The Amulet of Ogum | Chicago Reader

The Amulet of Ogum

Nelson Pereira dos Santos, one of the charter members of Cinema Novo, turns exploitive in this 1975 feature, which mixes elements of social and magical realism. Charting the rise of a young man in a suburban Rio gang who's rendered bulletproof by a pendant he wears, the film meanders once he's drawn into a brutal war with a mob boss jealous of his powers. Pereira dos Santos, who can be bitingly sardonic about the status quo (How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman), seems bent on using cinematic devices that can be easily grasped by the Brazilian masses, from dizzy zooms to violent fistfights to maniacally macho dialogue. The long sequences of Afro-Brazilian cleansing rituals offer some relief from all the barely coherent, over-the-top action.

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