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A Esteticista (2005)
Esthetic for some, boredom for others
I must first say that this movie does not deserve a 1.7 rating, based on 6 votes to date. I suspect all six votes came from the same person, or two or three who saw this little-seen film together.
INDIANA JONES, it is not. However, why would you expect it to be? A brief plot summary would surely have screened out these 5 or 6 voters. In this documentary-crazed era, we are seeing more and more long interviews edited into a feature documentary, than ever before. So few people these days tune into a program or go to the movies, without first knowing they are going to see a documentary, and what topic the doc focuses on.
If many people, the targeted audience I assume, can sit through 2 hours of "I WAS HITLER'S SECRETARY (with not one shot of anyone but the 90 year old chain-smoking Trudl), this film's target audience will certainly be satisfied after sitting through this film. The subject matter is very specific: the tales of survival of a beautician, who has lived in Brazil mostly, since the end of WWII. We also see she never achieved wealth & fame in Brazil, as this beautician is bossed around in her Salon, given orders to (in a parallel of what she also had to bearing the camps) and treated just like any anonymous citizen, which she also is.
For anyone interested in the stories of Holocaust survivors, this is quite an interesting film. We unfortunately almost always hear the depositions of Holocaust survivors who live in the USA or Israel, which have become so common place, that few are that unique.
Furthermore, survivors who have lived the unprecedented prosperity the US enjoyed after the war until recently, certainly have very skewed views of reality. Most of the survivors I've seen and heard never left the US again, or are expressly interviewed in their first trip "abroad" during organized, collective trips back to Eastern Europe, with other survivors - prompting a lot of sameness in their stories.
So, to hear the story of this survivor in her good, but still-heavily accented Portuguese, is a rare opportunity. But, beware, it is definitely only for those interested in the subject matter. It has been playing in Brazilian TV these last 18 months or so, I think those very unfair 1, 2 or 3 votes came from "Joe Blow" TV viewers, who just saw this by accident. Then, the next time they visited this site, they vented their anger at this film's lack of "traditional" (Hollywood) elements by voting it down.
Make up your own mind about this documentary if you like the subject matter. Don't go by what 6 people have voted down, at a click of a mouse, but haven't commented on why it's so bad. I think votes below 4 should require a comment in order to be counted as valid.
Pervye na Lune (2005)
Somewhat dull "mockumentary" on the Soviet Space Plan
This "mockumentary" mixes facts and fantasy, vintage footage, and fake footage, a mix of the the vintage and the new, in showing the successes and failures, the injustices and contradictions in Stalinist Russia, using its space program as the basis.
The film begins in the spring of 1938, in the mountains of northern Chile, where a flying object fell, in flames, later referred to as the Chilean Sphere". This episode is composed of clearly recently reconstructed scenes. So, an investigation of the episode by a filming team, comes upon an important discovery. This is a secret space program developed in the Soviet Union before World War II. Scientists and military authorities, the film would have you believe, had developed a spaceship 23 years before Yuri Gagarin ever went to space.
The amusing elements of fiction and true statements of the Stalin era the interesting features of this film, which lack continuity, not always easy to follow. I think it was intended for the intellectuals of the former Soviet Republics, particularly Russia, Kazakhstan, and the Ucraine. Its appeal, even in the festival circuit, is very limited.
Lacking cohesion, and depending on the non-stop loud Russian-language commentary to follow the film, it is not comprehensible to the non-Russian speaker, or a non-ex Soviet citizen in one screening. And who'd want to sit through another screening. Though the idea sounds good, it will really be quite boring to most everyone.
A dramatic tango
This little seen Argentine drama is worth a screening. It just premiered in the major Brazilian Film Festivals, four years after the picture's release date, and that's in Argentina's closest neighboring country and largest trade partner. It was, however screened in competition at the 2005 Shanghai International Film Festival. So, maybe the film will get a new life, and more exposure. The low number of IMDb votes in 4 years and its recent festival premiere in Brazil indicate that it has indeed not been seen much. That's a shame, since it has great appeal to tango lovers, even if it is not for everyone.
"Garúa" is the name of a famous Argentinian tango. It is also Spanish for that foggy light rain, the kind that evaporates before hitting the ground. So, that metaphor will shed a lot of light on the film's theme. The plot begins with Franco killing a tango singer, & the weight of guilt begins to haunt him obsessively.
He finds himself compelled to find out more about his victim in order apparently to alleviate his guilt. This takes him into the fascinating world of tango in bohemian Buenos Aires, with true artists around. Franco becomes involved in the tango scene and starts filling gaps left by the dead man, including involvement in the deceased's personal life. The scene is set.... A very recommendable tango drama.
Die Vogelpredigt (2005)
Hilarious and intelligent
This modestly produced film from Switzerland is both hilarious and intelligent. The film's low budget does unfortunately show in its production values. But no matter. The result is one of the most original and funniest films in the S. Paulo Film Festival. The picture also addresses serious issues regarding Switzerland in general, and its artists in particular. The wonderful use of the Swiss-German dialect is another original feature, though it may be lost for viewers not familiar with the issue.
That said, it's not for everyone obviously, and that's perhaps the film's biggest statement; that any film to be financed and get made requires a huge compromise so it can "be for everyone", more or less. This message is expressed in a script where 2 veteran actors want to make a new, different Swiss film. So, they set off in search of a director.
They seek the writer, director and producer of the film itself - Clemens Klopfenstein, who sits as a juror in this year's S. Paulo Film Festival where I screened the film yesterday. And his character uses his own real name in the movie.
The two middle age decadent actors have worked with the director (decades ago), and after a wild ride from German-speaking to Italian speaking Switzerland, they find him & try to convince him of this new idea for a film. It would an epic road movie across Africa, with beautiful women, and other exotic and wild details.
The production would be a sequence to a successful film they made 10 years before - The Silence of Men. But the two cannot persuade him to accept their idea. On the contrary, both are persuaded to perform in the director's new feature with a religious theme entitled St Francis Birds Tour, in which Ursula Andress delivers an interesting cameo as the Virgin Mary.
For a screen test, the actors are dressed as monks, & taken to a forest which is literally a labyrinth. It does not take them too long to find out that, in reality, they have fallen into a trap. The director disappears as though by magic, and they find themselves lost, with no idea of how to find their way out. With this unfortunate but hilarious situation, the plot of the film really takes off and leads to the absurd, but very funny conclusion, which I won't spoil for you, of course. Definitely a 10 in my book.
Gaijin - Ama-me Como Sou (2005)
Saga of descendants of Japanese immigrants to Brazil
This, the second Brazilian "Gaijin" film, now appears 25 years after the first drama. It shares a lot of common ground with the earlier film, including the same director, and a couple of the same characters; one Nipo-Brazilian is played by the same actor as in the 1980 Film. It's also another saga about the descendants of Japanese immigrants to Brazil, who now face the same difficulties as all Brazilians, the difficulties resulting from the country's history.
Within Brazil's history, the Japanese immigration is among the most remarkable, and unusual highlights; amazing not only as the sole massive Japanese immigration movement, but emerging as Brazil's most successful group of immigrants, all the more surprising for being the most unlikely of any other immigrant or ethnic group, originally having absolutely no tie whatsoever to any other group, and thus facing the worse hardships of any group since the African slaves.
This new film recently won top prizes, including best film, director, and supporting actress, at Brazil's most traditional and prestigious film "event": the Gramado Festival. The critics in Brazil have nevertheless not been nearly as kind, and have pretty much denounced the film, mostly for its plot holes. The public here has been less than receptive. The film lasted only two weeks at Sao Paulo's most prestigious and popular "arteplex" which is also located in the heart of the city and close to old and new Braz-Japanese neighborhoods.
In its third week of commercial exhibition, the film is now playing at a second run cinema, where I just saw it, though it is still playing at a few shopping centers. I can't help but think if this film doesn't make it here, where would it make it? I saw it nevertheless, and was pleasantly surprised. It is a bit too long, and the plot is indeed full of holes, but overall it's worth seeing. Particularly for the excellent mixed cast, including the Cuban Jorge Perugorria and the American Tamlyn Tomita in two of the main roles, blending into a mix of some of the most famous veteran Brazilian actors, and local teenage heartthrobs now, like Dado Dolabella, and Mariana Ximenes - two current huge soap opera idols.
If that says nothing to you (and it won't to most of the world), maybe the unusual and true Japanese-Brazilian story line, and the plot will. This is what happens during 131 minutes in a nut shell. In 1908, Titoe, a Japanese woman comes to Brazil intent on making some money here, then eventually return to Japan. But in 1935, with her Brazil born daughter Shinobu, and with insufficient means to return to Japan, Titoe decides to buy her first plot of land in Londrina, an agricultural area (now a big city) where many Japanese were put to work in Brazil.
The 2nd World War and its consequences put Titoe's plans to return "home" on endless hold. Titoe not only bore her daughter Shinobu in this new land, but Shinobu has given her mother more reasons to postpone her dream - two grandchildren: Kazumi and Maria, Both are second generation Brazilians, confirming the definition of "home" as arguable at best.
The East-West conflicts of course predominate. But they are somewhat different from the usual clichés. The back-lands of Brazil in the mid 20th Century are NOT the "West" portrayed in similarly themed films. Herein lie many differences, and the main reason why you will probably either become involved in this film's story, or terribly bored.
O Pulso (1998)
Award-winning short film addressing life & death
This film, THE PULSE, in English is a gem of a short film. It deservedly won the Best Short Film Award at the 1998 Miami Brazilian Film Festival. The title may refer to the pulse of the heart, which indicates life or death, or it may refer to the pulsing timing during action of the film. THE PULSE involves trying to rescue a man, by taking him to a hospital, and the events at the hospital. It is unusual and thought provoking.
Satree lek (2000)
"Against All Odds," a cross between "Rocky" & "Priscilla, Queen..." prevails!
From Thailand, this film (winner of two 2001 Berlin Film Festival "Teddy Awards)" is an outrageous high-camp comedy, which despite its eccentricities, is sure to entertain all audiences, and have a strong positive message for everyone. THE IRON LADIES (English title) celebrates the true 1996 triumph of a group of hilarious Thai screaming queens.
Through a series of circumstances, the drag queens, join a new (and female) coach and the sole survivor (and only straight player) of a district volleyball squad to form a new team. Representing its district and now competing at the national level, they are clearly face down at odds. In spite of this and their individual "personal issues," they strive for championships and national recognition, creating an Asian phenomenon on the way.
The film is very Hollywood-slick, but at the same time, very Asian. It is a unique picture of very unconventional sportsmen battling bigotry on and off the court. IRON LADIES breathes new life into both the screwball comedy and the root-for-the underdog sports movie. Not to be missed.
Gelée précoce (1999)
One of the best shorts I have ever seen!
EARLY FROST (the English title & literal translation) is simply the best short film I have ever seen: humorous, dramatic, gay, straight,.... Simply the best. At over 15 minutes length, the film has enough time to develop themes most full length features don't, through its ingenious insinuations. A fable, and uproarious black comedy, the film deals with homophobia and family disfunction through the relationship of a young girl and her pet rabbit.
When the rabbit shows homosexual inclinations, the parents of the girls take very extreme measures which transform the girl's life. At the same time, the girl (and her parents) come in contact with the the family's up-to-then ignored gay neighbors in this upper middle-class Parisian suburb. The impacting life-long consequences of these developments are, in a word, unique. The "natural" similarity between the sexual orientation and other characteristics of humans and pet animals has never been so well explored, and focused. A milestone short-film; a true achievement.
Bombay Talkie (1970)
Very dated film, best not to revisit
This 1970 movie starring the then Indian heart throb Shashi Kapoor, and his long time wife Jennifer Kendal, or Kapoor (billed with one or the other name in her films)is in a time warp. An early merchant-Ivory production, it shows how far this duo and their other usual collaborators have come. On another level, to see what Bombay looked like 30 years ago, compared to what it is today is a shocking experience in time travel. To see Shashi Kapoor as a slim youthful sex symbol today, when one has been seeing him in the 90s, say, in 'IN CUSTODY.' as an incredibly obese old dying man with now lightened hair, is also one of the most striking transformations of any former sex symbol in history. Marlon Brando resembles his former self much more than Kapoor, just to hint at the transformation. Another step back in time is to see Kapoor's long time wife (married from 1958 until her death from cancer in September 1984) in essence playing herself. Except for the refreshing, nostalgic look at Bombay, the other subjects this film features are best left alone, like the dead. What you will see is very depressing. And the entire theme of the movie, already weak in 1970, is completely irrelevant now. Spare yourself the pain. I only got through it because I didn't realize the youthful, healthy Kapoor was the monstrously looking creature he is today. And even when the utter bitchiness of the late Jennifer Kendal had me on the edge, I stuck it out through the rest of the film. But it is an experience I would not recommend.
Ein Virus kennt keine Moral (1986)
Pioneering satire about AIDS
This, at the time, was a pioneering film. The always innovative and irreverent Rosa von Praunheim broke the ice on satirizing AIDS. This was later done by several other independent directors from Canada and the USA, also imitating the parody musical format which von Praunheim created. This film is still the most important of its genre. Von Praunheim was severely ostracized for poking fun at such a subject. But he insisted that given how the world had ignored AIDS up to then (1985; it took the Rock Hudson death to shake the US then), satire was necessary. He was right. Whatever would cause the most raucous would bring the most attention to AIDS. And it worked. So, don't expect a landmark film. But it is a film that perhaps highlights von Praunheim's career as a gay activist, not as a film maker.
Com Licença, Eu Vou à Luta (1986)
Landmark Brazilian working-class family drama
A film worth seeing, for many reasons. It is an excellent working class drama, showing a side of Brazil not always shown. And it features outstanding performers by now veteran actresses Marieta Severo (CARLOTA JOAQUINA, PRINCESS OF BRAZIL), and the Cannes Best Actress-Award winning Fernanda Torres, daughter of the now famous Montenegro (CENTRAL STATION). The soundtrack boasts some of Brazil's best pop music of the 80's also. A good choice.
Lágrimas negras (1998)
Falling in love with the mentally ill
This movie, BLACK TEARS in English, deals with the unusual theme of a nice, educated young guy who falls in love with a mentally ill young woman. He is attractive, successful, and about to get married. She varies in appearance and demeanor, belonging to the upper crust of society, from which she often escapes in wild, very dark episodes. This is, arguably one of the best Spanish dramas of 1999, having been nominated for several awards, including the Best Actress Goya for Ariadne Gil in January 2000. The cast is uniformly excellent. Spanish film fans will notice two rather extreme departures in the casting. Fele Martinez (OPEN YOUR EYES, THESIS, LOVERS OF THE ARCTIC CIRCLE) who usually plays goofy, very plain-looking guys has been transformed into a hip and handsome leading man, with no glasses, facial hair, or bad hair, and a pumped up physique. On the other hand, Gil, usually the gorgeous irresistible heroine, is most often shown here as an unattractive and unkept psychopath. So both leads are cast against type, and yet succeed admirably. An unusual drama worth checking out.
Héroes de otra patria (1996)
Saga of two Puerto Rican soldiers in Vietnam
This is an excellent docu-drama about "heroes' fighting for and from "another homeland" (the USA and Vietnam). Though they are technically Americans, they are viewed even by "Americans" as Puerto Ricans. The film tells the story of these two soldiers whose destinies cross in Vietnam for very different reasons. Their life experiences, family situations, and life in war are intertwined in this excellent drama.
A los que aman (1998)
Lush love drama/swashbuckler
TO THOSE WHO LOVE explores the secret and deep amorous passion that marks the life of a young doctor, and of those around him. This doctor is love with Matilde, who gives herself blindly to the wrong man. Her little sister Armancia, full of cruel innocence, and Valeria, a beautiful and mysterious fencing mistress, interfere further in the lives of the Doctor and Matilde. The result is a beautifully filmed story of unrequited love, fencing and life along the French/Spanish border in the early 19th century.
Florentino y el diablo (2000)
Labor of love about the Venezuelan "llanos"
This film is a low-budget (by necessity) labor of love by Venezuelan director Michael New. It stars his daughter as the female lead, and a couple of known Venezuelan actors, who also worked on the film as a labor of love. It is a slow-moving, poetic film, with typical regional music, and narration in rhyme in the local vernacular. Definitely, an art movie or festival feature, this film still may be a bit too long even for art film lovers. The ambiguous themes of the man fighting eternally against the devil (evil), and man's never ending exploitation of the lands, wildlife and fruits that nature gave us are just too broadly depicted. This combined with the flaws inherent of a production with an extremely low budget mars this film. It has a great concept, but ultimately, it is very tedious.
"I will survive" even if means embracing the next best thing
I WILL SURVIVE is, in short, the best possible result of what a recent American movie with Madonna and Ruppert Everett could have been. This European version with less famous (worldwide) stars, though very well-known on their local turf, is the classic example of ground which continues to be solidly on the other side of the Atlantic. The Europeans consistently put out intelligent sex/love-themed comedies while North Americans continue to fall short of the mark in this genre. If you don't understand this, check out I WILL SURVIVE, currently making the "Festival" Circuit in North America. The natural approach taken to nudity, sexual orientation, frank discussions of love and sexual dilemmas, and unsanitized situations (while still taking place in the upper classes of society) contrasts stridently with Hollywood fare. Ultimately, the contrast might be explained by the Puritanism which still permeates North American morals. However, the fact still remains that smarter, better, and just as glossy (if not glossier) comedies continue to come from Spain and France, in particular. If you need proof, don't miss I WILL SURVIVE.
Ratas, ratones, rateros (1999)
Unsurpassed realism shocks in this must see Latin film
I had heard a lot about this ground breaking, acclaimed film about street kids in Ecuador at Film Festivals in Europe and South America in 1999. But, I just got to see it today at the Miami Hispanic Film Festival. Take it from one who's experienced that scene in the crime ridden, cocaine-permeated large capitals of South America...This film- RODENTS, in English is the next most realistic (and much less life-threatening) thing to being in that scene. It's not just the characters themselves, their neighborhoods, their language, their crimes which are so meticulously recreated. The alluring yet potentially lethal high that cocaine in all its forms, especially in smoked form in this film, has never been as faithfully reproduced. "Rodents" main, ex-convict character, and the special effects surrounding his base smoking scenes, are mind boggling. The movie starts with such a scene. After that, it's as if one totally understands what draws the character to continue committing such incredible low, almost sub-human crimes. The high is so intoxicating, even when juxtaposed with graphic sex, that for once, and perhaps the only time in cinema, the poison that particular drug contains is made completely clear. What ensues in "Rodents" in the never-ending quest for that "high" constitutes some of the most realistic portrayals of youth crime, and social class clashes in Latin America film. However, seeing all that, with the almost too real-to-be-true cinematic insight of the addiction which causes these social tragedies, is a unique experience. Not to be missed.
What an uplifting, feel-good, hilarious, and intelligent farce
Wow! Right after you think you have seen every possible reworking of the modern, intelligent yet hilarious Spanish sex farce, NOVIOS comes out of nowhere! That is, at least for us in the US. What a pity this superb piece of film making with the latest technical enhancements, and excellent English subtitles (obviously for UK audiences)never gets released here beyond a few festivals. No wonder ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER gets such attention! As deserved as that attention is, Almodovar's competition at home is fierce. NOVIOS features former two Almodovar leads (from WOMEN ON THE VERGE... and ALL ABOUT...), as well as veteran male leading men, and in particular, young Argentine born, Spanish heart throb Juan Diego Botto (MARTIN H with Cecilia Roth, and IN THE ARMS OF OLDER WOMEN with Faye Dunaway). And that's just four of the leads, and all at their peak. The across the board excellent performances, highly intelligent social satire of Spanish and European social customs at the turn of the century, beautiful, colorful cinematography, with a tremendous soundtrack of Spanish and Latin romantic music used to great effect, all contribute to make this a comedy that will blow you away in laughter, and high humor. This highlight of the 2000 Hispanic Film Festival was somewhat foreseen, as it was originally scheduled for ten different performances on two different days. However, it is surpassing the other Juan Diego Botto love and sex farce "I Will Survive" with Emma Suarez, another fabulous modern comedy, in popularity. This is no small feat since "I Will Survive" is also brilliant, and the two are against another dozen critically and popularly acclaimed Spanish comedies presented this year. My recommendation may come too late for Florida movie buffs, but festival lovers in North America, and foreign cinema buffs in Europe, en garde! Keep your eyes out for NOVIOS, and don't miss this gem.
Pon un hombre en tu vida (1996)
Intelligent, hilarious gender bender
PUT A MAN IN YOUR LIFE is an unusual gender bender. As overworked as the genre has been the past decade, this farce stands out. Its premise is a change of body experience between a loud-mouthed, macho soccer team manager with all the stereotypical flaws of the Latin male (Tonio Canto' of ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER), and Belinda, a female singer representing the modern European twenty something woman. Fate finds the soccer manager's team and Belinda's singing group at the same hotel one weekend. These two opposites accidentally collide and wake up, near death, having switched bodies. The resulting gender-bending hi-jinx are really a hoot to watch. Throw in more than just a few eccentric characters, and funny plot twists, and the result is a highly original film, with a message, which is very-well delivered. This is a great bed-hopping comedy of errors which appeals to both sexes and is a great film to watch one night you want some intelligent fun.
Más allá del jardín (1996)
This beautifully filmed drama, based on the famous Spanish novel of the same name is a worthy adaption of the popular book. Strong performances by a fine ensemble cast bring the characters to life in a very colorful setting. The film features Italian legend Gian Carlo Giannini in one of his few Spanish-speaking roles, as well as the well-known Fernando Guillen Cuervo, the excellent Concha Velazquez (in one of her best roles), and the promising rising star Eduardo Noriega (TESIS, OPEN YOUR EYES) in one of his earlier roles. Check it out.
Como un relámpago (1996)
Entertaining son-searching-for-father story
This 1996 Spanish film follows the familiar story of the teenage son looking for his real father. In this case, the 17 year old boy is played by Eloy Azorin, now famous as the ill-fated son in ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER. In this, his screen debut, he embodies the role of the estranged son very convincingly. The acting is excellent throughout the film. Santiago Ramos, one of Spain's best character actors, is perfect in the role of the sought-after father, as is Assumpta Serna as the mother. The cinematography is outstanding, making the most of picturesque locations in Madrid's upper class residential neighborhoods, in the city itself, and particularly the Canary Islands. The strong direction (winner of Best Director Award at the 1999/97 Miami Hispanic Film Festival) binds the other outstanding elements to make a good entertaining film from a story which has been overworked as any in film history; otherwise the film would be just one more in the genre. But the movie does stand out amongst the son-seeking-father genre, and is definitely worth watching, particularly if you follow Spanish cinema.
Guerra de Canudos (1997)
Grandiose Brazilian Epic
The film tagline reads (in my English translation). "Brazil has been waiting for this film for a hundred years." Well, while the events depicted in the film did take place a little over 100 years before, the film-going public wasn't anxiously waiting for this tragic matter to be retold. Having said that, the film is a major player in the so-called "Renaissance of Brazilian cinema." It does deal with one of the most tragic events in the country's history, and tells the story exceedingly well. Featuring an outstanding cast, and directed by the respected Sergio Rezende, this movie when released was the best example to date that Brazil was indeed capable of producing a quality full-blown epic film with convincing drama, emotion, rhythm, and great cinematic beauty. Highly recommended for those who enjoy historical epics.
Eles Não Usam Black-Tie (1981)
Portrait of the Brazilian working-class in the '80s
This award-winning 1981 film is as realistic a portrait as exists about the struggles of working-class families in industrializing Brazilian cities. The two families whose stories are told, live out the contradictions, violence, and almost overwhelming difficulties that are part of living in Sao Paulo, Latin America's most industrialized metropolis. The film won Fernanda Montenegro (CENTRAL STATION) one of her first international best actress awards, and the film itself was awarded the Special Jury Prize in 1981 at the Cannes Film Festival. It's definitely one of the best films to have come out of Brazil in the 80's.
Small movie, huge mess
The low budget KLEINES TROPICANA overwhelms the viewer with an unfathomable number of characters, subplots, plot twists, and covert messages. I saw this movie as a result of the publicity it received in Germany. I couldn't believe the reviews were as bizarre as they were. I wanted to see what the fuss was about. Well, the director of ALICIA EN EL PAIS DE LAS MARAVILLAS (Alice in Wonderland) was once banned in Cuba for his films' underlying criticism of the regime. He reunites here with some of the ALICIA group for another pretentiously clever social satire, masquerading as Latin American realist cinema. Even the most ardent fan of the genre, fluent in Cuban Spanish, will have to watch and rewind the film several times, and take notes on the myriad of characters just to understand it. I watched it twice, read the "wise" introductory "quotes" three times, and had to see the ending three times. This is not a spoiler. The ending brings back each character, adding a couple we never saw, and adds a "witty" epitaph about each one. KLEINES TROPICANA or TROPICANITA (Little Tropicana), one can only assume, represents a microcosm of Cuban life, a small Havana or "Tropicana," the country's most famous nightclub. The characters who inhabit this film include policemen, grave robbers, old Nazis, neo Nazis, a dwarf, a drag queen, government cultural directors, Santeria-healers, a rapist, and an aging "internationalist lover" who has screwed herself around the world, and has apparently retired in Havana. The movie basically is recounted by a policeman's report about the death of a Havana-born German man who was found dead in a bird's costume (feathers and all) in an important Havana grave, revered by locals as a "holy site". The cop (Vladimir Cruz) tells a blasse' boss about the supposed murder of Hermann Pangloss. The police chief is totally bored by the entire story. You probably will be too. The German critics were right. What a bore!
Tiempo de morir (1985)
Good remake of Gabriel Garcia Marquez' TIME TO KILL
This 1985 Colombian/Cuban production had a hard act to follow, its excellent 1965 precursor by the great Mexican director, Arturo Ripstein. This version OF TIEMPO DE MORIR is a worthy remake. Its mix of Cuban and Colombian characters (though discernible by most Latin-Americans) create a non-descript Latin American atmosphere, in equally non-descript Latin American locations. This is of course in line with the author's intentions, so this Pan-Latin American feel is felt almost as well in this film as in Garcia Marquez' books. The likewise pan-Latin American themes of machismo, family honor, Catholicism, law through gun power, oppressed women, and revenge are very well presented throughout the script and by the camera. This is a little-known Latin-American film worth watching.