Diegues was a founding member of the Cinema Nvo movement, whose motto, "An idea in your head and a camera in hand," perfectly captures the group's mix of political critique and playful approach to the medium of film. The sights and sounds of slums and open squares flood The Big City as Diegues employs a full battery of nouvelle vague tricks (sudden overhead shots, freeze frames, overexposure, sarcastically deployed music) to tell his tale and score points against Rio's Europeanized elite, who employ Rocha as a maid. The buoyant Calunga too is sucked into the romantic melodrama, and his final fate is more disturbing than that of the doomed couple: Movie romance is no match for wily government operatives and fascist boyfriends. The Big City is a choice example of the many Cinema Nvo films on view at the Pacific Film Archive's ongoing series of Brazilian films.
-- Gregg Rickman
The Big City screens Friday, Jan. 15, at 7:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive, 2625 Durant (at College), Berkeley. Admission is $6; call (510) 642-1124.