Neon Bull is a beautiful ride (Review)

Neon Bull is a 2015 Brazilian film directed by Gabriel Mascaro. After generating a lot of film festival buzz, Neon Bull won the 2017 Cinema Tropical Award for “Best Feature Film.”

Neon Bull is a Sleight of Hand set in the Brazilian Rodeo

Neon Bull Trailer
“Neon Bull” follows Iremar (Juliano Cazarré), a traveling rodeo hand. Iremar works in a vaquejada rodeo. It’s a rural sport of northeast Brazil in which the cowboys take down a bull by pinning it between two horses and pulling its tail.

Iremar takes care of the bulls and designs fantasy costumes for a rodeo dancer Galega (Maeve Jinkings). Iremar dreaming of becoming a fashion designer. He creates wonderful costumes out of nothing.

One hilarious scene has Iremar and a friend trying to sneak the semen of a champion bull.

The film contrasts bullish sexuality with femininity inside a very masculine subculture. The subject is fascinating because vaquejada rodeo is new to most viewers. The film is richly shot with many simple, but strikingly beautiful moments. Mascara sees beauty where most of us see nothing interesting at all.

A shower scene of men bathing is lovely in its casual nudity. The body is beautiful. It only gets weird when you obsess about it. Perhaps that is the strength of this film. It looks at simple vignettes of a simple life without forcing anything upon the viewer.

Mascaro teases the viewer through much of the film in a very Brazilian way. Because Mascaro takes care of bulls, you expect the “Neon Bull” of the title to be one of those bulls. In fact, the bull is Iremar. This is revealed in the final scene. In one of the most interesting sex scenes in memory, Iremar rides the bull in a most unexpected way. There it is. The joke is on us.

Neon Bull stars:
Juliano Cazarré (Iremar)
Alyne Santana (Galega)
Carlos Pessoa
Maeve Jinkings
Vinícius de Oliveira
Sammy de Lavor

Neon Bull in New York City

Sunday, February 26, 2017 at 5pm at Museum of the Moving Image as part of the Cinema Tropical Festival.

April 8-14, 2016 at Film Society of Lincoln Center. Director Gabriel Mascaro and actress Maeve Jinkings will do Q&A on Friday, April 8, 2016 at 6:30pm, and an introduction to the 9:15pm show.

Film Society’s description of Neon Bull

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