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Hour of the Star

Kino // Unrated // September 6, 2005
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Svet Atanasov | posted October 20, 2005 | E-mail the Author
The Film:

I have decided to begin my review of Hour of the Star, an award-winning Brazilian feature presented to us by KINO VIDEO, in a reversed manner where instead of giving you a synopsis of the film plus a detailed analysis of the direction and performances I would start with expressing my amusement that this film has actually made it through the quality department of the company producer. I will go into greater detail later on but suffice to say if you decide to skip my review right here I won't feel insulted at all. You have my word and I promise you won't miss on a remarkable cinematic experience.

So, let's get back on track, shall we? Here I am holding in my hands the upcoming release of Hour of the Star, a film that deals with the emotional and physical struggles of Macabea (Marcelia Cartaxo) who appears to be mentally challenged. Strangely enough she has managed to get a job as a typist and quite frankly she has no idea what her professional duties entail. Macabea often forgets what she is asked to do; she hardly manages to keep track of her daily task-sheet, and at times is even unsure if she is indeed the person responsible for the job she has been hired for. In addition to all her troubles at the office where she "works" Macabea also manages to fall in love with a man who any self-respected female will avoid like the plague.

It is difficult not to become immersed in this story of human struggle and suffering where one woman is attempting to find a meaning for her miserable life. The personal suffering she undergoes takes the bigger part of her emotional stability and as a result by the time the film ends we feel as if she has been given no chance in a story that perhaps looks a bit too real. I certainly felt like I did not want to go through the ordeals the main character had to endure yet I was forced to sit through her suffering hoping that at the end some miracle will save Macabea from her pain. Well, neither the miracle happened nor did I feel any better. The film left a bitter taste in my mouth and when the end credits rolled I rushed to replace my screener with something else.

With all of this said I think it is fair to point out how incredibly strong Marcelia Cartaxo's performance of Macabea was. She has truly taken over her character and it is not a surprise that she won the Silver Bear Award at the Berlin Film Festival back in 1985 as well as the Best Female Award at the Brazilia Festival of Brazilian Cinema during the same year.

How Does the DVD Look? Now let's get to the technical presentation of this DVD which proved to be as painful and hard to endure as the actual film was. In fact, I had a really hard time performing a logical analysis of the main feature and talking about the merits of this film, be it cinematography, acting, or direction, simply because I was not able to focus on any of the above mentioned aspects. Folks, I don't quite know how else to describe the presentation of Hour of the Star offered by KINO other than to say that this is one of the most horrendous looking DVDs my eyes have ever seen. First of all the film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 which I am going to guess here does not appear to be the original aspect ratio. Furthermore, the print conveys such heavy damage (jittering, enormous print marks, etc) that as I mentioned above I had an enormously difficult time sitting through it and consequently making any decent comments for the purpose of this review. Believe it or not there are huge white lines that split the image in a manner you would see in a VHS tape that is at least 15 years old. In fact, I would go on record here and say that I have seen VHS tapes that look thousand times better than this DVD "release". With other words, I hope you get the picture here, or the lack of, as this is one poorly manufactured DVD. Period!!

How Does the DVD Sound? Well, on par with the dreadful video presentation the audio quality offers a number of annoying cracks and pops that make you want to replace this disc with something more pleasing. In Portuguese (mono) with forced white English subtitles.

Extras: Surprisingly in addition to the main feature we are offered a gallery of stills. But what for? I hardly managed to sit through the main feature and you think I would spend time looking at the stills? (Though I did and you won't believe it but the stills looked hundred times better than the actual film print).

Final Thoughts: To quote a colleague of mine who writes for a well-established British magazine this DVD is "genuine duff". I don't know who was in charge with the production of the DVD for Hour of the Star and more importantly who in the quality department of KINO approved this transfer but I hope the company at least spends some time investigating the issue. This is hands down the worst print I have ever seen to come out of KINO. Despite the good qualities of the film I can not but strongly recommend that you SKIP IT.

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