DIRECTED BY: João Pedro Rodrigues
FEATURING: Fernando Santos, Alexander David, Gonçalo Ferreira de Almeida, Chandra Malatitch
PLOT: A conflicted pre-op transsexual drag queen lives with a suicidal junkie.
WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: I originally wrote: “it’s in the weird ballpark, but Man would need radical surgery to become the poignantly bizarre gender fairy tale it dreams of being.” As discussed in the comments below, the version of the film I saw was not the version the director intended; but, the film I watched wasn’t quite strange enough to make it onto the List, and restoring the author’s vision would only make it less weird.
COMMENTS: Funny story. It turns out that To Die Like a Man isn’t nearly as annoying as I thought it was. One of the first notes I jotted down in my initial viewing of the film read “telepathic commandos?” This is because the film opens with a scene of two men in camouflage in the woods staking out a house occupied by two men in drag. The soldiers speak to each other and their lips move, but there’s no sound; we read their conversation in subtitles. It seemed like a curiously weird way to start the film, but the silent dialogue continued through the film’s entire two-hour plus running time; we can hear sounds in the background, we can hear it when characters sing or sob, but when they speak—nothing. Although we’re accustomed to reading titles in foreign or silent movies, to hear birds singing and leaves rustling, see an actor’s lips moving, and yet be banned from hearing their words proves far more frustrating and irritating than you would think. It robs the actors of half their expressiveness and inhibits our bonding with their characters.
I assumed the silence was an alienating technique designed to put us inside the estranged worldview of Tonia, the confused pre-op protagonist. But, it turns out there was a simpler explanation for the motif that I hadn’t thought of. As it turns out, someone botched the preparation of the digital version I saw via Netflix’s streaming service so that the dialogue track was completely missing. Oops. For that reason, I can’t really give To Die Like a Man a Continue reading CAPSULE: TO DIE LIKE A MAN [MORRER COMO UM HOMEM] (2009)