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Teresa, played by Bárbara Colen, returns to her matriarchal village in a near-future Brazil to find a succession of sinister events in the film Bacurau.

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  • Bacurau
  • Written and directed by Juliano Dornelles and Kleber Mendonca Filho
  • Starring Barbara Colen, Sonia Braga and Udo Kier
  • Classification R; 131 minutes

rating

3.5 out of 4 stars

If audiences cannot enter theatres, then the theatres will enter audiences’ homes. These past few weeks, as cinemas have shuttered and distributors have pulled titles indefinitely, a range of innovative alternatives have sprung up for the hungry, and likely very-in-need-of-distraction, moviegoer.

At Toronto’s TIFF Bell Lightbox, the organization is partnering with Canadian streamer Crave to offer a series of “Stay-at-Home Cinema” programming, which kicked off this past Friday with a screening of The Princess Bride, preceded by a conversation between that film’s star Mandy Patinkin and TIFF artistic director and co-head Cameron Bailey, which was broadcast over Instagram. Toronto’s Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema has launched “Hot Docs at Home,” aiming to highlight the wealth of doc titles available for home viewing. And now some of the country’s independent cinemas have banded together with U.S. indie distributor Kino Lorber for “Kino Marquee,” a series of virtual screening rooms that allow viewers to digitally rent a new release for five days, with the profits being split between the exhibitor and distributor.

Intended as a “lifeline” for art-house cinemas to stay in business as the COVID-19 crisis stretches on, Kino Marquee’s initiative is certainly starting strong, kicking off with the premiere of the wild, head-spinning festival favourite Bacarau.

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Udo Kier, left, as Michael and Sônia Braga as Domingas in Bacurau, a movie where it’s the destination, not the journey, that matters.

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The film features the return of the team behind the equally wild (but overlong) TIFF 2016 selection Aquarius – both ambitious stews of genre and politics. Directors Kleber Mendonca Filho and Juliano Dornelles open their new film by zooming in on the tiny Brazilian village of Bacurau from the vast emptiness of outer space – a fitting introduction, given that the hamlet is about to be literally wiped off the map by a group of American and German mercenaries who’ve paid for the privilege.

Or something like that – the exact plot mechanics of the film and its villains, led by a delightfully weird Udo Kier, are muddy, though the filmmakers also never pretend to be interested in spelling out every beat and twist, as did its genre cousin The Hunt when it was released last month.

Instead, Bacurau is a fiery anti-colonialism polemic with so much on its mind that you’ll likely come out of it feeling as dazed as the titular village’s people, who frequently ingest psychotropic drugs. Part siege movie, part rural drama, part gore-soaked freak-out, Bacurau is the one instance where it’s the destination, not the journey, that matters. And if that end point right now happens to be your living room, then so be it.

Bacurau is available to view on Kino Marquee via Toronto’s Regent Theatre until April 2, the Fox Theatre from April 3-9, and additional theatres across the country throughout April. For more information, visit kinolorber.com

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