In continuing the gold mining for obscure films around the
world, learning about different cultures through their rich artistic
expressions, I’ve selected these 10 titles that deserve greater recognition.

1 – A Pál utcai fiúk (aka The Boys of Paul Street – 1969)

Based on the work of the Hungarian writer Ferenc Molnár,
this is one of those films that once seen, remains forever in the memory. Do
not be alarmed if in dreams, you find yourself struggling on Paul Street
alongside your childhood friends. Adapting the most famous Hungarian literary
work of all time to filmmaking should not have been easy, but director Zoltán
Fábri did this without appealing to exaggerated melodrama or extreme austerity,
as would be common in the Hollywood way of dealing with such issues.

The story recounts the battles of humble pre-teenagers in
Budapest in 1889, who defend a vacant lot (their playground) from the invasion
of a group of wealthy teenagers. The naive confrontation permeated by
“sand bombs” ends up leading to the same sad consequences of any war.
There is a hierarchy in the army of Paul Street, where the fragile and
hardworking soldier Nemecsek tries at all costs to prove his worth before the
brave general. From these situations comes a humor that easily takes us back to
the complex world of the child, because they do not fight for a few square
meters in a wasteland, they fight to gain freedom and for the right to fully
exercise their creativity.

As in all wars, there are betrayals and demonstrations of
value in the most extreme conditions. Both the book and the film make clear
their analogies and real intentions: to show that, contrary to what many people
think, childhood is as dense and conflicting as adulthood. “The Boys of
Paul Street” is a must-see movie.

2 – A Falta Que Nos Move (aka The Absence That Moves Us –

Five actors arrive at the house of the director of the film
to experience a cinematic experience. They are filmed uninterruptedly, while
continuing to follow scripts and scenes. Fiction and reality intertwine in the
midst of stories of a generation that has lived adrift and now faces an absence
that moves their actions.

The director: Christiane Jatahy. The actors: Pedro Brício,
Cristina Amadeo, Dani Fortes, Marina Vianna and Kiko Mascarenhas, realize the
dream of every actor, experiencing an incredibly stimulating experience. The
best way to watch this unknown brazilian masterpiece is to enter the house
together with the actors, without knowing the trick, so I will avoid commenting
too much about what happens. The greatest merit of the team was to have built a
product that does not lose value as revealed magic, only instigates even more,
leading us to try to understand that microcosm perfectly reflects the macro.
The shock of realizing that we are all full-time actors, following through the
acceptance of our frailties and frustrations, learning to deal with the
inexorable approach of the end. We are part of an experience, regardless of
whether we make it pleasurable or full of self-pity, we choose routes as the boundaries
of the road are revealed to us.

3 – Kahaani (same in english) – 2012

A young woman went from London to India, pregnant, to look
for her missing husband. The disappearance case is increasingly complex, and
the entry of government agents into their resolution shows that there is much
to unravel in this story. Surprising plot full of twists, directed by the
Indian Sujoy Ghosh, perfect to show those people who nurture prejudice with
movies that are not mainstream.

4 – Privilege (1967)

Steven Shorter (Paul Jones) is the greatest British music
star. Heard from everyone, from teenagers to old people, everyone in England
loves him, until his producers and entrepreneurs begin to use his popularity
for various economic projects. As Steven loses his individuality by turning
into a product, his icon position becomes useful to the more conservative
sections of UK society. The Church and the State begin to use it to combat
atheism and communism, making it an instrument of religious fundamentalism and
fascist nationalism.

Using the aesthetic of a documentary that coldly analyzes a
successful marketing case, English director Peter Watkins (after the excellent
documentary “The War Game”, 1965) elaborates along with the creator
of the story: Johnny Speight (who signs the screenplay with Norman Bogner), a
prophetic allegory set in the not-too-distant future, about a young singer who
loses his identity in exchange for an opinion-former status. The propaganda
machine uses it as a way to keep British teenagers from alienating them,
channeling and spreading their revolt into sadistic presentations, but
remaining ignorant of the political course of their country. Steven is
handcuffed and caged in front of his fans, who roar wildly and cry out for
their freedom. A circus of horror that brings us to the current scandals
involving the popular stars of the entertainment world. Those who enjoyed
“The Truman Show” (by Peter Weir) will find safe haven in this play.
Writer Andrew Niccol probably must have been inspired by Steve to comprise the
protagonist lived by Jim Carrey (even in the feminine influence in the third
act, essential for the change in the attitude of the protagonist).

There are many moments of genius, but I particularly find
the speech of the Rev. Jeremy Tate (Malcolm Rogers) brilliant, emulating the
mannerisms of Hitler, where he calls on his followers to conform. The image of
the young man would have to be shaped (due to mercantile interests) from a
rebel to an honorable Christian, so his producers organize an event on an
Olympic scale, to reinsert him transformed into society. The off-screen
narration tells us that while Steve ends the event with a song that incites
something transcendental, wheelchairs have been given to many sick citizens so
that the illusion of the miracle can take place. As he spread his hands, the
false paralytics rise and the commotion worsens, but the young man’s face could
not express greater discouragement. He moves in choreography, even his simplest
gestures are coordinated. Just a closer look at modern media phenomena, to
realize that this future imagined allegorically in the film came to fruition.
At some point in a meeting with the high dome that produces the young, a
stylist presents in a formal way the style that will be adopted in a few weeks
by the young British. The media manipulation continues even after Shorter
leaves the scene, because they continue to use their archive images, only
remove the sound. The product is still on sale because there is a buying

It is no wonder that this film was boycotted in its day (the
media claimed that the work was immoral, debauched of the church and defied the
authorities, encouraging juvenile delinquency) and that even today it is
practically unknown, even among the cinephiles.

5 – 7 Cajas (aka 7 Boxes – 2012)

As I always say, cinema needs only good ideas. The low
budget, the absence of a national industry, nothing is excuse for the lack of
creativity. And it is precisely this lesson that the Paraguayan writers and
directors Juan Carlos Maneglia and Tana Schembori deliver with this thriller,
which brings references ranging from the German “Run, Lola, Run” to
Danny Boyle’s camera work, composing an authentic portrait of poverty of
characters who are the organs responsible for the chaotic life of a popular
market in Asunción.

The protagonist, lived competently by the young Celso
Franco, dreams of escapism transmitted by television entertainment, tool shown
as efficient builder of desires. He was only interested in acquiring a
cellphone because of the filming feature. When faced with his own projected
image on those magical canvases, a leitmotiv that repeats itself with
variations a few times during the film, the poor boy finds some hope in that
momentary and illusive existence, a possibility of escaping from his sad
everyday life. To get the money he needs to buy the cell phone, he accepts an
enigmatic service proposal: quickly transport seven sealed boxes of wood,
unknown content, to a destination he will only discover on the way. The less
you know about the plot, the better the experience. As a negative point in the
script, but forgivable in the context of the work, an excessive use of
coincidences. For example: an unnecessary scene that is inserted in the first
act only as a way of showing that an officer X flirts with a character, only so
that in the second act this same policeman, among the several that could be
present in the place, served as a facilitator in the resolution of a narrative

Although the project surprises in the quality of the
suspense that establishes, what really elevates it to a higher level when
compared to similar ones is the perfect use of the dynamism in the mission of
the boy in the classic style of the American action films, with the inclusion
of several elements with conflicting interests and cameras that traverse
beneath tables in exciting pursuits like a “Hitchcockian” McGuffin,
while the true moral tale involves the subplot of a pregnant young woman who is
about to give birth. The same woman who is established in the first few minutes
as someone who desperately tries to sell the cell phone that becomes the object
of desire of the protagonist. The outcome of the narrative arc of the woman
will contrast sharply with that of the boy, making clear the intention of the
script, a message much more perennial than any convention of its kind. We can
be fascinated by the cameras that follow, in POV, the wheelbarrows of the
wheelbarrows in action-plans that do not leave anything to be done for those
already established industries, also merit of the photographer Richard Careaga,
but it is the silent attitudes that will remain in the minds of the public,
several hours after the session.

6 – Utvandrarna (aka The Emigrants – 1971)

A simple and powerful story set in the nineteenth century,
the journey of a poor Swedish family who decides to emigrate to America,
leaving behind a people controlled by religious hypocrisy. The script, adapted
from the four novels of Vilhelm Moberg, avoids the traditional structure based
on narrative arches, demands the patience of the spectator, makes magnificent
use of silence, but the reward is immediate.

The couple Kristina and Karl Oskar, impeccable Liv Ullmann
and Max von Sydow, face a long and devastating sea voyage, high point of
“The Emigrants”, the real possibility of death prowling every new
morning, lice infestation, hunger, despair and depression , the hope symbolized
by the new world being destroyed by the realization that they will not be
received with open arms, there is no sense of fraternal community in this land
of opportunity worked without the mythical vision usually sold by Hollywood.
The most interesting aspect, the way the characters project a paradisiacal
image of America, seeking a kind of redemption for their lives, until they are
surprised by the reality clash. The challenge for the survivors was just
beginning. Ulrika, played by jazz singer Monica Zetterlund, is humiliated by
being called a prostitute, the cause of the infestation, but she proves that
she is not to blame. some already accustomed to being slandered by those who
consider themselves superior. In metaphor, Kristina, with the mentality limited
by the dogmas of her traditions, is carrying to the new reality the lower
prejudices, practicing the judgment inadvisable by Jesus and encouraged by the
dignitaries who speak in his name, infecting the expectations of a new

7 – 35 Rhums (aka 35 Shots of Rum – 2008)

The widow Lionel (Alex Descas) lives in a housing complex
with his daughter, Josephine (Mati Diop), with whom he has strong ties to have
raised her alone. While Lionel attracts the attention of a middle-aged woman, a
taxi driver who begins to walk around the neighborhood engages with Josephine
and they begin to leave. When Josephine’s boyfriend accepts a job abroad and
moves in, leaving the girl alone, Lionel realizes that the daughter is becoming
independent and that it may be time for them to confront their past. The
greatest film of the french director Claire Denis. Beautiful homage to the work
of Yasujiro Ozu.

8 – Os Verdes Anos (aka The Green Years – 1963)

Portuguese filmmaker Paulo Rocha died at the age of
seventy-seven on December 29, 2012, after a stroke. Leaving behind a stable
career as a lawyer, the young man preferred to follow his dream and absorb the
art of the French, especially Jean Renoir, of whom he was assistant, returning
to his country willing to redefine the cinema that was made there. In previous
decades, the Portuguese people embraced the simple humor of Vasco Santana’s
comedies, while more pretentious, almost always medium-length films such as
“Saltimbancos”, which Manuel Guimarães launched in 1951, failed to
establish a connection with his audience. In the early sixties, influenced by
Italian neo-realism and the French nouvelle vague, directors such as Fernando
Lopes, of the mid-length film “Belarmino”, José Ernesto de Sousa,
“Dom Roberto” and Paulo Rocha, opened new possibilities for the
Portuguese cinema.

Taking his cameras to the streets of Lisbon, without fear of
exposing the social contrasts, he filmed his first work: “The Greens
Years”, simply telling the relationship between a young man (Rui Gomes)
naive newcomer from the interior and a Maid (Isabel Ruth) of the Big City. The
script, in a short time, efficiently establishes the essence of each character.
The unsure boy who defends himself by saying, “A man without money is like
a car without gas,” or who is intimidated in the dance hall to the sound
of a rockabilly. The dazzled girl who parades for him, wearing the various
dresses of his mistress. Except for an American of a fight with his uncle
(Paulo Renato) in a bar, the boy walks the streets accompanied by his new
friend, without either of them understanding what is being said by the other,
the American states at one point: “I do not understand a word he says, but
I am inclined to agree,” brilliantly translating the boy’s conflict with
the hypocrisy of the city and its people in a humorous and still current
criticism. In the end, as in one of the variations of Chico Buarque’s song
“Construction”, the symbolic death of his naive and interior youth,
caused by an untimely and inconsequential decision, ended up disturbing the

The theme and the conduction may have aged in a less generous
way, but its soundtrack, composed by the great and longed guitarist Carlos
Paredes, who responded to the invitation of the director and identified with
the theme, resists bravely, thrilling as always.

9 – Az Prijde Kocour (aka The Cassandra Cat – 1963)

A Czech lyrical children’s fable with a strong behavioral
criticism, this movie received the jury’s special award in Cannes. The plot is
simple and brilliant. A village, microcosm for our society, receives the visit
of a magician, a beautiful young woman and her cat with sunglasses. With
special powers, the feline sees humans with different colors, according to
their character and their feelings, for example, a pair of intense red-colored
boyfriends, hypocrites and liars in purple, resulting in a vibrant color show
that guarantee the film a truly unique aesthetic, an antirealist tone where the
characters dance without music, a pleasant lucid dream. It is interesting to
note that the professional illusionists of the circus troupe act precisely by
removing the illusion / falseness veil that moves the characters, which
obviously does not make them unanimous in popularity in the place, since the
mere glimpse of the cat incites the terror of those who, even by profession,
must defend lies.

The most beautiful scene is when Diana, lived by the
charming Emília Vášáryová, removes the glasses of the cat in a nocturnal
spectacle of magic, presenting to the public, for the first time, this
peculiarity of the animal. Even without knowing the meaning of the different
colors, much of the population despairs and runs to escape the reach of the
little eyes. Pure children, untouched by adult hypocrisy, do not bother with
this phenomenon, as do passionate redheads, engrossed in their romantic hopes.
While adults hunt the cat, symbol of the fall of their social masks, children
protect the pet in every way. One of the most beautiful allegories in the
history of cinema, which never slips into pamphlet moralism, stimulating a deep
humanist reflection.

10 – Amerikanskaya Doch (aka American Daughter – 1995)

Abandoned by the woman who decides to live with a wealthy
American in the country of Uncle Sam, a Russian musician goes to meet him, ten
years later, in order to reestablish ties with his pre-adolescent daughter.

Some foreign texts criticize, for example, how little the
girl is too smart for her age, a great nonsense, only very insensitive
professionals are unable to see that the proposal of the work is to be like a
comic fable, there is no trace of realism in approach, pity, the outcome
delivers a child riding a helicopter! The director Karen Shakhnazarov is very
versatile, he purposefully drinks from the source of American melodramas,
betting on ordinary comic narrative solutions in these works, without any touch
of cynicism, the tone is a reverence. At the time of production, after the fall
of the Soviet Union, the relationship between the two nations began to show
signs of life, the American daughter, lived by the adorable Allison Whitbeck,
who, it is worth noting, carries the project on the back with impressive
charisma, representing the sincere intention of union. There is a wonderful
moment that represents well this leitmotiv, the father, lived by Vladimir
Mashkov, after escaping with his daughter, relaxes in a bar in the United
States singing in Russian, happy customers, genuinely interested in the art of
the stranger. Those people do not know the song, they do not even understand
the lyrics, but they enjoy the melody. Upon seeing a beautiful waitress, he,
emulating Elvis Presley, sings “Love me Tender” in English, putting
affection on every word, the mood in the environment is one of love and

The scene shows that the union between different cultures is
always the best way, the fascination in trying to understand the other, instead
of feeding the fear of the unknown, less walls, more bridges.

* Link para a postagem original no “Taste of Cinema”:

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