Friday, June 17, 2011

Cine Fest Brasil NY ’11: Boca

A vice-lord of the notorious Boca do Lixo district in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, Hiroito de Moraes Joanides never had a chance to see Pacino’s Scarface. If he had, he might have understood how bad it is to become one of your own best customers. Indeed, his indulgences lead directly to his downfall in Flavio Frederico’s gangster drama Boca, which screens again tomorrow night during Inffinito’s 2011 Cine Fest Brasil in New York.

More or less based on the memoirs of the late gangster known to many as just plain Hiroito (like “Prince” or “Cher”), Boca chronicles his ruthless rise and chaotic fall. Drugs are most definitely involved, but he started out on the management side of the prostitution business. That is how he meets his wife Aleíde, a new street-walker in São Paulo, who nails her interview with the so-called “King of Boca do Lixo.”

While he looks somewhat like Clark Kent, Hiroito has a real psychotic streak, which his burgeoning drug habit hardly moderates. However, Aleíde displays more gumption than one would expect from the wife of the Brazilian Jacques Mesrine. This will not be a happy marriage, nor will there be peace in the Boca district, with Hiroito picking fights he really should avoid. It is all good clean gangster movie fun though, with a touch of Hunter S. Thompson thrown in for good measure.

Daniel de Oliveira might be intense and charismatic, but he is still something of a cold fish as Hiroito, coming across more serpentine than Mephistophelean. Conversely, Hermila Guedes exceeds expectations, investing Aleíde with genuine grit and sensuality. Yet, like any good gangland saga, the real charm of Boca is its many colorful supporting turns, including Milhem Cortaz as the duplicitous meathead Osmar and Jefferson Brasil as Hiroito’s stone cold rival Nelsinho.

Boca has verve and style in abundance, delivering the dirty deeds in a well crafted period production. Highly entertaining, Boca is one of the best selections of this year’s Inffinito’s festival in New York. It screens again tomorrow (6/18) at the Tribeca Cinemas.