halfway through and continued a couple days later, but I thought about abandoning the movie because I knew how it was going to end up, and wasn’t relishing the idea. We’re following Clara (Sonia Braga of Moon Over Parador, Kiss of the Spider Woman) who lives in a nice seaside condo, has lived there forever, full of memories and good records, hanging out with friends and family. But the building has new ownership, and every tenant except Clara has sold and moved out, and the realty company is starting to act funny, and vague threats are being floated by the underhanded old developer Geraldo and his young project head (and grandson) Diego. As vibrant and well-liked a person as she is, Clara is not gonna be able to stand up to a determined developer with a seaside property – we’ve got another Leviathan on our hands. So imagine my surprise.

Flashbacks to 1980, starting with the birthday of an aunt, establishing Clara as a cancer survivor and a Queen fan, back when her husband was alive – now in her sixties minus the husband and one breast, the movie still manages to have plenty of sex scenes. Anyway, she talks to people who work with the development company, gets help from her lifeguard friend Roberval (Irandhir Santos, star of Neighbouring Sounds), digs up a scandal with help from her lawyer, finds the termite nest they’ve planted in her building and brings it, along with the paperwork/evidence, to their office, suddenly reminding me that the Cinema Scope article on this movie was titled “Termite Art.”

Barry Lyndon:

“People like you who took a business course but lack basic human decency, who have no character … no, I mean, you do have character; your character is money. Therefore, honey, you have no character.” It’s like a superhero movie, establishing a lead character on the side of good, gradually introducing her support team, then uniting against evil at the end.

With Roberval in the termite apartments:

Strike Team: niece/lawyer, nephew, brother

R. Koehler:

All of his narrative films, short or long, entail examinations of life in various urban spaces in his beloved coastal city of Recife, in the northern Brazilian state of Pernambuco. These spaces, sometimes simply street corners, sometimes — as in his extraordinary 2012 feature debut, Neighboring Sounds — city blocks, develop into zones of competing sources of power through the course of patiently crafted narratives … Even more than in Neighboring Sounds, Aquarius contains a keen sense of history, and how the fundamental questions of identity and personal physical space can tie together memory and objects, music and the body, and how family itself is a living embodiment of history.