Bang Bang | Chicago Reader

Bang Bang

This endearingly crazy 1971 Brazilian film defies classification: its Portuguese title (Bangue bangue) refers to films we'd probably call “shoot-'em-ups,” director Andrea Tonacci called it a “Maoist detective comedy,” yet American audiences would probably consider it an experimental film. The anonymous urban protagonist experiences a series of absurd situations—including a crazy cab ride, an encounter with a wacky criminal gang, and lots of gunplay—but they're stripped of any story that might explain them and infused with a unique anarchic energy, eventually suggesting our true animal nature. As with Godard, it's partly an homage to genre filmmaking (there's singing and dancing, a little sex, and lots of violence), but what really powers the film is Tonacci's inventive camera. Working with a low budget, he choreographs a number of long takes that impart a scary authenticity to the action by confining it to a single space and time: in the opening shot, the protagonist argues with the cabdriver while the city goes by through the front windshield, and in other shots the camera remains static while characters move between the foreground and background. Throughout the film, the deep space of the image momentarily convinces the viewer, in a manner akin to surrealist painting, that the world really has gone mad.


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