Monday, January 21, 2008

Honey for Oshun: Dreaming in Cuban

As the US government belatedly normalized relations with Vietnam in the 1990s, the next administration will have the opportunity to make things better between the USA and Cuba. I can't wait -- visiting Cuba legally and straight from the States is definitely something for my bucket list. . .

Meanwhile . . . one can enjoy Cristina Garcia's Dreaming in Cuban: A Novel (1992). Garcia's work looks at interrelated families affected by the Cuban Revolution over three generations.

Juan Gerard's Cuba Libre / Dreaming of Julia / Cuban Blood (2003) gives a coherent look at the last year of Cuba under Batista (1958) from the perspective of people living in the small town of Holguín. Not a masterpiece like Federico Fellini's Amarcord / I Remember (1973) but similar in its approach, Cuba Libre is not terrible. Harvey Keitel is funny. Gael García Bernal of The Motorcycle Diaries / Diarios de motocicleta (2004) is good, too. With some more editing and a change of narration, Cuba Libre could easily be made more accessible to a wider audience. As is, Erik's Choice: B-

Humberto Solás' Miel para Oshún / Honey for Oshun (2001) is a beautiful little independent film. Cuban-born Solás has a deft feel for modern Cuba, foibles and all. Essentially, the story revolves around a Cuban-born man's desperate quest to find his long lost mother. They've been separated for most of his life, and she is thought to still be living in Cuba. Oshun is an Afro-Cuban spirit goddess associated with a Catholic saint, La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre. Erik's Choice: A-

Jorge Perugorría as Roberto with Isabel Santos as his artsy Cuban cousin, Pilar. Roberto's parents split because of the Revolution -- his father took him to the States and she stayed behind.

Soy Cuba / i am Cuba / I Am Cuba / Ich bin Kuba (1964) is an interesting product of the Cold War. Directed by Mikhail Kalatozov, the plot is as cartoonish from a Soviet communist point of view as Alfred Hitchcock's Topaz is from the other side. Clownish depictions of capitalist rogues contrast with sympathetic vignettes of the heroic common people. But the glory of this movie is Kalatozov's collaboration with cinematographer Sergei Urusevsky resulting in imagery that transcends the fractured "Cuba for Dummies" narrative. The continuous shot techniques of Soy Cuba have influenced many other filmmakers --and still amaze. Erik's Choice: Story line C+, cinematography, A.

Today's Rune: Journey. Happy MLK Day!


Charles Gramlich said...

I always enjoyed Cuba seen through Hemingway's eyes.

Beth said...

Bueno post today!