Friday, September 19, 2008
Who should star in in Walter Salles' 'On the Road'?
LONDON, England -- This week, I had the luck to meet Brazilian filmmaker and one of the leaders of the revival in fortunes of Latin American film, Walter Salles, who was in London promoting his latest film "Linha de Passe," which he co-directed with Daniela Thomas.
Set in Sao Paulo, the film is a beautiful, if bleak story of four brothers from four different fathers and their pregnant, chain-smoking, heavy-drinking mother. They are part of Brazil's vast underclass and are -- in their own ways -- all struggling to beat destiny and forge a different, better future for themselves.
What's really interesting about this film in the context of Brazilian filmmaking right now is that it refuses to glamorize the violence of favela life in the way that films such as "City of God" and this year's "Elite Squad" could be said to.
Instead of super-saturated colors and jerky editing, "Linha de Passe" takes a more meditative turn with Salles focusing on the lives and characters of these five people. The grey skies and washed-out palette complement the seemingly hopeless social obstacles they face every day.
I met Salles in Covent Garden and he told me how much he loves London because he gets a chance to see friends, like composer Philip Glass, who he had breakfast with before we met.
Salles struggled through his jetlag saying: "Making a film is like running 1,800 meters and launching a film is like running a marathon." He was completely charming and talked extensively about "Linha de Passe," as well as his upcoming adaptation of Jack Kerouac's cult 50s novel, "On the Road" with Francis Ford Coppola, off the back of his success adapting Che Guevara's early journal in the "The Motorcycle Diaries."
I asked him about the difficulties of adapting such a cult novel and if he's confident he can satisfy the book's dedicated fans.
"That is the same question I had to ask myself when I adapted 'The Motorcycle Diaries,'" he said, "Because obviously there were so many followers of Ernesto Guevara ... and [I tried] to do it in the most authentic manner, and try to be as faithful to the essence of the book as I could, so this is what I will try to bring to 'On The Road.'"
He wasn't giving away much about who he has in mind to play the two lead roles in the film. When I asked him if he had any ideas, in the collaborative way that has made him such a star of Latin cinema, he said, "Not yet, you wanna help me?"
So let's lend Salles a hand: Who do you think should play Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty in "On the Road"?
Linha de Passe is out in UK cinemas now.
-- From CNN's Mairi Mackay
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