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Thread: SÓCRATES (Alex Moratto 2018)

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    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    SF Bay Area

    SÓCRATES (Alex Moratto 2018)



    A gay São Paolo teen facing off homelessness

    This debut is downbeat but energetic. It won the Independent Spirit Someone to Watch Award in January and acclaim at other festivals. Socrates is 15, just younger than the team (16-20) who worked on making this film. He's a São Paolo boy who's mother suddenly dies, so he must support himself to avoid homelessness or an institution in this teeming Brazilian city. He also happens to be gay.

    There have been great Brazilian films about the world of young poverty. Hector Babenco's Pixote is a memorably vivid picture of hard knocks for street kids. Meiralles and Lund's Cidade de deus (City of God) is an unforgettable saga, and there are many others. But Socrates, an almost real-time account of the first grim, turbulent days for a boy cast out on his own, is as vivid and valid an account as any because it takes us there close up from his point of view with its intense, unmediated sense of a no-exit world.

    He meets Maicon (Tales Ordakji) on a temporary job at a junkyard, a sexy, exotic young gay or bisexual guy with internalized homophobia issues. After a clash, they connect briefly for an erotic, affectionate, maybe even sexual encounter, but Maison rejects Socrates as soon as he seems needy and we eventually see why he can't be of much help: he has plenty going on at home. Socrates goes to his sister for a place to stay, but next morning she brings his father, who he will have nothing to do with for reasons we can guess. Later Maicon gives him some money and he stays at a cheap lodging house with it overnight, where he gets enjoyably drunk, a very temporary solution indeed.

    On revisiting his father only briefly, he runs away to the sea with his mother's ashes. I could smell the salt air, so intense is the camera work of dp Joao Gabriel de Queiroz and the sound design. We can see that though inexperienced and underage, Socrates is also tough and energetic. Does he sink or swim? No answer on that one. But this predicts a pretty healthy future for both the star Christian Malheiros and director Alex Moratto. In fact Malheiros is in the cast of the São Paulo-set Netflix series "Santonia." Ordakji also makes a strong impression.

    The film is especially significant because though it's a thoroughly pro effort, it was made by a 16-20-year-old crew from the Quero Institute, a UNICEF-supported project to introduce disadvantaged Sao Paolo youths to filmmaking. I liked the occasional rough panoramic urban landscapes, and the near total lack of score with some diegetic music.

    Socrates, 71 mins., debuted at the Los Angeles Film Festival Sept. 21, 2018. It has played at 19 film festivals and won prizes in 9, including the Independent Spirit "Someone to Watch" award. US theatrical release begins in LA at Laemmele Music Hall Aug. 9, Zeitgeist Theatre New Orleans and Cinema Village NYC Aug. 16, with DVD/VOD release Aug. 20. Reviewed by Dennis Harvey in Variety. A Breaking Glass Pictures release.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 08-02-2019 at 12:26 AM.


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