Announcing my book “Eye of the Beholder,” out Sept. 1

A partial transcript from Episode 23 of THE ART MOVEMENT. Scroll down to listen to the full radio show.

The Venice International Film Festival is scheduled to take place from the 2nd to the 12th of September and on the eve of its opening night, in other words, on the 1st of September, I will be releasing my first book.

It’s a collection of my film writings on film from the final two years of my CineCola website that focused on cinema, so, from 2017 and 2018.

The book is titled Eye of the Beholder, after my fundamental stance on film and art criticism, which is my believe that the cinematic truth lies in the eye of the beholder and that any work of art has the potential to help us understand ourselves and the world around us based more on a personal connection that we share with the artwork itself rather than any academic stances.

The pieces collected in the book are quite varied in both form and content. We go from a rather traditionalist piece on the history of the making of Milos Forman’s The Firemen’s Ball, one of the masterpieces of the Czechoslovak New Wave, to a lengthy account of what I hope the cinema venue of the future will look like, to a stream-of-consciousness piece written in response to the death of Bernardo Bertolucci.

In fact, in putting Eye of the Beholder together, I did favour eclecticism over cohesiveness and grand statements. But in any case, I will be releasing that on the day before the beginning of the Venice International Film Festival in eBook form and you can also order a paperback copy if you’re that way inclined. Which I understand because I, myself, am a paperback kind of guy. I may also release it in audio-book form.

Download the full show HERE.

THE ART MOVEMENT – Episode 23 (RADIO SHOW)

Welcome to THE ART MOVEMENT, a radio show about arts and culture, where all art forms and free thoughts are allowed. The show is hosted and produced by globe-trotting arts presenter Matt Micucci, and features plenty of music, interview clips and thoughts on current events.

Listen to Episode 23 via one of the players below.

Download the full show here.

In this episode:

  • The 1911 theft of the Mona Lisa;
  • Marcel Duchamp and the beginning of post-modernism;
  • What drives Henry Rollins;
  • Find your mentors in artworks;

and more, plus lots of music.

5 Clips from THE ART MOVEMENT – Episode 22 (RADIO SHOW)

Here are five clips from the latest episode of my radio show, THE ART MOVEMENT, the weekly radio show hosted/produced by arts presenter Matt Micucci. The show revolves around art and culture, and where all art forms and free thoughts are allowed.

(To listen to/download the full radio show, scroll to the bottom of the page.)

The Cinemateca Brasileira and over 100 years of Brazilian film heritage are in danger.

The Cinema Novo film movement of Brazil.

How art inspired outrage, empathy and revolution.

Why would Bolsonaro be interested in damaging cultural heritage?

Modern types of Tango music.

Lots more where that came from! You can listen to the full epsiode of THE ART MOVEMENT (including the music) via the player below.

Download the full show HERE.

Click here to buy my book of thoughts on film, Eye of the Beholder, on Amazon!

Brazil and the Cinema Novo Film Movement

A partial transcript of Episode 22 of my arts and culture radio show, THE ART MOVEMENT. Scroll down to listen to the full show.

It must be said, however, that the history of cinema in Brazil is a reflection of its tumultuous political history. In fact, cinema had periods of few ups and many downs, and struggled to become a hugely popular form of entertainment due to its reliance on state funding.

Brazil has always traditionally been a politically conservative country because its ruling classes have mostly been white, conservative men. But there was a period of liberalization that Brazil experienced from the late ’50s to the coup d’etat of 1964, via such progressive Brazilian presidents as Kubitschek and Goulart.

During this time, Brazilian cinema was renewed by a movement known as the Cinema Novo, which translates as New Cinema. The movement had been particularly influenced by Italian neo-realism.

It also came with a manifesto, penned by Glaubert Rocha. The strongest theme outlined in the manifesto was an “aesthetic of hunger,” where hunger was outlined not only as an alarming symptom but also the essence of Brazilian society.

In fact, Rocha wrote, “Herein lies the tragic originality of Cinema Novo, in relation to world cinema: our originality is our hunger and our greatest misery is that this hunger is felt but not intellectually understood.”

Essentially, this statement reflects the desire of many Cinema Novo filmmakers, including Rocha himself, to make movies that would reflect society as it was rather than depict a vision of everyday life that represented society as the ruling politicians wanted it to be represented.

Rocha in fact directed some of the best films of the movement, including Barravento, about an educated black man returning to his home rural village to free the people off the shackles of mysticism, which he considers a factor of political and social oppression; and Black God, White Devil, about an employee who begins to follow a self-professed saint after murdering his employer. Two other great figures of cinema novo were Ruy Guerra and Nelson Pereira dos Santos.

But unlike other like-minded movements of the time that sought to counter the predominant cinema of its country, the most famous of these being the French New Wave, Cinema Novo was relatively short-lived. Its first wave lasted only about four years and came to an abrupt end with the 1964 coup d’etat, which re-established a military regima politically aligned to the interests of the United States government in the most heated period of the Cold War.

There were films made after 1964 that are considered Cinema Novo movies. But the first wave is the one that you really need to see from this period. Much like Czechoslovakia, it took some time for Brazilian cinema to regain some freedoms.

Indeed, the film that marked a significant rebirth for Brazilian cinema, if ever it had been truly born on an internationally significant scale at all… was City of God from 2002 was Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund.

It shouldn’t be surprising to note that this particular film was made just one year after the election of Lula, generally regarded as the first left-wing president since Joao Goulert was dethroned, so to speak, in 1964.

Download the full radio show HERE

Click here to buy my book of thoughts on film, Eye of the Beholder, on Amazon!

Why the Bolsonaro Government is Damaging Brazil’s Cultural Heritage

A partial transcript of Episode 22 of my arts and culture radio show, THE ART MOVEMENT. Scroll down to listen to the full show.

Sao Paulo-based film critic Felipe Furtado told Sight & Sound that the Bolsonaro government has “zero interest in culture and memory, and their neoliberal views regard any sort of art funding as a complete waste of resources. They also see most of art and education as suspicious overrun by leftists…”

But why would he be interested in harming the arts and cultural sector? Well, as mentioned, Bolsonaro is a highly controversial figure of the far-right. Art, of course, has power and resonated with people. It also broadens people’s horizons, opens their minds and gets them thinking. This is obviously something that an extremist government would not want people doing.

A government that’s interested in controlling as much of its population’s life as possible will most likely want to control all narratives of its own country. By doing so, it will not only look to produce new stories but also do its best to repress the older ones.

That’s what the Bolsonaro government did with the Cinemateca, although they were quite deceitful about it. They didn’t burn it to the ground outright. They just cut its funds and then cut its energy sources, leaving all those reels of film to rot.

Of course, one would assume that the intent is to destroy the past to increase investment in creating new films, perhaps ones that help communicate Bolsonaro’s vision of his country and project an image of Brazil that he could really get behind.

This is not a new concept, and it is an idea that recalls the term propaganda. And you know, it’s like that old saying — if it ain’t broke, why try to fix it?

Because you know what? Whatever Bolsonaro is doing is actually working! As of this recording, the coronavirus has killed more than 105,000 people in Brazil, making it the second-highest death toll worldwide after the United States. Several jobs were lost during this period.

Nevertheless, a survey revealed that Bolsonaro’s popularity is at a record high, showing that his popularity has surged five points from June, to 37 per cent, while his disapproval rating plunged 10 points to 34 per cent. And why am I not surprised…

Download the full radio show HERE.

Click here to buy my book of thoughts on film, Eye of the Beholder, on Amazon!

The Cinemateca Brasileira and Brazil’s Cultural Heritage Is in Danger

A partial transcript of Episode 22 of my arts and culture radio show, THE ART MOVEMENT. Scroll down to listen to the full show.

In my ART MOVEMENT shows, I try not to get too carried away with politics but in the past, I have talked about how I believe that you can tell a lot about any given country’s state of democracy by its treatment of the arts and cultural heritage at large.

When we think about totalitarians and extremists burning books, destroying artworks or censoring and prosecuting artists, we tend to think of it as something of a different time. Footage from the past shot in black and white.

Yet, there are several worrying situations right now in various parts of the world that we should be aware of. One of these is certainly Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, which also happens to top my personal list of countries I’ve always wanted to visit.

Since his election, the right-wing politician has done much to be considered one of the world’s most controversial leaders. He has trampled over human rights and decreased democratic rights in Brazil. In the process, he has also shown a great disregard for the arts and culture sector.

Brazil has been one of the worst hit countries by the coronavirus pandemic. This has facilitated his government’s plans for a stronghold on arts and culture, as well as its educational sector. One of the latest examples is what is currently happening with the Cinemateca Brasileira, which is the cinematheque of Brazil.

The Cinemateca Brasileira was founded in 1940, which makes it one of the oldest cinema institutions in the entire country. It’s also home to the largest film archive in South American with 250,000 rolls of film and a million cinema-related documents.

It is, in other words, the most important institution for preserving the memory of Brazilian cinema and also, works from the cinemas of other countries that were discovered in Brazil.

Despite its obvious invaluable status, the Bolsonaro government has little time for it. The Cinematheque’s employees have not been paid since March. During this period, the government completely cut finances to the foundation tasked with looking after it, leaving the institution broke.

As a result, the Cinemateca has not been able to pay its bills and recently, its electricity was cut off. Last Friday, a Special Secretariat for Culture took keys to the Cinematheque in an operation that involved heavily armed men from the Federal Police force.

In addition, 41 employees were fired. A dismantling of the Cinemateca is currently underway with no experts in the preservation of film involved. 

Archiving films is not as easy as storing stacked reels of film on a shelf. The film medium requires a lot of care and attention in order to be preserved, not to mention that each of the reels of films is painstakingly catalogued, as the risk of losing anything from any archive is always around the corner.

Abrupt abandonment, the way in which it is happening in the Cinemateca, puts its cultural collection at great risk, since much of the stored material is composed of nitrate, a substance that can spontaneously combust without proper care. Care must therefore be performed by highly skilled labourers.

Without trained technical staff, all the national memory stored there may disappear forever.

Download the full radio show HERE

Click here to buy my book of thoughts on film, Eye of the Beholder, on Amazon!

THE ART MOVEMENT – Episode 22 (RADIO SHOW)

Welcome to THE ART MOVEMENT, a radio show about arts and culture, where all art forms and free thoughts are allowed. The show is hosted and produced by globe-trotting arts presenter Matt Micucci, and features plenty of music, interview clips and thoughts on current events.

Listen to Episode 22 via one of the player below.

Download the full show HERE.

In this episode:

  • The film heritage of Brazil is under threat
  • Brazil’s Cinema Novo movement
  • How art inspired outrage and empathy
  • Modern Tango music

and more, plus lots of music.

Click here to buy my book of thoughts on film, Eye of the Beholder, on Amazon!

5 clips from THE ART MOVEMENT – Episode 20 (RADIO SHOW)

Here are five clips from the latest episode of my radio show, THE ART MOVEMENT, the weekly radio show hosted/produced by arts presenter Matt Micucci. The show revolves around art and culture, and where all art forms and free thoughts are allowed.

(To listen to/download the full radio show, scroll to the bottom of the page.)

What is The Art Movement?

My thoughts on the negative feedback on this year’s Venice International Film Festival program.

Orson Welles and Dennis Hopper were unruly geniuses.

What is art nouveau?

Who is Alfons Mucha?

Lots more where that came from! You can listen to the full epsiode of THE ART MOVEMENT (including the music) via the player below.

Download the full radio show here.

Click here to buy my book of thoughts on film, Eye of the Beholder, on Amazon!

Orson Welles and Dennis Hopper: Unruly Geniuses

A partial transcript of Episode 20 of THE ART MOVEMENT. Click here to listen to the full radio show.

I have to mention one of the films of the 2020 program of the festival that immediately stood out. It’s a film called Hopper/Welles. It’s having its premiere in Venice. And I looked into it a little bit. Apparently, it’s just a 129-minute long conversation between Orson Welles and Dennis Hopper. Officially, it’s down as being directed by Welles.

That would make Hopper/Welles yet another recently discovered, posthumously released film by Orson Welles, following The Other Side of the Wind, the lost and unfinished Orson Welles film that saw the light of day in 2018. And it actually premiered in Venice that year too, and I was there to see it. I went to a late night press screening of it and interviewed the editor who basically put the final piece together.

The Other Side of the Wind starred John Huston and Peter Bogdanovich, obviously two great directors in their own right. And very few people thought that film would ever see the light of day. But when I went to that late night screening, first of all, the room was packed. Which is rare for a late night screening.

But also, something happened I had never seen and I don’t think I have ever seen again. As soon as Orson Welles’ name popped up during the opening credits, people just applauded enthusiastically and some people jumped up on their feet.

Like, this guy. We all love him, man. And that just goes to show how exciting we all were and we even forgave the film for being kinda meh in the end. It was still very cool to be one of the first people in the world to have seen it. Although I did ask myself whether Welles himself would have been happy that the film that he refused to complete had actually been screened.

But I’m just thinking about Hopper/Welles. Obviously, I’m really looking forward to seeing the movie whether I go to Venice this year or not. I’m still not sure and I’m not really sure I would want to go. I’ll only go if the money is right. Otherwise, I’ll sit this one out and focus on myself. I’d go if I got to be a member of the jury. But anyways.

Like, when I think of Welles and Hopper, I see so many similarities between them. Both were obviously revolutionary figures in American film history. Both were also prone to excesses. Welles died an enormously obese man and an alcoholic. Hopper struggled with sever drug problems and alcohol addiction for most of his life.

But men’s directorial debuts were groundbreaking. Citizen Kane by Orson Welles from 1941 still, to this day, routinely tops Best Movie Ever lists and rightly so, in my opinion. And Hopper’s first movie, Easy Rider, which he co-directed with Peter Fonda in 1969. That film essentially kickstarted the most exciting film movement in American film, known as New Hollywood.

In fact, Hopper almost put an end to this entire movement with that disastrous production of The Last Movie, released in 1971. Actually, the film itself is great in my opinion. And it was more the production itself, just how amazingly chaotic it was. I mean, you want to read about it. It almost ended Hopper’s career outright. His relationship with the studios kind of never recovered. And really, who knew more about troubles with the American studio system than Orson Welles.

I mean, they were also both renaissance men and so it’s going to be interesting for sure to see what these two guys would have talked about on that specific date. I do hope the film will present the conversation uncut. I am not interested in contemporary critics or contributors popping up on the screen every now and then to tell us all how great they were. Dennis Hopper and Orson Welles are two guys that you see and you know, even just by their sheer unparalleled charisma, how great they were.

Download the full show here.

Click here to buy my book of thoughts on film, Eye of the Beholder, on Amazon!

The time I did not meet Wim Wenders

People understandably like to talk about the notable artists they have met during the course of their lives. Yet, one of the moments that I think about the most of my career as an arts presenter is the time when I did not meet Wim Wenders at the Venice International Film Festival in 2016.

Wenders is one of my all-time filmmakers. The celebrated German director was one of the key figures of the New German Cinema of the ’70s. He has directed such films as Alice in the Cities, Wings of Desire, The American Friend and Paris, Texas.

As well as his films, I also like the way his mind works. I have read his texts on cinema and refer to them quite a lot. In fact, they too have helped shape the way I think about film today.

In 2016, Wenders was presenting his latest film at the Venice International Film Festival. It was a 3D movie named The Beautiful Days of Aranjuez, based on a play of the same name by Peter Handke.

In reality, the film was rather underwhelming. It raised many eyebrows. At the time, it was criticized for being self-conscious and generally dull. However, I personally appreciated the beauty of its images. I also appreciate the way that Wenders, at this point in his career, is so revered that he is unafraid to experiment with certain artistic concepts.

That year, as I have done for most of the past decade of my life, I was covering the festival for FRED Film Radio. The opportunity arose to record an interview with Wenders himself. I jumped at it.

I knew the interview could not be long, which was a shame. But I didn’t particularly care. I never really get starstruck. But to me, the prospect of meeting one of my heroes and documenting an encounter with me was simply irresistible. So, I guess my primary motive for recording the interview on this occasion was mostly selfish.

The story of why the interview did not happen is not very interesting. A publicist’s misunderstanding and a general carelessness of the organizing staff are mostly to blame. It’s possible that Wenders, upset with the reaction to his film, simply did not care to talk all that much about it.

In any case, at first, I was mortified and heartbroken. What I noticed is that, for the remainder of the festival, I continued to interview notable guests and sometimes really big stars. But I found the disappointment I experienced regarding that missed Wenders opportunity empowering.

It was as if that disappointment had shielded me from feeling any type of intimidation towards the other guests I interviewed, no matter how big. Because I had missed THE interview; the one that would have meant the most to me. It was like a Kierkegaardian phenomenon.

It wasn’t the first time I have realized in my life that disappointment too is an energy. As such, it can neither be created nor destroyed but can be transformed. It is a matter of how you can use that energy and what you can transform it into. That’s how something apparently negative at first can be turned into something incredibly positive.

Click here to buy my book of thoughts on film, Eye of the Beholder, on Amazon!