FafaSays

IMDb member since October 2000
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    IMDb Member
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Reviews

Filhas do Vento
(2004)

Wonderful cast, wonderful acting
In a small Brazilian town, two sisters, one interested in becoming a famous actress, and the other, interested only in her boyfriend, live with their father. The mother left the family with another man.

After a misunderstanding, the father kicks out the sister who has always wanted to be an actress. The sisters are separated for many years and finally reunited at the funeral service of their father. They finally confront each other about their hurts and their past. Then they have to decide whether they can forgive each other.

Filhas do Vento (Daughters of the Wind) is the story of these two sisters and their daughters. It boasts of the largest black cast in a Brazilian film. It includes well-known and seasoned actors like Tais Araujo, and Thalma de Freitas, Milton Gonçalves, Ruth de Sousa, Maria Ceiça, Zózimo Bulbul, Léa Garcia, Jonas Bloch and Rocco Pitanga.

In addition to the interesting story, Filhas do Vento is filmed in a picturesque setting that does not escape the viewer's attention.

Bicho de Sete Cabeças
(2000)

A Tragic Story with a Positive Ending
Neto is a teenager. He's quiet, doesn't seem to care about anything, and is tight-lipped with his mother, father and sister. He hangs out, drinks, smokes pot with his friends, and gets arrested for spray-painting graffiti. He even gets into a pushing fight with his father when they argue.

When his father finds a marijuana joint in his clothing, the family thinks that he has a drug habit. They decide to practice tough love to help him. Do they talk to him about what they've found? No. Do they put him in a drug-counseling program? No.

This is where the title, Bicho de Sete Cabeças (animal with seven heads) comes in. It's a Brazilian term that loosely means, 'making a mountain out of a molehill,' 'blowing something way out of proportion' or 'something horrible.' The action that Neto's family takes when they find that he's been smoking joints is drastic. Convinced that they are doing the proper thing, they commit him into a mental institution. They have every faith in the staff to help their loving son and brother.

Neto's nightmare begins, when it is evident that he is in the wrong place. The Institution staff is corrupt and mistreats its patients. In order to keep him docile and to restrain him in the ward to get more government funds, they give him drugs and shock therapy.

This film is based on the real life experience of Austregésilo Carrano who has made it his mission in life to expose and fight abuses that can take place in Brazilian mental institutions. While watching the film, I thought the entire situation would end in a tragedy, but I was happy to see that something positive came out of the experience.

The entire cast gives a heart-wrenching performance. Rodrigo Santoro, who plays the role of Neto gives a very strong performance. My heart ached for Neto as I watched his father trick him into going to the mental institution and then finding himself trapped in a nightmare, where he was sane among the other patients.

The sister (played by Daniela Nefussi) and parents (played by Othon Bastos and Cássia Kiss) give convincing performances. I could understand their actions, although clearly misguided and drastic.

Bicho de Sete Cabeças is the story of something horrific that ends well.

O Homem Que Copiava
(2003)

Good Story, good ending!
'Money is only paper that people believe is worth something. If nobody believes it, it's useless,' says Andre, a young man who works as a paper copier in a store but really wants to work as a cartoonist.

Too bad that everyone believes that money is a very useful piece of paper. Andre doesn't make enough money. His paycheck is low and he struggles with his meager budget, which allows him to buy and do very little. Everyday, he thinks of different ways to make money.

The need of money can make a person do some desperate things and Andre becomes desperate when he meets the girl of his dreams. He needs money to spend on her. His desperation leads him to make some very questionable choices.

Andre's character is so likable that I couldn't help but cheer him on to succeed in his dreams. I hoped that he would not get in trouble or hurt. The people around him like his girlfriend Sylvia, his co-worker Marinez, and her friend Cardoso are all appealing characters to watch.

This is a fun movie to watch with interesting twists and turns to the very end. It's a good story with a good ending.

Dom
(2003)

Good story about jealousy
When Ana walks past Bento in a crowded room, he immediately recognizes her. He sees the girl that she once was and the woman that she's become. He remembers how they'd promised to love and marry each other. Somehow that never happened. But when they see each other again, they fall in love again. It's passionate and explosive and soon, they get married and have a beautiful baby boy.

Things are perfect and blissful, but unfortunately their happiness doesn't last long. Bento is struck with seeds of unreasonable jealousy when he sees how well his best friend, Miguel, and Ana get along. Thinking that the two have a secret relationship going on, his loving behavior changes towards Ana and he even doubts that he is the father of their child.

This is a very interesting story of love and a relationship spoiled by distrust. Marcos Palmeira, as Bento, plays this jealous character so well. It was fascinating to see him first as a happy, confident man and then slowly turn into someone who lets his insecurities eat away at him, so that he hurts the woman he loves and destroys their marriage. I wanted so much to reach through the screen and shake some sense into him for his behavior. Maria Fernanda Cândido gives a good performance as Ana, the wife who loves her husband and has a hard time understanding his behavior. Bruno Garcia plays Miguel, the good friend.

The film is inspired by the work of 19th century Brazilian author Brazilian author Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis called Dom Casmurro.

Amores Possíveis
(2001)

Three Possible Loves
Carlos, a lawyer, has three different lives but one thing is the same: A dream about ex girlfriend, Julia. Years earlier, Carlos and Julia were supposed to meet at the movies. She never showed up.

The first Carlos is married to his wife, Maria, but is not very happy with his life. The second Carlos is divorced with a son and lives with his male lover. The third Carlos is single with a string of different girlfriends and lives at home with his mother.

Each man is reunited with his love, Julia, but the ending for each man is not what you'd expect.

Amores Possíveis (Possible Loves) is an interesting story of three different possible loves. It is acted out well by the main characters Murilo Benico and Carolina Ferraz who play multiple parts.

I also liked the music soundtrack, which featured songs by musicians like Chico Buarque, Zizi Possi, Ana Carolina, João Gilberto, Paulinho Moska, Bonga, Afro Cuban All Stars and much more.

Lisbela e o Prisioneiro
(2003)

A Movie with a Happily Ever After Ending
Leléu Antônio da Anunciação (Selton Mello) is a con man who travels through small Brazilian towns, scamming the people and sleeping with the townswomen.

When he makes the mistake of sleeping with the wife of a hit man's and is caught, Leléu barely gets away with his life. Quickly, he moves on to another town, Vitória de Santo Antão, where he meets and falls in love, for the first time, with Lisbela (Débora Falabella). The daughter of the Police Chief, Lisbela is a sweet girl who enjoys watching movies and usually relates life to the world of films.

Leléu has many problems to juggle: The hit-man, Frederic Evandro (Marco Nanini), also known as the Candlelighter, is hot on his trail to kill him; Frederic's wife, Inaura (Virginia Cavendish), claims to be in love with him and has followed him; and Lisbela is engaged to be married to someone else.

Some scenes are a little too much, too over the top, but overall Lisbela e o Prisioneiro (Lisbela and the Prisoner) is enjoyable.

Miel et cendres
(1996)

Raw, Real, and Sad - a Compelling Film
HONEY AND ASHES is about three women who live in a North African Islamic country. Each has a different life. Leila is a headstrong, intelligent student. Naima is a doctor with a young daughter, and Amina is a housewife also with a daughter.

Despite their differences, they have something in common. They are caught between the modern and traditional rules for a woman because they live in a patriarchal society.

Leila has to hide her feelings for her true love from her strict father; Naima's family forces her into an unwanted arranged marriage; and Amina's husband, a popular university professor, constantly abuses her.

The three storylines captivated me. It is very raw, very real, and in many ways very sad. Despite the circumstances, the film also shows the strength of women.

HONEY AND ASHES is a striking view of the lives of some women. It is a compelling film to watch.

A Casa das Sete Mulheres
(2003)

A SERIES OF EPIC BEAUTY - POWERFUL!
A CASA DAS SETE MULHERES (The House of the Seven Women) is a mini-series loosely based on a part of Brazilian history (the Farroupilha War) and some very dynamic historical characters.

The Farroupilha War began when the Gaúchos, people who lived in the Rio Grande do Sul region of Brazil wanted independence from the Portugal Empire. They were unhappy with the Portuguese rule (Imperials) and started a revolt that lasted ten years, from 1835 to 1845.

The name of the civil war comes from the Portuguese word "Farrapos" which means, ragged or tattered clothing. With the exception of their leaders, who were wealthy land owners, the rebels (lower-class people, slaves, free blacks, and Indians) were poorly dressed, poorly fed and in poor health.

The historical figures in this mini series include the following: Bento Gonçalves da Silva (Werner Schünemann) - leader of the rebels, Giuseppe Garibaldi (Thiago Lacerda) - an Italian adventurer and revolutionary, Ana Maria de Jesus Ribeiro better known as Anita Garibaldi (Giovanna Antonelli) - a revolutionary and abolitionist, and Manuela Ferreira (Camelia Morgado) - the narrator of the story.

Against the background of this war, the story introduces the viewers to seven women (all related to Bento Gonçalves) - Dona Ana Joaquina (eldest sister of Bento Gonçalves), Caetana (wife of Bento Gonçalves), Perpétua (Caetana's daughter), Maria (sister of Bento Gonçalves), Manuela, Rosario, and Mariana (Maria's daughters). Dona Antônia (Jandira Martini), another sister of Bento Gonçalves, is not officially considered part of the "Sete Mulheres" (Seven Women) group but deserves a special mention.

While the men are away fighting, the women move into one house (Dona Ana Joaquina's house) on a ranch for safety reasons. Each woman has a different personality and absorbing storyline of love, grief, courage, desire, hate, despair, hope, bitterness, and determination.

A CASA DAS SETE MULHERES (The House of the Seven Women) presents a splendid story. Directed by Jayme Monjardim, it follows his other successful works like "Terra Nostra" and "O Clone." The actors give a strong performance. The scenery of the southern part of Brazil is breathtaking. The music, directed by Marcus Viana, is moving.

The action, drama, and romance will keep you glued to your T.V.

Antwone Fisher
(2002)

An incredible story of human spirit and forgiveness – Everyone should see this!
ANTWONE FISHER is the story of a young emotionally troubled U.S. Navy seaman. His problems lead him to Jerome Davenport, a psychiatrist who helps him realize that his troubles stem from his childhood upbringing.

Get ready to shed a tear or two. The movie could thaw the coldest heart. I loved the story, which turns from something so very awful to happen to anyone into a positive ending. ANTWONE FISHER is a powerful movie, most importantly about forgiveness. Other important issues that get you thinking are child abuse, adoption, and foster care.

Oscar winner, Denzel Washington does an impressive job in his directorial debut. There were many scenes which I enjoyed watching. They included the beginning (dreams of a little boy – check out the gigantic-sized pancakes!) and the ending (dreams turned into reality), which beautifully tied the story together.

Another wonderful scene occurred when the doctor encouraged Antwone to search for his family to find answers to his questions about his family that abandoned him.

My favorite scene happened when the young man finally confronted his mother and her reaction towards him. Priceless.

All the actors represented their parts well.

In addition to directorial responsibilities, Mr. Washington continues to show why he won an Oscar award and is successful in all his acting roles. He had a strong presence in this movie.

Actor, Derek Luke demonstrated why he was so right for the part of Antwone Fisher. He portrayed very real and heart-tugging work.

Joy Bryant who played the part of Cheryl, Antwone's love interest, resembled a ray of sunshine on the screen. The chemistry flowed well between the romantic characters.

Novella Nelson who played the part of Mrs. Tate, a despicable character, deserves special mention.

Although we only see her for a few minutes, the actress who played Fisher's mother gave an outstanding performance.

Everyone should see ANTWONE FISHER.

La vida en el espejo
(1999)

A well produced show; don't pass it over.
LA VIDA EN EL ESPEJO (Life in the Mirror) is a modern-day story about a family with problems; they are problems that many real-life families face. Santiago and Isabel's relationship fall apart, after 25 years of marriage. As a result, their children are badly affected and their lives fall apart, as well. Each child has a secret and each one handles his or her problems in a different way - some are self-destructive. This Mexican telenovela is about infidelity, family, divorce, sexual orientation, friendship, forgiveness and much more. LA VIDA EN EL ESPEJO is a well-produced show with good acting.

This telenovela is unique, because usually we watch shows where the father is the cause of the breakup in the family. Here, the wife is the one to have the affair. Her action causes very harmful consequences and the viewer gets a chance to see what the husband experiences. You'll want to continue watching the show to find out what happens when the dust settles from the results of the extramarital affair and the separation begin.

After watching LA VIDA EN EL ESPEJO, look for its counterpart, MIRADA A MUJER (View of a Woman), which demonstrates the woman's experience after her husband has an extramarital affair.

Mirada de mujer
(1997)

A Smart Realistic Novela
This Mexican telenovela, MIRADA DE MUJER (View of a Woman) shows a woman's view of several issues. The main issue is infidelity.

Maria Ines has three children and is happily married - or so she thinks. She is shocked and devastated to learn that her husband has a lover (a much younger woman) and he wants a divorce from her. The story shows how Maria Ines, her family and friends handle this life-changing situation.

In addition to the infidelity theme, other issues covered are: unplanned pregnancy, interracial dating, eating disorders, traditional school of thought about marriage versus the modern school of thought, breast cancer, domestic violence, choosing to become a single-parent, age difference in dating relationships, stay-at-home versus a working mother, body image and the obsession to remain youthful-looking.

All the issues are very well handled. The telenovela is very realistic.

After watching MIRADA DE MUJER, look for the telenovela, LA VIDA EN ESPEJO, which shows what a man goes through in the similar sort of circumstances. These are two very good novelas.

A Muralha
(2000)

A Vivid Historical Telenovela
À MURALHA (The Wall) first aired in Brazil to commemorate the country's 500-year anniversary. Based on a novel by Dinah Silveira de Queiroz, it is about Portugal's colonization of Brazil in the 18th century.

Stories of different characters include: A young Indian girl who is captured and enslaved, a Portuguese family living in Brazil, a young Portuguese girl who makes the rough journey to Brazil to marry the son of a Portuguese family, and a young Jewish girl running away from religious persecution but is forced to marry a fanatic to save her imprisoned father.

During the making of this telenovela, the director used real Indians (also known as Mestizos) as extras in order to make the scenes realistic. In addition to the topic about how the colonials adjusted to life in Brazil, the telenovela focuses on the injustices and treatment of the Mestizos, women, and Jews. It's a gripping story.

If you are interested in Brazil's history and have a strong stomach for certain graphic scenes (there's a lot of violence and abuse), this is a good novela to watch.

Las Juanas
(1997)

Delightful and offbeat telenovela
This Colombian telenovela (Spanish soap opera) is about five sisters - all named "Juana" (the English equivalent to the name would be "Joan") - Juana Valentina, Juana Bautista, Juana Manny, Juana Caridad and Juana Matilde. The sisters are products of extra-marital affairs that their father, Don Calisto, had with different women. As further proof of the sisters' connection, each girl has a birthmark in the shape of a fish on her buttock.

Each sister has a different personality. The first is feisty and a leader; the second is sports-like; the third is spiritual; the fourth is shy and caring; the last sister is lively and loves to dance and sing.

The presence of the sisters in the small town of Corazol, where their father lives, creates havoc. It also horrifies their father's wife (a high-society snob). She enlists the help of a relative, Manuel Effe, to try to run the sisters out of town. All their plans backfires, as the Juanas outsmart them everytime.

During all the funny drama, a strong attraction develops between the father's son, Ruben and his stepsister, Juana Valentina. Since they are supposed to be related they try to fight their forbidden feelings.

The theme of magic realism, a concept where unusual things suddenly seem normal, are a big part of this story. For example, one of the characters cries crystal tears.

LAS JUANAS (The Joans) was partly filmed on the Colombian coast, an area where author Gabriel Garcia Marquez based his popular book, "One Hundred Years of Solitude."

There's a lot to enjoy in this telenovela.

Las aguas mansas
(1994)

Still Waters Can Be Dangerous -- a very good story!
LAS AGUAS MANSAS (Still Waters) is another story of revenge that goes wrong, and the viewers are left to find out whether the lives of the characters will ever return to normal again. It is also the story of redemption and love.

When close brothers (Oscar, Juan and Franco) find their sister's body floating in a still portion of the river, they are shocked, hurt, and puzzled. Later, they discover that their sister had an affair with a married man and became pregnant. When her lover died, his wife humiliated the young girl. Distraught, ashamed and thinking that she had nowhere else to turn, the girl committed suicide.

The brothers vow revenge on the wife and the rest of her family. During their plan, the brothers become more entangled with their intended victims than they intend. Their plan for revenge goes out of their control.

The storyline, setting, costumes and social styles take place in Colombia in the 1940s. It is fascinating to watch. The actors give a solid performance in their roles. Each character is different and grows throughout the story. There are many mysteries in this Colombian novela; and it will keep you guessing as to what will happen next. If you like a good mystery story, you'll definitely enjoy this novela.

Café con aroma de mujer
(1993)

This has the scent of a good story!
CAFÉ CON AROMA DE MUJER (Coffee with the Scent of a Woman) is based on the book with the same title by Colombian author, Fernando Gaitan.

This Columbian novela is about Gaviota, a coffee field laborer and Sebastian Vallejo, the grandson of a powerful coffee businessman. When the two meet in a coffee plantation, they begin a passionate affair. They separate and eventually, Sebastian marries another woman. Gaviota decides to enter the mainly male-dominated coffee business empire. She succeeds as the first woman to work in this area. When Gaviota and Sebastian meet again, they find that their passion for each other never died. Their scenes are bittersweet, touching, romantic and humorous.

CAFÉ provides beautiful scenery as it is filmed in the areas of Quindio, Bogota, Santa Marta, San Andres, the Rosario Islands and other places in Colombia.

La dueña
(1995)

Never say "never," to love.
Beautiful and rich Regina Villareal becomes cold-hearted after her fiancé leaves her standing at the church altar. Heartbroken, she decides never to fall in love again.

Regina decides to forget her past and change her lifestyle. She moves to a cattle ranch owned by her family where she lives with her loving aunt and jealous cousin. As the owner of the ranch, Regina takes over the business of the ranch. Unknown to her, the ranch foreman mistreats the workers and commits murder. The foreman lets everyone believe that he is only following Regina's orders. As a result, everyone hates Regina except the hardworking and good-natured Jose Maria, owner of a nearby ranch. A strong attraction develops between them, but Regina suppresses her feelings by acting cold and distant.

Only time will tell whether Regina's heart will soften to find true happiness and love.

LA DUEÑA (The Owner) also has some very nice scenes of ranch life.

Carlos Daniel and Alejandro Orive wrote this Mexican telenovela. Ines Rodena wrote the original story.

Corazón salvaje
(1993)

This has become an all-time favorite for many viewers.
Born out of wedlock, society considers Juan a bastard. He has no social standing. Juan has no last name and people call him Juan del Diablo (from the Devil). Juan's father and mother were married to different people. The husband of Juan's mother raises him, but hates and mistreats the boy. Juan's upbringing and lifestyle portray him as a man with a 'savage heart.' He has no official last name, no prospects, and no real friends except for one man - the kind and wise Don Noel Mansera. This older man teaches Juan about loyalty, morals and true friendship.

Through a misunderstanding, Juan's stepbrother, a legitimate heir and aristocrat, swears to destroy him. Juan becomes involved with two sisters, Aimee and Monica. Both women have a lasting effect on him; one betrays him and the other shows him true love - she is able to captivate and soften his savage heart.

Filled with a wonderful story and memorable dialogue, CORAZÓN SALVAJE (Savage Heart) has become a classic novela with many fans.

Ángela
(1998)

Story of Misguided Revenge
This is a Mexican telenovela with a common theme often seen in many telenovelas - love and revenge. If you are a veteran viewer of these Spanish productions, you'll know that love and revenge do not mix easily. There are always struggles and disappointments on the part of the person seeking the revenge, but it makes for good entertainment.

Ángela and her mother (an unhappy and bitter person) live alone and take care of each other in a small seaside town. On her deathbed, Ángela's mother whispers the name of a woman who she says is responsible for destroying her marriage. Ángela decides to move to the town where the woman lives and make the woman's life miserable. However, she finds out that revenge can be a two-edged sword and nothing is as simple as it seems. The woman is not as evil as Ángela thinks. Ángela meets people in the new town and the woman's daughter. She falls in love with one of the townsmen. Soon Ángela has to decide whether to continue with her plan of revenge or give it up for true happiness.

ÁNGELA is full of mystery and surprises. In addition to the main character, the actions of the secondary characters will keep you watching.

La mentira
(1998)

It is not good to tell a lie!
***SPOILERS*** ***SPOILERS*** After a long absence, studying and living in Europe, Demetrio returns home to his family's tequila plantation in a remote part of Mexico. He looks forward to a reunion with his brother, Ricardo.

Instead, Demetrio finds that Ricardo has committed suicide. Demetrio finds, in his brother's possession, a piece of woman's jewelry - a broach - that's shaped in the letter "V." He also finds a letter addressed to Ricardo from a mysterious woman. It states that she doesn't love Ricardo; she has spent all his money, and aborted his baby. Obviously, this is why Ricardo committed suicide.

Demetrio sets out to find the woman and avenge his brother's death. His search leads him to two young women Veronica (kind-hearted and loving) and Virginia (sneaky and hateful) living in Mexico City. Demetrio decides that it is Veronica who is the mysterious woman who caused his brother's death. In fact, it is Virginia. From there on, he sets his plan of revenge in motion. This is the beginning of LA MENTIRA (The Lie). It is a destructive lie.

Demetrio plans to marry Veronica and then make her life miserable. He lies about his identity and in a cold-hearted manner courts Veronica until she falls in love with him. There is one thing that Demetrio does not plan - he falls in love with Veronica. Demetrio struggles with his feelings for the woman who he thinks is responsible for his brother's death and his vow for revenge. The story becomes more interesting when Demetrio discovers that he is wrong?

A subplot of a drug addiction exists in the story. Although an important social issue, the topic doesn't fit well in LA MENTIRA. It becomes boring to watch. Very boring.

The cast is good, but the best part of the story is watching the raw emotion and attraction that flies off the screen between Demetrio (Guy Ecker) and Veronica (Kate del Castillo). It's a real pleasure to watch these two together. Their performance radiates passion and energy.

O Clone
(2001)

An enticing story!
What do you get when you mix the story of two young lovers and the making of a human clone? You get an interesting story by way of a Brazilian telenovela (soap opera) called O CLONE (The Clone).

Known for incorporating social issues into her stories, Glória Perez includes the following topics in her latest telenovela: Drug addiction, Middle Eastern culture (Muslim lifestyle), and science fiction (human cloning). Given the current news headlines of cloning and the Middle East, the telenovela becomes even more important and gives cause for discussion after viewing each episode.

O CLONE takes the viewer to two striking locations - modern-day Brazil and Morocco. The two main characters are introduced - Jade, a headstrong Muslim girl from Morocco and Lucas, a docile, daydreamer from Brazil with a Catholic religious background. The two meet and fall in love. The problem is that their different cultures make it difficult for a union between them. Jade's family has chosen a family for her, and Lucas's family is reluctant for him to marry a foreigner. In addition to their story, a scientist creates a human clone after a loved one prematurely dies. This clone later becomes an important part of the lives of Jade and Lucas.

The viewer gets a chance to see a Muslim household and what goes on there. Some of the scenes may be a bit exaggerated since the storytellers use poetic license to make the story more dramatic. However, the scenes can be used to open up a dialogue of discussion about a culture that may not be known or understood by many in the west. Despite the differences between the cultures - Christian and Muslim, it becomes clear that there are many similarities such as one's love of family and the desire to find happiness.

Veteran novela director, Jayme Monjardim and his team have produced an outstanding product with O CLONE. His handiwork shows beautiful close-ups of the actors and enchanting shots of the land and cityscape of Morocco and Brazil. He skillfully captures both places.

The lead actress, Giovanna Antonelli (Jade), gives a believable presentation as the Muslim girl, torn between following her true heart's desire and the dictates of her family to marry the man chosen for her. Lead actor, Murilo Benício (Lucas) also gives a winning performance as the young man who has fallen in love with a girl from a different society who his family will not accept. Benício plays three different roles - twins and the clone. Each character is different and convincing.

The rest of the cast also gives strong performances. This includes Stênio Garcia as Uncle Ali, Elaine Giardini as Nazira, Daniela Escobar as Maysa, Vera Fischer as Yvette, Reginaldo Farias as Leônidas, Letícia Sabatella as Latiffa, Dalton Vigh as Said, Antonio Calloni as Mohamed, Adriana Lessa as Deusa, and Jandira Martini as Zoraide. Actually the cast list goes on I'm sure you get the idea. All the actors are good.

O CLONE captured the attention of over 18 million viewers in Brazil. The telenovela successfully took hold of the American T.V. audience, as well. Brazilian telenovelas shown in the U.S. are usually dubbed into Spanish. For the first time in the history of telenovelas shown in the U.S., English sub-titles (closed caption) have been included. Now, non-Spanish speakers have a chance to enjoy the story as well.

In addition to an arresting and sometimes controversial storyline, the telenovela has a fun music soundtrack full of Brazilian and Middle Eastern music. Thanks to musical director, Marcus Viana, the music adds to the success of the novela as a whole.

O CLONE is one of those telenovelas that doesn't waste your time. I highly recommend this Brazilian soap opera for your viewing pleasure.

Las cartas de Alou
(1990)

Positive letters!
LAS CARTAS DE ALOU (Letters from Alou) is a well-written and well-acted story about a young African man's life as an illegal immigrant in Spain.

Alou arrives in Spain without the proper papers and without a penny to his name. He is, however, rich in hope and perseverance. Soon, Alou finds work; it is the kind of work that only illegal immigrants can get. He learns to survive in a different culture and he learns to deal with discrimination. First Alou has to learn to speak Spanish, and then he learns how to navigate himself around the new land without being caught by the police or cheated by others. Alou makes friends; they are mainly other illegal aliens who survive by helping each other out. He also finds romance with a Spanish girl.

As Alou struggles to make a living, he writes positive letters to his parents at home about his new life in Spain. LAS CARTAS DE ALOU can be the story of many faceless and nameless illegal immigrants in any country.

Pantanal
(1990)

Superb Story in Striking Location!
PANTANAL is the story of a father and son and their relationship with each other. It is also about the women that the men love. Finally, PANTANAL is the story of the characters' connection and their sense of belonging with their natural environment. The tale spans two generations.

José Leôncio is a prosperous landowner in the Pantanal region of Brazil (the world's largest wetland). One day, he travels to Rio de Janeiro for a business trip. There, José Leôncio meets beautiful, sophisticated, city girl, Madeleine. They have different tastes and personalities, but like the saying, "Opposites Attract!"

The two quickly fall in love, marry and move to José Leôncio's remote farmland. It is located amidst a floodplain area, which is full of beauty, life, danger and death. The land is full of myths. There is a legend about a poisonous snake that takes the shape of a man. Another myth exists about someone called the Old Man of the Swamps.

José Leôncio and Madeleine have a son called Joventino (Jove). However, Madeleine soon becomes disenchanted with country life. She longs to return to the city. The new wife and mother abandons her husband and returns to the city with her son. With the law on the Madeleine's side, José Leôncio is unable to take his son back with him to the countryside. Many years will pass before father and son are reunited.

Madeleine, her sister and mother raise young Joventino in the city. Despite their spoiling ways of raising him, Joventino turns out to be nice, talented, strong-willed and intelligent. When he reaches an adult age, Joventino decides to meet his father. It is time for them to learn about each other.

It is also time for Joventino to learn about himself and the land of which he is a part. There, Joventino meets Juma, a young woman as intriguing, beautiful and wild as the Pantanal region. Like his mother and father before him, Joventino and Juma are as different as night and day. Yet, there is an attraction that pulls them together. The story continues..

PANTANAL is a beautifully written story, which holds your attention. It is full of other appealing characters and the role that they play in the lives of the father, son and the land on which they live. The location area is mesmerizing and the music is charming. The story takes you to a different and special place - the Brazilian Pantanal.

Yo soy Betty, la fea
(1999)

Very funny, Very Sad, and Very Real – A Unique telenovela!
Fernando Gaitan wrote this Colombian novela, YO SOY BETTY LA FEA (I am Betty the Ugly). It stars leading actors, Ana Maria Orozco as Betty the Ugly, Jorge Enrique Abello as Armando Mendoza, her love interest, and a fine cast.

The story is about Betty, an intelligent but unattractive woman, who is unable to find a job mainly because of her looks. She finally finds a lower level position as a secretary to the president of a fashion company.

During her time at the fashion company, Betty works her way from the position as a secretary to an assistant. Later, she becomes the secret owner of the company. In the mean time, Betty is teased and taunted by other staff members. She makes friends with a group of office workers called the Cartel de Feas (The Ugly Women's Group). Gradually, with the help of a friend, Betty's self-confidence and physical appearance improves.

When the company is in serious trouble, Betty is able to rescue the business from failure. Betty helps the company staff and she also falls in love with the young handsome president, Armando, who never notices her. Eventually Betty's smart mind, good heart, character and loyalty catch Armando's attention. Despite Betty's homely appearance, he eventually falls in love with her. However, Armando's affection may come too late for Betty. His previous insensitive actions badly hurt her. Will Betty become successful in her love and professional life? That's for the viewers to find out!

Over 80 million viewers from Colombia and 21 other countries, including the U.S., have enjoyed this ethical story about how courage, inner beauty and brainpower can conquer others' perception of physical looks. BETTY LA FEA is told in such a witty, comical, and sometimes serious manner that you'll find yourself vigorously supporting the heroine, laughing, crying, and shouting at the television screen when you watch it.

El hijo de la novia
(2001)

Take some time to relax, smell the roses and enjoy this movie!
In this day and age, we are so busy with work; we are so wrapped up with inner turmoil that sometimes we forget to pay attention to the important things in life - family, friends and loved ones. This is what happens in El Hijo de la Novia (Son of the Bride).

Rafael Belvedere (actor Ricardo Darín) is very busy and successful with his job (a restaurant business inherited from his parents). The problem is that he is not successful with his personal relationships. Divorced, Rafael doesn't have a good relationship with his ex wife; he doesn't give his full attention to his pre-teen daughter; he doesn't seem to fully appreciate his younger girlfriend; his mother is suffering from Alzeihemer's disease and has been placed in a nursing home - Rafael hasn't visited her in a year; his father has a plan to re-marry his mother in a church ceremony (they only had a civil ceremony), but Rafael is unsupportive of the idea.

Rafael keeps up a frantic lifestyle till one day, he suffers from a heart attack, and then everything changes for him. He has a chance to rethink his life - his relationships and his achievements. Most important of all, his experience brings him closer to his mother, with who he had a falling out before her illness.

The story in El Hijo de al Novia is well told and well acted as we watch Rafael find true meaning in his life and make everything right with his friends and family. The cast members all do a wonderful job with their parts. The movie is a comedy/drama that is fast-moving and smart. You laugh, shed a tear (or at least your eyes will water) and then laugh again. The film handles the serious issue of Alzheimer's very well. There is humor, dignity and no self-pity. Like Rafael, we should all take some time to smell the roses, relax and think about what is truly important in life to us.

Keita! L'héritage du griot
(1995)

A film that entertains and teaches well!
It is an ordinary afternoon for young Mabo Keïta, at home, in Burkina Faso (West Africa). While his parents are taking a nap, he reads a schoolbook on the front porch when a stranger - an elderly man carrying his own hammock - appears for an unexpected visit. It turns out that the old man is a griot, a West African musician/entertainer whose performances include tribal histories and genealogies. The position of a griot is a time-honored one and passed down from father to son for many generations.

The griot announces that he's on a mission and has arrived to teach young Mabo about his history. Mabo is curious and eager to learn about his past, and soon his interest in schoolwork diminishes. As a result, a disagreement arises between his parents. Mabo's mother thinks that a griot's work is no longer important. She and his teacher don't want the griot's lessons interfering with Mabo's schoolwork. On the other hand, the boy's father doesn't want to deny his son the tradition of lessons from the griot - after all, they've been an important part of his family for generations. There is a conflict between modern and traditional ideas.

Writer and director, Dani Kouyaté comes from a long line of griots in his family. His father, Sotigui Kouyaté, a real life griot, plays the griot in the movie. Perhaps, for that reason, Kouyaté is successful in transferring the art of oral storytelling to the movie screen. Through the griot and young boy, the Sundjata epic, set in early 13th century, is retold in the film. It is about a man who turned his nation (the Mande people) into the great Malian trading empire (in West Africa). It's a riveting story full of magic realism.

The lessons of Keita: The Heritage of the Griot - traditional versus modern (Western) views and the fact that our history plays an important to our lives - not only applies to the African culture, but it all cultures. "It's an old world and the future emerges from the past," the griot tells Mabo.

This is one of my all-time favorite movies - the setting, music and actors tell the story very well. I highly recommend it to one and all - young and old.

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