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1. Carandiru
$89.95 list($29.95)
2. Pixote
3. Kiss of the Spider Woman
4. At Play in the Fields of the Lord
5. Ironweed

1. Carandiru
Director: Hector Babenco
list price: $29.95
our price: $26.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B0002LJTIG
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 6265
Average Customer Review: 3.33 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

The setting is grim, but Carandiru is easily one of Brazilian filmmaker Hector Babenco's most living, thriving works, with scores of powerful performances and an engaging style underscoring the cathartic power of storytelling. Based on a bestselling novel, Carandiru concerns an oncologist (Luiz Carlos Vasconcelos) who treats patients at Sao Paulo's House of Detention, a terrible place largely policed from within by longtime prisoners. The doctor is specifically interested in collecting blood samples for an HIV study, but the more prisoners open up to him, the more compassionate and committed he becomes about their survival. Babenco's episodic structure gives Carandiru a dimension of memory and constant shots of energy, so that even the most horrifying events--drug-related murder, rape, revenge--can't drive this tale into abject misery. Based on actual events, the drama's climactic police raid on the prison (a reconstruction of a 1992 riot called the Carandiru Massacre) is a tour de force. --Tom Keogh ... Read more

Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Extremely Entertaining
This movie has outstanding visual style and tells a story with humor and color. Most films I see about jail are dark and gritty. This was fun at some parts and helped the viewer develop a connection with its inmates, because of their humaness, not from emotional manipulation. It is a true story about the eventual and horrific demise of 111 prisoners, but the story really doesn't get in to the whole demise thing that much. The ending devotes about 30 minutes of footage to this aspect of the jail. It was more about the inmates and their personalities. How the doctor saw them and how they relayed their stories to the doctor with such quirkiness. At first I thought this is going to be a boring movie, but it just kept getting better and better. If you are going to see a historical account of the jail's demise you will only see that part at the end. This is a human story with colorful characters and distinct and original storytelling on how those characters came to be in jail and how they were coping with there imprisonment while they were incarcerated. Funny but Dramatic, some gritty scenes of violence/ and odd but enticing creativity. Very Reccommended!

Lisa Nary

3-0 out of 5 stars "Truth has no place in jail."
Upon the initial arrival of Dr. Drauzio Varella to his new job as physician at the overcrowded and dilapidated Carandiru penitentiary in Sao Paulo, Brazil he is shocked and disturbed at his new surroundings; but it doesn't take him long to befriend the inmates and take an active interest in the inmates circumstances and personal histories. Through his practice of advocating AIDS prevention and education he forms friendships with a variety of prisoners who fulfill various social roles within the prison hierarchy. The conditions of the prison are alarming; there is little order or established routines and prisoners are left to their own devices.

Based on a true story, CARANDIRU attempts to portray the events leading up to a brutal massacre of 111 prisoners in 1992 when riot police smothered a rebellion within the prison grounds. This film is officially described as a drama but at times it masquerades as a comedy, which attributes to its eventual downfall. Included are many unnecessary scenes that distract from the tension and seriousness of this film, such as the gender bending wedding and the cat-fighting lovers. Also distracting is the often transparent and scripted scenes of the doctor asking the prisoners how they ended up in prison. Although there were some humorous scenes I couldn't help feeling that they just didn't belong.

All in all, CARANDIRU was a disappointment. It could have been a much better film with careful editing and more focus.

2-0 out of 5 stars If you likes marginal films, see this right away
The Casa de Detenção de São Paulo (Carandiru) was a notorious prison made more so by the 1992 massacre of 111 prisoners. The film Carandiru is directed by Hector Babenco (Pixote, Ironweed, Behind the Sun) in a documentary-style telling of the lives of at some prisoners and employees at the jail leading up to the horrifying event. The documentary style gives the director the ability to get into the minds of the prisoners through fictional interviews with prisoners through the eyes of a doctor working at the jail (the author of the book the film takes its cue from). The problem though, is that the shorts which make up the stories of various prisoners are interesting enough in themselves and at times hilarious, but don't form a cohesive tale as a whole. The bursts of continuous narration are compelling but end up frustrating because they inevitably end up with another sub-plot or side story.

The massacre at Carandiru is a worthwhile story in and of itself. It comes across here as brutal and arbitrary as one would expect. The deaths were condemned by every human rights organization and eventually led to the conviction of Colonel Ubiratan Guimaraes, the head of the operation. The massacre makes up the most effective aspect of the narration and comes across as physically unsettling. The inhumanity of Carandiru makes for an uncommon experience partially captured by Babenco but the unnecessary subplots of this film ruin a great deal of the more rewarding aspects of the film. There is a good film to be made from the story of Carandiru, but at two hours + of largely superfluous running time, this isn't it. ... Read more


2. Pixote
Director: Hector Babenco
list price: $29.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B000056PNB
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 14146
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3. Kiss of the Spider Woman
Director: Hector Babenco

Asin: B00005JKBO
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 57273
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4. At Play in the Fields of the Lord
Director: Hector Babenco

Asin: B00005JMHJ
Catlog: DVD
Average Customer Review: 4.13 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (31)

5-0 out of 5 stars Finally!! A Movie For Adults!!
I have probably watched this movie 10 times and each time I see something I missed before. In this age of comic-book character drek movies,here's a story with characters and plot that makes you think. A movie for ADULTS!

The story concerns a group of missionaries en route to the jungle to ram their religion down the throats of the poor indians (Lithgow, Hanna, Quinn and Bates). Tom Berenger is an American half Indian who is hired to bomb the people he discovers is of his own race. He decides instead to parachute himself into the tribe, thereby being considered their God.

From here everything goes downhill. Bates and Quinn's son dies of a fever, Bates goes mad; Berenger's character has a sexual fling with Hanna who is unknown to everyone, carrying a virus
which would not kill anyone in a first world, but is catastrophic to the Indians when Berenger returns to infect everyone.

The aerial photography at the beginning was some of the most beautiful you'll ever see in any movie. The South American topography looks like the Grand Canyon, only covered in green, green, GREEN!! The characters are very fleshed out and deep. This is a movie that leaves you wondering what happened to them after the movie ends. Too bad garbage like "X-men", "Spiderman, "Incredible Hulk", ad nauseum get all the big box office. I'm sorry this one did not do well either. But, then, considering the mentality of humanity these days, I'm not surprised.

3-0 out of 5 stars Berenger and Quinn make this film worth viewing
Ofcourse, Tom Berenger and Aidan Quinn have the only two fully developed characters in this script and they both did a tremendous job. Darryl Hannah's performance was also good, but would have been better had her character been explored more deeply. I was not impressed with the performances of Bates and Lithgow, however, despite being a fan of their other work. There were moments when I laughed because the acting was so over the top.
What is so sad about this film overall is that it really could have been great. It's a great story that needs to be told, but even the best actors can only do so much with a poor script.
I've read comments from others about the nudity being an issue in the film. That's just ridiculous and I had to comment on it because when I finally viewed the film, I didn't even notice the nudity. Naked body? We've all got one under our clothes. Get over it.
Two of the three stars are for Berenger and Quinn for doing such a great job. Without those two performances, this is a one star film.

5-0 out of 5 stars Good.
'At Play in the Fields of the Lord' is a excellent movie about a failed attempt to "civilize" a group of native americans living in the Amazon. Check it out.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fantastic missionary movie
At Play in the Fields of the Lord is a movie to have in your personal collection. It has stayed in my memory since my first viewing many years ago, and remains to date one of the best missionary movies ever made. Based on the book by the same name by Peter Mathiessen, author of In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, the film masterfully weaves the clash between Native peoples and the well meaning Christians who aim to convert them. Featuring stunning scenery, filmed entirely on location in Amazonia, and with an all-star cast, I can't recommend it highly enough. I also recommend Black Robe if you enjoy this movie.

5-0 out of 5 stars Culture clash...
Here's a big book reduced to a three-hour film. I don't have a problem with that. The parts left out could make a whole 'nother film. The resulting film is quite profound and fascinating; Babenco got a big budget after his success with "Kiss of the Spider Woman", and made an epic which is unusually intimate. I appreciated the acting, all of it. Kathy Bates in particular was solid in her relatively small role, and one of these days Daryl Hannah will be taken seriously. Berenger and Quinn have the moxy to carry this film well. The photography is exquisite, especially some of the aerial shots, but also crystal clear close-ups that show every bead of sweat, etc. Stunning! I've read most of the other reviews before making my comments. This film had me from the beginning, and I'm sorry for those who didn't "get it". Films about trying to change the beliefs of natives are interesting (and upsettingly frustrating) for me. Another riveting film (for me) was 1966's "Hawaii", based on Michener, which told a similar story. "Windwalker"? "Roots"? The religious thing, to me, is merely a matter of interpretation. Who's to say that these natives aren't praying to the same God? Idols? Well, the Christian churches have plenty of their own, patron saints to various things; St. Christopher medals, cricifixes... Those movies about Columbus, or the Pilgrims, also told of similar situations. Imagine the confusion of those innocent people, who only died of age until the "Christians" came along. Nudity? Who cares. It's what they did. How dare I criticize another's culture, when my own is so screwed up. Babenco used authentic Amazonians, and I applaud him for it. This film pretty much put the kabosh on Babenco's legitimacy in Hollywood; alas, the film was a failure. I eagerly await the emergence of a DVD version of this film, as well as "Hawaii". A wide letterbox could show off some breath-taking panoramas and brilliant photography. Sorry if you don't like my opinions. I'm still an American and believe in the First Amendment; I'm also a Christian who is never ashamed, often embarrassed. ... Read more


5. Ironweed
Director: Hector Babenco

Asin: B00005JO9L
Catlog: DVD
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (7)

4-0 out of 5 stars Not a typical Jack Nicholson role
This movie is for a specific viewer, it is more of a social commentary than entertainment. Yet, you will enjoy Jack's and Meryl's performances, they are great as always.

3-0 out of 5 stars Albany, 1938
William Kennedy's Pulitzer Prize novel set to film, the story takes place in Albany in 1938 (with some flashbacks to earlier times). Jack Nicholson is Frances Phelen, a once promising ballplayer who accidentally dropped his baby son, which killed the boy and sent him on the skids to becoming a bum with a ghost-filled past he can't forget. Meryl Streep is Helen Archer, an old flame of Phelen's who too is down on her luck. Nothing much happens in the movie; it's mostly atmosphere: skid row, old memories, etc. At 144 minutes it's way too long--we lose interest in the characters, even though their acting is superb. If only it had been focused a little more--it sort of just drifts along where it should have been nailed down.

3-0 out of 5 stars This could be the most depressing movie ever made!
This could be the most depressing movie ever made! Don't watch it with a loaded gun in your hand.

3-0 out of 5 stars Hard to sit through
Jack Nicholson normally plays roles of blistering intensity, but in 'Ironweed', he plays an aging, burned out bum.Nothing wrong with that, but Nicholson didn't seem right for it.Maybe DeNiro would have been more convincing.Nonetheless, the story is about a bum who keeps having flashbacks of his younger days when he was fighting working man.Apparently he accidently killed three people in his lifetime.All the killings were show in chronological order as 'Ironweed' progressed.I wasn't able to see the last killing because I couldn't finish the film.Only for die-hard Nicholson and Streep fans.

5-0 out of 5 stars Breathtakingly sad & beautiful
Where do you start with a movie like this? The cinematography & art direction are stunning. Every single shot, every frame, is a Hopperesque masterpiece: colors, lighting, composition. It grabs you way way deep inside. The writing is of a rare pureness: concentrated & intense & head-spining. The excellent writer William Kennedy wrote the screenplay from his Pulitzer prize-winning masterpiece of a novel. You can't get better than that. And then the acting. What acting! Where to start? Tom Waits who sings even when he acts. Jack Nicholson always reaching - out & deep inside - tremendous! Never better. And the exquisitely divine (sorry, can't help it) Meryl Streep: beautiful, heartwrenching, pathetic, laughable, lovable & real. The part of a lifetime, no not just a lifetime, the part of an entire movie-making era. Lastly the direction by the masterful Hector Babenco. Thank you Snr. Babenco. You belong in the pantheon with Von Stroheim, Renoir, Fellini. Thank you. So why has this film fallen into the void of video oblivion? I guess because it's an honest no melodramatics or histrionics depiction of bums - real people who represent the alternative lives that all of us could be leading but would really prefer never be reminded of. ... Read more


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