(An FYI: the reviews will be occasionally shorter and shallower than we're all used to, as I see 3-4 movies a day and have little time at my computer. Here is the first example).

I think that "fable" is an awfully convenient word to use, when you want to say "this is a frankly unbelievable and even stupid narrative that bears no relationship to real human behavior, but it charmed me anyway." So I suppose I deserve what's coming to me when I declare Meteoro, a Brazilian film by pan-Latin socialist director Diego de la Texera, to be a darling fable.

Here's the plot: a group of men is sent out into the desert to build a road for the Brazilian government. A terrible and unseasonable storm knocks out the only bridge leading to their plateau, leaving the man and a busfull of prostitutes locked away from civilization. For a few months they survive on food drops until the 1964 military coup removes the social democrats from power, and the new totalitarian government officially forgets about them. With the help of a friendly Indian, they manage to scrape by, barely, until a meteor falls near their camp and opens up an underground spring, turning the desert into a lake and permitting the survivors to establish an Edenic commune that thrives for about one decade, until the government returns, convinced that they are abetting the local Communist guerrillas. From time to time, there are musical numbers.

As stories go, that one requires a particularly strong suspension of disbelief, but de la Texera and his cinematographer Renato Padovani make it a little bit easier by shooting the whole movie in what I would like very much to call "over-saturated pastels," if that phrase weren't an inherent paradox, or maybe because it is an inherent paradox. Anyway, the film looks like a series of storybook illustrations, with just a hint of soft focus around everything and gentle colors popping off the screen. It's a perfect visual style for magical realism, which is very much what this story is.

It's also a deeply political movie, combining Marxism with sexual liberation in a way that would probably come across as unbearably tedious if the film weren't so light in appearance and filled with so many sweet characters. Meteoro , the desert paradise, is explicitly a community in which any idea of "money" is eradicated (in a musical number about how great it is that mere lechery has replaced prostitution. Make of that what you will) and ownership is largely a matter of, "this is my space, don't bother me when I need to be here." It's made quite apparent that the utopian happiness of the village and their Communist framework are one and the same. Meanwhile, almost everyone is paired off, but sexual jealousy is not a problem (except in one case, clearly meant to be a horrible aberration), as long as people don't feel like they own each other, which it is suggested is also part of their Communist ways.

It's a story that could only have taken place in the 1960s, in other words, and honestly it's the sort of film that could only be made in the 1960s, but apparently they didn't get that memo in Brazil. And make no mistake, it's decidedly antiquated and uncomfortably naïve at times. But there's so much whimsy to it (and if you have to make a dated Communist parable, a good sense of humor probably comes in handy), the characters are all entirely likable, and it's pretty enough that it's a hard movie to dislike, even though it's surely impossible to love.