Triste tropico | Chicago Reader

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What little has been written about Arthur Omar's 1973 Brazilian film suggests that it's a parody of ethnographic documentaries—a notion reinforced by the title, which is taken from a book by Claude Levi-Strauss. But the film is nuttier, more fascinating, and far more surreal than any mere parody. It concerns a fictional doctor who's said to have hung out with the surrealist painters in Paris before establishing a weird occult empire in the Amazon, but the narration's claims about his exploits are wildly implausible, and the story line is intercut with scenes from a present-day carnival, the crazed, feverish tone obliterating historical time. Also showing is Should I Kill Them? (1983), Sergio Biachi's short about threats to the survival of Brazil's Indians.

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