I have no idea how to rate this film.

Brazil (R)
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This came out in 1985, but I didn't see it until 2021. It is a cult classic and widely considered to be among the greatest films ever made (or at least the greatest British films). In the U.S., a shorter cut of the film was released, against the wishes of writer/director Terry Gilliam. I didn't see that version, but rather the director's cut, so I have no idea what differences there are between the two versions. Did I enjoy watching it? Not particularly. But, do I think it was good? I have no fucking clue. It was all just too bizarre for me to really get a handle on it. But I certainly wouldn't say it was bad. Also I wanted to mention that it's set over several days during Christmastime, which seems to have little if any bearing on the story.

How to describe the plot? Well, there's a man named Sam Lowry, who works for the Ministry of Information, in the Records Department. He seems to be highly competent at his job there, and is often called on to help his boss, Mr. Kurtzmann, who seems less competent. Early on in the movie, he's offered a promotion to another department of the Ministry, called Information Retrieval. This has been arranged by his wealthy mother, Ida (Katherine Helmond), and an old friend of his father's named Mr. Helpmann, who is Deputy Minister of Information. However, Sam declines the promotion, preferring to stay at his current job. I also need to mention that he dreams of flying with some kind of mechanical wings that put me in mind of Falcon from the Marvel comics (or the Marvel Cinematic Universe). There's a woman floating in the air in his dreams with whom he is in love, but it seems he can never quite reach her. Then one day Mr. Kurtzmann calls him in to deal with a refund check he's supposed to send to Archibald Buttle, who had been mistakenly arrested and interrogated by the Ministry, mistaking him for a suspected terrorist named Archibald Tuttle. (One is required to pay for the cost of one's own arrest and interrogation.) But Buttle died due to the interrogation, so now Sam decides to personally bring the check to his widow. While at her apartment, he gets a glimpse of her upstairs neighbor, Jill Layton, who looks like the woman in his dreams (except with much shorter hair). After that, Sam becomes obsessed with meeting her, but he can't find out any information about her. (Why he didn't just stake out her apartment and wait for her to come home, I have no idea.) Anyway, he could get information about her if he took the job in Information Retrieval, so he does so. And eventually he finds her, quite by accident, while she's at the Ministry trying to get information about Buttle, whose disappearance greatly concerned her. (I guess she's a pretty good neighbor.)

Lots of other stuff happens in the movie, which I mostly don't want to get into. But Sam meets Tuttle, who is played by Robert De Niro, though I completely failed to recognize him. I also failed to recognize Bob Hoskins as a repairman. Anyway, the movie is set in a dystopian society with greatly excessive bureaucracy. The film serves as a satirical indictment of such governments, and is apparently an exaggerated version of the real bureaucracy Gilliam had to deal with. Sam's dreams are at times symbolic of escaping the troubles of the real world, and at other times are more nightmarish. In fact there are times when it's hard to tell whether Sam is dreaming or awake. And I don't know what else to say. I failed to derive any great meaning from the film, aside from bureaucracy and authoritarianism being bad. Which is common enough, for dystopian stories, but this particular story felt rather muddled, to me. (Which is probably my fault for not really "getting it".) Still, I'm quite glad to have finally seen the movie.

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