Synopsis by Nathan Southern
Innumerable documentaries have explored the essence and cultural legacy of such universalized strands of Brazilian music as samba<>I> and bossa nova; Finnish director Mika Kaurismaki's Brasileirinho) represents the first to unearth and dissect the highly regional Brazilian musical strain known as choro. This indigenous genre - its title translating from Portuguese as 'To Weep' - blends the simple percussive foundation of roots music with highly sophisticated and progressive clarinet and guitar riffs in the foreground - so sophisticated that they invite constant comparison to classical and jazz music. Kaurismaki travels to Rio de Janeiro with his cameras, not only for on-site demonstrations of this style, but for extended conversations with choro musicians. They speak openly and colorfully, with a far greater emphasis on the nature of the music per se than on individual musical legends and their contributions to the Brazilian cultural landscape. Running subtopics include: the most sophisticated ways of playing choro instruments such as the pandeiro and the 7-string Brazilian guitar, as well as the politics of Brazilian music as it descends from a history of slavery. Throughout, Kaurismaki also interpolates in-concert footage of Brazilian choro musicians playing in picturesque locales throughout Rio - thus creating a rare and precious record of a cultural legacy not generally seen outside of South America. Featured musicians include Elza Soares, Teresa Cristina and guitarist Yamandú.