Great Carnivals of Joãosinho Trinta

Poster for a documentary about Joãosinho, where he is portraied by Vik Muniz
Poster for a documentary about Joãosinho, where he is portraied by Vik Muniz

Joãosinho Trinta, the former ballet dancer who reinvented Rio’s Carnival, incorporating luxurious elements and extreme creativity to the popular parade, died today. Controversial, he was frequently criticized by traditional sambistas, that felt that his huge, elaborate carnival floats and the use of some extreme resources, like individual flying machines, would hide the talent of dancers and musicians.

These three videos show Joãosinho Trinta at his best, leading escolas de samba Beija-Flor de Nilópolis and Viradouro to multiple Carnival awards. (And sorry – I was very unimpressed by the quality of the footages available on the web.) Continue reading Great Carnivals of Joãosinho Trinta

Pearls of Brazilian humor

MillorBrazil has its own share of great aphorisms, those witty, funny, sometimes mean little phrases that prove human nature is not kind, but still quite ingenious.

Here is a small selection for your delight. Please, feel free to suggest better translations.

Vinícius de Moraes (poet, Bossa Nova composer, diplomat) – Whisky is the man’s best friend. It’s a bottled dog / O uísque é o melhor amigo do homem. É o cachorro engarrafado.

Stanislaw Ponte Preta –  Among the three best things in life, the second is eating and the first is sleeping / Das três melhores coisas da vida, a segunda é comer, a primeira é dormir.

The prosperity of some Brazilian public men is evident proof that they fight for the progress of our under development / A prosperidade de alguns homens públicos brasileiros é uma prova evidente de que eles vêm lutando pelo progresso de nosso subdesenvolvimento.

Esperanto is a universal language that is spoken nowhere / Esperanto é a língua universal que não se fala em lugar nenhum.

The Sun raises for everybody. Shade only for the smart. / O Sol nasce para todos. A sombra para quem é mais esperto.

Max Nunes – Men would lie way less if women asked less questions. / Os homens mentiriam muito menos se as mulheres fizessem menos perguntas.

Carlito Maia – Brazil? Fraud explains. / Brasil? Fraude explica.

Jô Soares (humorist, stand up pioneer, writer and TV show host) – A medical committee is a meeting organized by  doctors in the last moments of our lives to decide on how do share the blame. / Junta médica é uma reunião que os médicos fazem nos últimos momentos da nossa vida para dividir a culpa.

He was such an evil boy that he only became a radiologist because he wanted to see other people’s skulls. / Era um menino tão mau que só se tornou radiologista para ver a caveira dos outros.

Barão de Itararé – A poor man only eat chicken when one of them is sick. / Pobre só come galinha quando um dos dois está doente.

It is not sad to change ones mind. What is sad it’not having a mind to change. / Não  é triste mudar de idéia. Triste é não ter idéias para mudar.

Millôr Fernandes – Quem se mata de trabalhar merece mesmo morrer.

Democracia é quando eu mando em você. Ditadura é quando você manda em mim.

Quem mata o tempo não é assassino, é suicida.

Tim Maia – Comecei uma dieta: cortei a bebida e as comidas pesadas e em quatorze dias perdi duas semanas.

Carlos Drummond de Andrade – A minha vontade é forte, mas a minha disposição de obedecer-lhe é fraca.

Nelson Rodrigues – O marido não deve ser o último a saber. Ele não deve saber nunca.

Amazing footage of Rio in the 30s, the 40s, the 50s…

Carnaval de rua


You may question the narration and its predictable cliches and prejudices, but these historic footages are true gems. Tough to choose a favorite (ok, if you insist, the 1932’s and the 1955’s are the best).

1932 – Includes a pretty disgusting scene where the narrator mentions the “infinite variety of tropical animals” found downtown, while the camera closes on a cute little Black girl. Also to be noted the comment that carioca’s resent the monopoly of the word Americans by those born in the States. Pay attention also on the explanation about the “butterfly industries” and the ornamental black and white stone pavements.

Continue reading Amazing footage of Rio in the 30s, the 40s, the 50s…

Unexpected duos

Caetano Veloso and Odair José in 1973

What happens when you mix artists with very different musical backgrounds?  Some are outraged, but most are smitten. Let’s see how you will react to these three videos:

  • Toquinho (Vinícius de Moraes main musical partner and a big icon of Brazilian music) and two of the country’s lead heavy metal guitar players, Andreas Kisser, from Sepultura, and Kiko Loureiro, from Angra:

  • This partnership of the very kitsch Odair José with international star Caetano Veloso was pretty scandalous in 1973. They sing Odair’s “Vou tirar você deste lugar“, a musical reference for those who date prostitutes and promise to come riding a white horse to rescue them.

  • Finally, two huge voices, “classic” Nelson Gonçalves and iconoclastic soul man Tim Maia:

Do you have any additions to this list?

Bündchen, Wonder Woman and a Masp’s favela: mirages in São Paulo

Gorgeous Gisele, indeed

No exaggeration: São Paulo holds more surprises than Batman’s utility belt. Just spent a few days in town that never rests, camera in hand.

First, bumped totally by chance into top model/billionaire Gisele Bündchen at an improvised catwalk at Iguatemy Mall. I have been around presidents, prime ministers and princesses, but few times I saw a similar security apparatus.

Continue reading Bündchen, Wonder Woman and a Masp’s favela: mirages in São Paulo

Tragicomic film translations

a mulher que morreu duas vezes“Vertigo”, the Hitchcock masterpiece with James Stuart and Kim Novak, had its title translated as “A Mulher que Viveu Duas Vezes” (The Woman that Lived Twice) in Portugal – a massive, humongous spoiler. Also, I heard more than once that Portuguese christened “Psycho”, another Hitchcock’s, as “O Assassino era a Mãe” (The Killer was the Mother), an even worse spoiler, but I suspect this one is pure urban legend.

Ah, the bizarre mistranslations cinephiles have to endure!  These are my two favorites:

  • At some point, in the Spanish version o “Pixote”, the 1980s Brazilian classic about homeless kids, someone says that one of the children’s mom lives “en la sombrereria” (a literal translation of “na casa do chapéu“, an expression that means “really, really far away” in Portuguese). So, the translator understood that the lady lived in a hat shop. Later, in the same movie, a transvestite boy asks the main character if he thinks they might have a better future. In the original, Pixote says, no, we are doomed, while in the subtitles he says something like: “sure, Lilica, I am sure we will have a bright future”. This one was certainly a volontary mistranslation that intended to give the scene a more cheerful tone.
  • In the Brazilian translation of “Au Revoir les Enfants”, by Louis Malle, a war story where a Jewish boy hides in a French boarding school, another kid offers him a ham sandwich which the Jewish boy refuses. “Jambon” (ham in French) was translated as “geléia” (jam), destroying the logic of the scene. Continue reading Tragicomic film translations

Brazilian batucada around the world

Batucada in Paris. Photo by Melanie M/ Flickr
Batucada in Paris. Photo by Melanie M/ Flickr

Batucada, the joyful, noisy, fast pace percussive ensemble, capable of speeding up one’s pulse, is gaining the world. You can watch performances of local batuqueiros from Birmingham to Singapore. Check here how very different cultures interpret this African Brazilian tradition.

in Kobe, Japan (Bloco Feijão Preto)

Continue reading Brazilian batucada around the world

Study reveals the personality of Brazilian soccer teams

Flamengo's blazon by George Vale/Flickr
Flamengo’s blazon by George Vale/Flickr

If the main Brazilian soccer teams were people, Corinthians and Flamengo would be a brave and joyful youngster, while Botafogo and São Paulo would be reliable, polite, sophisticated middle aged men.

GfK, an important market research specialist, interviewed 1.000 Brazilians in 12 major cities for the study “Patrocínio de Futebol e Personalidade de Marca” (Soccer Sponsors and Brand Personality). They had to associate a list of qualities to the name of the main 11 teams – Atlético Mineiro, Botafogo, Corinthians, Cruzeiro, Flamengo, Fluminense, Grêmio, Internacional, Palmeiras, Santos, São Paulo and Vasco. They were supposed to describe both the teams they supported and others. Continue reading Study reveals the personality of Brazilian soccer teams

Dzi Croquettes – Rio’s revolutionary cabaret

936full-dzi-croquettes-poster “Not men, not women. People”, was their revolutionary motto. They were the Dzi Croquettes, an irreverent androgynous theater company directed by Broadway chorus line dancer Lennie Dale that defied the dictatorship and inspired a whole generation of carioca artists. The so-called besteirol theatre (anarchic, hilarious and politically incorrect) and several slang words and expressions ( Tá boa, santa?) are remnants of their influence.

They became so popular that their performances were finally forbidden, and they decided to tour Europe, where they conquered Paris and even appeared in a Claude Lelouch’s movie. “When I die, I want my show substituted by the Dzi Croquettes”, said legendary diva Josephine Baker. Continue reading Dzi Croquettes – Rio’s revolutionary cabaret

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