The other day I was checking The Metrograph in NYC to see what was playing, and I noted an upcoming event that seriously excited me. One of my Top 100 movies would be playing soon, with the lead actor showing up and doing a Q&A. I rushed down that night to get my tickets, hoping it would not sell out before I got there. Luckily fate was on my side and I got two tickets in the balcony to the screening. Unfortunately The Metrograph does not exactly make their upcoming announcements in any particular discernible way. I would have expected to see this mentioned in their most recent email, but I did not. In fact, by the time I did get an email about this screening it was either sold out or close to sold out. I'm going to have to sign up for their twitter and facebook as well, though I do really hate both of those sites.
Obviously the movie I am talking about is Brazil, the cult classic that almost never was. For those of you that don't know, although the movie was made by an American movie company, there was a shift in power in the company and the new head did not like the movie. He refused to release it as is, and had it re-edited to his liking, to give it a less dark feel and a happier ending. He wanted the director, Terry Gilliam, to re-shoot some scenes and help with what he wanted, but Terry refused. In the Q&A we found out that the lead actor, Jonathan Pryce was also asked to help, but he also refused. The movie was finished and released in Europe, but almost a year went by while Terry fought with the studio. Finally the Los Angeles Film Critics Association screened it and gave it a best picture award, forcing the studio into releasing it.
While it by no means made a fortune, it was well reviewed and became a legitimate cult classic and has gone on to become loved by many people. Each year this film gathers more and more fans, and has been cited as an influence by many others. Although it was a hard battle, Terry did win it in the end, and felt vindicated by the reception the film received.
If anyone has ever read 1984 the plot of this film would be familiar to you. A simple guy who works for the government ends up becoming disillusioned by the bureaucracy and dishonesty of the job and his employers and decides to do something about it. When I love a film as much as this one, I have trouble going into plot too much as I feel part of the movie's charm is the journey, the discovery as you go along for the ride.
Needless to say, this is a dark film, but comedic nonetheless. The idiocy of the government is always something that is fun to poke at, as if you can't laugh at it you will just end up crying. Think of it as how it would be if Trump won the presidential election, we would all have to laugh a LOT to get through that! It is also a drama, a fantasy, a romance, and although it takes place in a time and space we do not live it, it feels like we could have been there if things had gone another way.
The film looks beautiful, the acting is top notch, the sets are amazing, the script is well written and this is the kind of movie you find yourself involved in, feeling like you are there with the characters. The music fits perfectly with the scenes, and all in all the movie feels like a distorted classic for all time.
There were a few high points of this screening. One, after I took my seat I saw Jonathan Pryce in the balcony, looking at the theater. To my delight, he stayed to watch his own film, which is rare for many actors and directors. Even better, he sat two seats away from me! Every once in a while I would look over at him while he was watching his young self on the screen. Two, the Q&A was awesome, he spoke a lot about the movie, his career, and how he ended up in Brazil. He touched on some of the controversy and other films he was in too. Thankfully there was only one question mentioning Game Of Thrones, and for that I was happy. Three, he signed one of The Metrograph movie programs for me, which was very nice of him. Four, I got a few pics of his after the movie (see below), and five, he even introduced the next movie, which he was also in, a wacky NYC comedy called Jumpin' Jack Flash starring Whoopie Goldberg. All in all an amazing night.
9 out of 10 stars for the movie, 10 out of 10 for the screening and Q&A.
Location : The Metrograph, theater 1, NYC
Date and time : Monday, July 25th, 2016 at 6:45 PM
Format :35mm print
Audience : Sold out, audience really enjoyed themselves