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Bossa Nova

A light, effortless comedy set in Brazil, Bossa Nova has been released as a special edition DVD despite the fact that most people probably haven't heard of it (arriving in theaters in April 1999, it managed to gross a paltry $1 million). A throwback to romantic comedies of the '60s and early '70s, Bossa Nova is a harmless layer-cake of pseudo complications. Mary Ann Simpson (Amy Irving) teaches English as a second language in Rio de Janero. She is a widow — though her husband was a pilot, he drowned (that's the level of the film's "quirky" humor). One of her students is older contract attorney Pedro (Antonio Fagundes) whose wife has just left him for a tai chi teacher. In due course he turns his attention to Mary Ann. There are about six additional characters, each with a romantic quandary bugging them, and most of them end happily; the one exception is Pedro's half-brother, who has a crush on his intern, but she goes off with someone else despite his attempt to seduce her. A comedy in which people miss each other by minutes and go on then to think that the other one does not love them, Bossa Nova works reasonably well if you like that sort of thing, but it requires a deft directorial touch and superb casting — this movie lacks both. However, Irving and director Bruno Barreto (Dona Flor and her Two Husbands), who are romantically involved in real life, offer charming duo commentary track, bantering back and forth lovingly, and she teasingly charges Barreto with stealing her ideas, as all film directors are prone to do. Both being experienced filmmakers, they are also informed about the intricacies of the movie-making process and know what issues to address for the interested film buff. Good anamorphic widescreen transfer (2.35:1), Dolby Digital 5.1. Supplemental features include a 17-minute "making-of" featurette, the theatrical trailer (and three other "bonus" trailers), an isolated score (filled with a wide variety of lush Brazilian love tunes), a trailer, cast and crew notes (but just Irving and Barreto), and a deleted singing and dancing scene of Irving, with commentary. Keep-case.
—Betsy Bozdech

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