Cinema: Brown Orpheus

Dragon Sky. Lady Luck, like most females, needs to feel needed. When Marcel Camus, a middle-aged Frenchman whose first movie had flopped, laid his last sou and two years of his life on the line for a far-out film about the slums of Rio de Janeiro, the lady smiled on every scene he shot—Black Orpheus is a cinemusical masterpiece. But when he lazily decided to remake the same movie in the slums and ruins of Cambodia, the lady gave him a sharp slap in the face—Dragon Sky is just an interesting failure.

At first it's hard to see why. The story, in...

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