Color, 2015, 103 mins. 51 secs.
Directed by Gabriel Mascaro
Starring Juliano Cazarré, Maeve Jinkings, Josinaldo Alves, Roberto Birindelli, Alyne Santana
Second Run (Blu-ray & DVD) (UK R0 HD/PAL), Kino Lorber (Blu-ray & DVD) (US RA/R1 HD/NTSC), Potential Films (DVD) (Australia R4 PAL) / WS (2.35:1) (16:9)

A Neon Bullcombination of Neon Bullslice-of-life character study and eye-popping surreal art film, Neon Bull (original title: Boi neon) is the kind of film that would have been far better known in English-language circles had it hit theaters a decade or so earlier. Set in the world of the Brazilian rodeo circuit, it's an intriguing, visually striking, and atmospheric little gem as well as a reminder of that country's casual attitude to material that would be considered transgressive elsewhere.

Shot over a two-month period in 2014, the dusty and narratively loose tale follows a few days in the life of Iremar (Cazarré), a handler who spends much of his time transporting bulls from one gig to another. Among his traveling companions are Galega (Jinkings), the company driver and occasional erotic dance entertainer, and her daughter Cacá (Santana). Though he harbors dreams of becoming a clothing designer (which results in some of the film's most potent images), Iremar also becomes entangled with his co-workers' lives involving petty crime, romantic complications, and fly-by-night trysts on the road.

A tough film to describe or even pin down, Neon Bull aims to feel like stepping in the shoes of its main character (and, by extension, those around him) with all the abrupt shifts in tone and pacing that life itself offers. Several languid conversational scenes capture the feeling of just hanging out with this motley crew, only to suddenly shift into stylized semi-nude performance pieces that wouldn't feel out Neon Bullof place in something like Lost River (which would pair well with this one). It also sports one of the more unusual finales in recent memory, an incredibly protracted, real-time sex scene with an unconventional visual twist; though still simulated, it's pretty intense and an unusual choice to wrap up the story.

Neon BullAlways adventurous and full of surprises, UK label Second Run brings this film to Blu-ray and DVD in a beautiful presentation that should continue to increase its profile after the 2016 Blu-ray and DVD editions from Kino Lorber and the Australian DVD. Colors are bold and provide real eye candy where it counts, with an impressive level of detail and depth throughout; the Brazilian LPCM audio also sounds immaculate, with optional English subtitles provided.

Extras include a reel of behind-the-scenes footage (24m52s) from the film's two-month shoot in 2014 (captured on a camera with some serious motion interpolation issues, but nice to have for posterity), and a 2016 interview with director Gabriel Mascaro (32m3s) originally streamed live from a phone but worth checking out as he covers the process of mounting the film as his "own boss" with a mixture of actors and non-actors in a part of Brazil not seen very often by global film audiences. The insert booklet features another Mascaro interview with David Jenkins, covering his discovery of Brazilian rodeo and his collaborative process and cinematic influences -- as well as a candid revelation of what happened to him the night before shooting began.

Reviewed on April 20, 2018.