Thursday, April 4, 2019

DVD/streaming debut for João Moreira Salles' IN THE INTENSE NOW, a quiet yet rhapsodic look at revolution, politics, marketing, culture and home movies

It's hard to describe the spell cast by IN THE INTENSE NOW (No Intenso Agora), the 2017 documentary by João Moreira Salles that had its U.S theatrical debut a few months ago and hit DVD and streaming this week.

Although the film deals primarily with the students' and workers' revolution in France back in 1968, it also expands its view to the ill-fated Prague Spring of the same year, and other sort-of revolutions of similar hope, at the same time detailing bits and pieces of the filmmaker's own mother's trip to China and then to Japan -- and what these excursions meant to her.

If this sounds a bit all-over-the-place, the film actually coheres quite beautifully, thanks to Salles' visuals and narration -- the filmmaker, shown at right, who both wrote and directed the documentary, is brother of another noted Brazilian movie-maker, Walter Salles (of Central Station) --  which combine to create a kind of poetry, as well as yet another version of "people's history" (as opposed to what you'll find in most school textbooks).

Though often dealing with violence, trauma and intensity, the movie's overall tone is one of quiet intelligence and thoughtful conclusions, while offering some extraordinary (often actually conflicting) views about events that those of us old enough to remember may find troubling and/or surprising.

Salles is especially good at demonstrating the ways in which politicians, media and ad men can turn just about everything and anything into marketing. Yet he does this in such quiet tones and humble demeanor that, instead of becoming at all hostile to his words and pictures, you'll likely stop, think, and then agree.

The film is full of "home movies" taken at the time of the events that are not what most of us actually saw at the time. Early on Salles tells us that home movies often show us so much more than the filmmaker may have intended, and then proceeds to some fine examples of this, one after another.

My favorite scene in the film (perhaps Salles' too, since he comes back to a still shot of this at his finale) is of a young woman (above) working in the office of the demonstrators during the French upheaval. She is trying her best to allay the fears of the mother of one of the demonstrators who did not come home the preceding night. It's one of the loveliest and most different scenes of this sort I've ever viewed, showing the human side of a would-be revolution in all its glory.

There is so much to see, hear and experience in this 127-minute documentary that I hope you will available yourself of the opportunity. In the Intense Now, from Icarus Films, hit the street on DVD and streaming (via Amazon and iTunes) this past Tuesday, April 2.

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