Indie Doubleheader is a new feature we're trying out, where I will give fest-length reviews to notable indie films playing the fest circuit. If you're a filmmaker with a film you'd like me to consider for this column, or a film lover who's seen a film you loved and you'd like to see us cover, drop me a line at kim (at) cinematical (dot) com.
Manda Bala (Send a Bullet)
What do corrupt politicians,
tree bull frogs, plastic surgery and kidnapping have in common? In Manda Bala (Send a Bullet), director Jason Kohn skillfully weaves these seemingly disparate elements together into a cohesive tale of power and corruption, poverty and wealth in Sao Paulo, the capitol of the state of Sao Paulo. Opening on a money-laundering tree farm, Kohn sets the tone of the film early with some beautiful cinematography and a riveting, unobstrusive score.
At its heart, Manda Bala is a tale about money and power. The disparity between the very rich and the very poor is marked in the bigger cities of Brazil, where the wealthy live in fantastic mansions and high-rises that overlook Brazil's favelas -- thousands of rickety shacks of cardboard and metal sheeting, where millions of poor Brazilian's struggle to survive amid crushing poverty and brutal living conditions. In Sao Paulo, the kidnapping of wealthy civilians for ransom has become a huge problem the police force is ill-equipped to resolve.