Bossa Nova is one of those things that’s better felt than explained. For those looking for a thorough dissection of the genre’s hows, whos, wheres, whens, and whys, Paulo Thiago’s This Is Bossa Nova might be the best option.
Originally titled Coisa Mais Linda after a song by Vinicius de Moraes (and the opening line of Tom Jobim’s immortal “Garota de Ipanema”), this comprehensive documentary details the history of Bossa Nova from its Copacabana origins to international acclaim, discussing numerous influences that include samba, choro, and jazz, as well as disparate masters of the form like Gershwin or Pixinguinha. Narrating the film are composers Roberto Menescal and Carlos Lyra, two of the genre’s founding figures, who never hesitate to pick up a guitar mid-conversation and demonstrate how a particular chord sequence or arrangement magically unfolds into a superb tune.
This Is Bossa Nova is also loaded with insightful interviews and astonishing performances (a large portion of which were filmed specifically for the documentary), along with an impressive dose of archival material featuring some of the greats: Silvinha Telles, João and Astrud Gilberto, Elizete Cardoso, Tamba Trio, Nara Leão, and many more.