It’s mesmerizing to watch musicians doing live improvisation: bedazzled by the creative flow, you can’t help waiting for them to miss a beat or blow a line. It’s a tribute to the new feature documentary by Cesar and Marie-Clemence Paes that you get almost the same nail-biting sensation watching their film of Brazilian “cantadores” making up songs on the street, with the quick-witted fluency of a Calypso singer or a hip-hop star. The lyrics jump from bathos to insult, from “Though São Paulo steals your shirt/You can rise out of the dirt” to
The itch he has on his behind
Is of a special kind
It’s burning him badly,
Like a red hot chilli
If you sit where he sat
Your arse will deflate.
The last is from a feisty middle-aged woman singing against a macho youth in a competitive play-off in front of a male audience; her opponent throws in the towel.
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