Cinema, Aspirins and Vultures | Chicago Reader

Cinema, Aspirins and Vultures

Marcelo Gomes, who cowrote Madame Sata, makes his feature directing debut with this rambling, low-key Brazilian drama (2004). A young German avoids serving in World War II by touring the bleached Brazilian outback as a traveling salesman, and after he picks up a hitchhiker bound for Rio de Janeiro the two men gradually become friends. The salesman peddles aspirin to the natives, and as he shows them 16-millimeter films about its curative power, cinema becomes a metaphor for both drugs and dreams: in one particularly vivid image the dirt-poor hitchhiker thrusts his hand in front of the lens and, for a moment, holds the world in his palm. The leads are attractive, the dialogue minimal, and the mood downbeat—the title scavengers seem to portend the death of not any one character but civilization itself. In Portuguese with subtitles. 101 min.

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