Golgot's Reviews

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there's a frog in my snake oil
Thought it was time i proved i really do post in the movie forums occasionally


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EDIT: 5 star ratings added for new Mofo review system - but i never do know how much popcorn a movie's worth...
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EDITEDIT: Added titles to all the ones that lacked em (might even fix the format n pics again one day )
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Virtual Reality chatter on a movie site? Got endless amounts of it here. Reviews over here



"Money won is twice as sweet as money earned."



there's a frog in my snake oil
Buffalo Soldiers


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Lots of the snappy stylings that appeared in Two Hands are in evidence here. Joaquin Phoenix does a good job as the anti-hero (a sort of amoral crim who's been given the choice of conscription or prison). I found some elements of the love story in the centre between him and a barrack-child (daughter of a ex 'nam vet) better than some critics would have it. A few bits were kind of endearing in a two-screwed-up-kids-meet-up kind of way. They are accepting of their differences and probs etc.

This film suggests all kinds of shenanigans go on amongst peace-time soldiers (in this case, ones based in germany as the berlin wall was falling). They also cover some of the
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survivalistic visciousness amongst these defenders-of-civilisation. Some of the things that happen reflect real events (i.e. tanks wandering around and trashing things/bits of villages by mistake etc). The drug use seems reasonable to assume to some extents, and has precedents too i believe. They take it further of course, into lala land, to make it all interesting. And they certainly don't glamourise drug-abuse overall (tho the smacked-up guys in charge of a tank did make me laugh a fair bit - just the idea of that. Classy)

So over-all: Good fun hard knocks. Won't knock your socks off but should tickle your feet some.




there's a frog in my snake oil
In the Mood for Love



Oh my god what a beautiful film.

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This is an unrequited love story set in Hong Kong in the sixties, and everything about it aches. It aches in an expanding, loving, all embracing way. It slumbers and peaks painfully. It's god damn beautiful.
The two main characters live next door to each other in a slightly delapidated building. Married in traditional Hong Kong society, the woman's clothes may be striking sixties, the man's work-clothes a sharp shirt and tie, but the values are back-room whispers, the norms that clasp any society to their brest, no matter how progressive it all might seem. A friendship of sorts strikes up between them. They both share a love of films and script-writing, though you wouldn't know it at first from their oriental evasion and conceits. Their partners unseen for different reasons, the two strike up a shy kinship. They write together, but nothing is happening of course - yet they take every step to hide their meetings.

But this is no self-referential film about film-making. It's a sumptuosly filmed story, yes. The editing echoes actions, the characters are self-conscious, the translations seem to fit perfectly with mood and context, and the wording is exquisitly balanced. But this isn't about what you write on the page. It's about the spaces inbetween. And these two actors draw round those spaces beautifully, draw through them and dissect them, and so have no need to spell it out. This is an exquisitely acted film.

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And for that reason, and others, I can't tell you more. The reason for their meetings is a subplot barely worth mentioning. Their reticence an expression of their time. The music sings "perhaps perhaps perhaps", in spanish, with taunting cosmopolitan-ness. And at one point the man shares a thought with a stranger - he talks of the old tradition of carrying a secret into the mountains, carving a hole in a tree, whispering your secret into it, and then covering it with mud. It comes across better the way he says it. And to see what regrets and feelings might be buried in such a place, you'll have to watch it and find out now won't you .

I really really recommend it. (i must admit that i missed the very beginning of it, but there's something about the elongated tone of this movie that, despite the twists and turns that rise up from its yearning, that you can't help but feel you knew it all along)




there's a frog in my snake oil
Captives


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Tim Roth and Julia Ormond are people on either side of a divide. Ormand has lost her marriage, and launches into a new life, taking up work in a prison. Roth has lost his freedom, and is trapped amongst the crazed inmates of that same stark dominion. Both actors provide the perfect faces for the prison mentality, because as Roth says, what you spend your time doing inside is "reading each-other". Ormond is frightened, hurt and yet searching. Roth is fearful, contained and yet asserting.

As a tentative and then passionate relationship evolves, Ormond's fears
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revolve around more than the price of their meeting, and Roth's controlled nature belies what sent him reeling. They are caught in a fraught piece of life forcing through the cracks. An involving dance of compliance and retraction follows, as they size each-other up, and judge how much they're normal lives will put up with this.

There are gangsters and empathies, dangers and vagueries, and all of it makes for some claustrophobic exposure amongst the prison's sterility.

I recommend this piece of long-drawn forlorness, and love-shoot exploringness.

A good, stark, rich, short piece of "life".

(sorry for the rhyming - but alcohol's been rife tonight )




there's a frog in my snake oil
Copland


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A washed-up sheriff watches a bag change hands amongst tales of outlandish contraband in a smokey bar. He sees nothing amiss, as he knocks a pinball aimlessly around it's glittering cage. Because this is the town were New York's finest come to live, and all the faces are familiar protectors of the peace.

But underneath the sleepy safety which the sheriff would happily perceive, there's a whole den of thieves and murderers running around without reprieve.

On this particular night most of the cops are off celebrating a stag do, and it's only when a young nephew of an important cop drives off drunkenly that things start to go awry. After an unlawful killing the cover up begins, which by the end will have whole struts of certainty caving in.

A swathe of familiar swarthy faces crowd round this homely NYPD town. As Sylvester Stallone casts his droopy eyes over the smokey bar, Harvey Keitel runs the whole house of cards, with Robert Patrick and Ray Liotta playing structural parts. Robert Deniro is the fierce Internal Affairs officer doggedly on Keitel's case, and fresh-faced Michael Rapaport the nephew who causes complacency to be displaced.

The sheriff lumbers to the conclusion that all is not well in a way not dissimilar to Stallone's over-weight on-screen wanderings. And in this sense, what the plot somehow lacks in acceleration, it makes up for with a type of muffled anticipation. His partial deafness, from a past act of kindness, is used to good effect to both remind him of what he's lost and to mimick the blindness he's shown in his life.

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That said though, i would have liked something a bit stronger to kick through the sophoriphic sheen that was cast over both town and screen. I felt this was a good movie, well told, but the overall effect didn't inject a steely light of recognition into its well-filmed folds.

Perhaps it's all a fair representation of the ponderous fights which the sheriff's life evolves through. "Being right isn't a bullet proof jacket" he gets told, but that innocence is the gold in his heart we have to respect.

It wasn't deep, but it was kind of replete in it's own "small-town" way.

I give it: one shotgun, two bushy frowns, and a big okay.




there's a frog in my snake oil
Man Without a Past


Ahhh, dark serendipidous Finnish life-comedy. Where would we be without it eh?

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This is the story of a man who gets off a train in a strange city, suitcase in hand, only to get promptly beaten up and left for dead. In fact, he seems to die, having been taken to a hospital. But once the doctor's have left he recovers, and sets about "re-arranging" himself in a grimly comic moment.

Despite the slightly cartoonish handling of these opening scenes, a new form of dark-tied-to-light interactions starts from now on. The first thing that happens is that he falls asleep on a rocky river-bank, and a tramp promptly exchanges shoes with him (plimpsoles for good leather boots). Now all that the nameless man has left is the clothes he lies down in, and the hospital bandages covering his head and face. When two kids run off on seeing he's not dead, it's a pleasant surprise that they return with their father, whose determined wife then nurses him back to health.

The family live in a large metallic container, as do all the people on this rubbled wasteland by the city limits. The nameless man now strikes up a
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curt Finnish-friendship with the family, admitting that he can't remember who he is, having not spoken throughout his recovery. The whole film is punctuated with a mixture of straight-talking and poetic pondering as conversations swing from merciless to motivating reflections on a cruel world.

Many enjoyable twists and turns follow the name-less man's motivated attempts to get on with his life. This is a wonderfully quirky tale, and feels all the more realistic for it, steeped as it is in cold hard realities as well.

I won't tell you how he proceeds from here. I won't tell you about the jibes at the state, the interjections of faith, the love and the hate. I wont tell you about the security guard called "The Whip of God", the Salvation Army band, the nameless man's potato harvest, or the effects when a company disbands. But I will tell you to watch it. It's very very good.




there's a frog in my snake oil
Shaun of the Dead

A little bit of fun from some sitcom comedians...welcome to the first "romcomzom" movie...

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Shaun's life is going nowhere, and his girlfriend is getting more than a little agrieved about it. He spends all his time down the pub with his best mate, and forgets even the simplest things, like their let's-start-again dinner-date. When a zombie plague visits their well-worn bit of suburbia Shaun has just realised he needs to snap out of his own stupour if he's to win back his girl. And survive.
Once it gets going, the first section of the film is spot on. The jokes revolve around the zombie-like aspects of modern life, and how a sudden plague of undeadness might be hard to spot if it happened. From the agonizing "schwip" of Shaun's regulation salesman's tie, to his gormlessness on the early-morning commute to work, the mundaneness of his unambitious life is laid out for us with farcical frivolity. When zombies turn up, and Shaun barely notices, it's the playful bits of social commentary, and the absurdity of it all, that pull out the biggest laughs.

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Unfortunately, the sitcom roots seem to show through a bit, as the comic premises lose some of their strength as the film progresses. There are still plenty of nice little jokes dotted around, but after a while it's the references and the horror-aspects itself which have to carry the film. And to be fair, they achieve a couple of good scares, and even have some truly effective and involving scenes. But overall the mix of comedy and horror does feel a bit clunky in places. The classic ending brings the comedy surging back to life though, with an absolutely quality assessment of the aftermath.


Rating:
Some Gremlin titters, one exploding belly laugh, several chunks of nostalgia cut into neat brain pieces, and a brimming pint glass.




there's a frog in my snake oil
Man With a Movie Camera


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Ok, i cheated and watched a musically-supplemented version of this silent, story-less Russian film from 1929 (the Ninja Tunes label added a good, if not always suitable, jazz-funk-"orchestra" soundtrack - which at least keeps the A.D.D. generation happy eh? )

Basically, this film contains marvellous naturalism of subject matter combined with "state-of-the-art" 30s camera trickery. It's a bizarre mixture. One minute the filmmakers are transporting you with their finely crafted shots, the next they're showing you a cameraman amongst the scene. One minute they're creating a hypnotic tempo with their editing, the next they're showing you the editor at work, splicing the shots.

And the playfulness and contrasts continue....We are reminded of the "magical" abilities of the camera (by slowing events down to single shots, playing with time, entrancing the viewer in various ways)...only for this miraculous output to be used to extol the magical abilities/effects of modern tools around us, as the editor is compared to a woman using an industrial sewing set-up etc.

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From dancing stop-motion cameras to crowd montages, the ingenuity brings to mind the experimental masterpiece Metropolis. Altho these guys are trying to tell a different tale. They're mainly observing. Couples getting married. Babies being born. A bruised and broken man being put into an ambulance. There's something refreshing about seeing real scenes amongst their sheeny mastery of the filmmakers tools. And indeed, they remind us, with the reflection/transposition of an eye onto a camera's lense, hungrily staring at all the scenes, that as much as the camera can disect, it can also bend and distend.

I think they really just wanted to extol Russia and Russian filmmaking. I think they did a good job of that, and ended up exploring the nature of people, perception and film in general too.




Hey Golgot, nice to meet you for once.

I read a few of your reviews and i think i must check out

Buffalo Soldiers, In the Mood for Love and The Man Without a Past and i've already saw Shaun of the Dead and loved it.

I've been meaning to rent The Man Without a Past ever since Sam did a review on it.

Well, i have something to rent tomorrow when i go to the Video Store. Im usually don't know what to get.

Great reviews by the way.



there's a frog in my snake oil
White Chicks

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Woah, i had a real problem with this one. Not something i would've chosen to see, but seeing as i have...

Here's a brief plot summary:

Two black FBI agents keep messing missions up by trying to do everything themselves. When they crash a car while transporting two spoilt rich white girls who are targeted for kidnapping, they decide to take the places of their bruised charges at a high-profile gathering. Cue pisstakes of priviliged society, racial stereotypes and other easy targets.

And here's my reactions:

-The general generic comedy is pure ****e. Animal stunts. Fart jokes. Slipping on spilt beads. Animal infatuation. Laughing at unfunny jokes in the hope that they become funny. The Wayans brothers's stuff at its worst.

-Some of the all-purpose parodies of race and 'class' are kind of amusing. Whether it's the white airhead heiresses or the black football 'turncoat', there are some good performances and occasional spot-on jokes.

-And now the big problem....

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i came away with the feeling that they'd mashed too many ideas/cinema-cliches together, and whether through accident or design, conscious intent or unconscious belief, one of the results was that the idea of White was aligned too closely with the closer-to-reality idea of white-dominated-wealth-and-power.

What i'm saying is: the imaginary, unifying, perception of a skin-tone/broad group (Whiteness - as in the Blackness that was parodied in Bamboozled) was aligned too closely with realities that are only true for a minority.

I got a feeling that, beneath the shallowness and simplicty of much of the presentation and humour, there was an assumption that it's ok to lump all whites in with the white-dominated power-structures of many multi-'cultural' countries like the US and UK.

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That, to me, came close to racism. Damn close.

I feel, as distance from this mainly derivative and only-occasionally-creative comedy-lite takes hold, that i may just be reacting to the novel situation of my skin-tone being the main focus of broad-stereotypes (the black characters were much more diverse and potentially-intelligent in nature than all the other characters). But i still question whether there isn't a negative trend going on here, that reinforces stereotypes that cut deep, under the broad fluffy fleece which was presented to us.

Thoughts?

Is it ok to lump an idea of what 'Whiteness' is in with the fact that white races still hold majority priviliged positions in the biggest english-speaking societies - and have been responsible for great oppresion of black races?

Is that ok? Or is that damaging?

This was a throw-away comedy. But i think that that particular issue pulsing beneath it's skin can do more long-term harm than good. Especially when it's blurred amongst easy-access/rough-and-ready comedy veneers.

(it gets that for making me experience what it's like to have my whole 'race' sweepingly belittled)



there's a frog in my snake oil
Originally Posted by Zzat
Hey Golgot, nice to meet you for once.

I read a few of your reviews and i think i must check out

Buffalo Soldiers, In the Mood for Love and The Man Without a Past and i've already saw Shaun of the Dead and loved it.

I've been meaning to rent The Man Without a Past ever since Sam did a review on it.

Well, i have something to rent tomorrow when i go to the Video Store. Im usually don't know what to get.

Great reviews by the way.
Cheers man

They're all quite distinct. I'm really looking forward to 2046, the next one by Kar Wai Wong, the maker of In the Mood for Love (using the same cinematographer again, Christopher Doyle, who did such good things on Hero too) . His work just seems to get better and better.

If you like Buffalo Soldiers you'll probably like Two Hands as well.



there's a frog in my snake oil
Dancer in the Dark


Selma is a Czechoslovakian immigrant who claims a musical star for a father, and holds a stern but passionate love for her only son Gene. Despite her failing eyesight, and the troubles
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it causes her in her monotonous factory job, Selma almost always has a smile playing about her lips, and a positive take on events. Even when being strict with the disatisfied Gene, she has trouble not letting her fondness shine through. And the rest of the time, Selma brings joy to backwater 50's community she lives in. From her anti-Communist boss to her bashful admirer Jeff, everyone melts in the face of her determined dreaminess. Even the brisk and forthright Kathy can't help but smile and support her clumsy friend, despite refusing to answer to Selma's playful Czech nickname for her (which means "big and happy", on the inside).

When we first see Selma she is rehersing her starring role in a local production of The Sound of Music. Music and dance are what keep her steps so light even amongst her heavy workload and life. Living almost like a pet dog in her modest shack on the land of a local police officer, she takes the patronising treatment of his wife, and the privations of her poverty, with positive equanimity.

One day her friend the policeman shares a secret with her, and she returns the favour. He has squandered his inheritence and is unhappy in his marriage. She has been squirriling away a large amount of money, not sending it to her father as she'd claimed. The story is now set for trials and tests, driven by the rhythm of life's constant quirky steps.

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The film starts with dark and brooding music and flower-like images, which finally lift into a spritely music and a brightly lit, almost childishly scrawled, image. During the story the style makes occasional dramatic shifts, from Von Trier's wandering camera tracking the grind of daily life, to the smoothly sheened technicolour world of Selma's daydreams. In real life Selma needs people like Kathy to be her "eyes", interpreting her beloved musicals now they are just a blur on the screen. In her dreamworld we glimpse the self-sufficency and strength that endear her to others. Her ability to leap into a world song and sunshine at the darkest moments will be tested as her life changes for the worse. But this kernal of her being comes from the music of the world around her, and it is not just the escapism it might seem.

I thought this was a great film. I had reservations, and they were won over. I didn't think it was perfect, but i think a flawless version might have killed it.

Even the well-worn sources of Selma's inspiration were well used. The use of factory and train rhythms might have made me groan, if they
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weren't used so well, showing the different tones and tenors of Selma's dreamscape. And even more so by the end.

Previously i've been annoyed by Bjork's apparently limited style, and at first i was thinking her london-influenced accent was going to ruin the film for me. By the end she'd taken me fully in escapism, and back again, grounding it in something real. By the end she'd shown a voice that could be startling on its own - ferocious, powerful yet clear. She did herself exceptionally proud, and made this film come alive.

Beyond those criticisms, that turned into compliments, i thought this was beautiful sadness, made joyful, made real. There was criticism and celebration. Castigation of greed, and a planting of seeds. Von Triers dancing camera still steered me to where he wanted me to be. Which is in the wide-open space of interpretation, but aware you can't really roam free.

"They say it's the last song
They don't know us, you see
It's only the last song
If we let it be"




there's a frog in my snake oil
Kitchen Stories


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Objective Sixties science meets fabulously flawed humans in this sly slice of Scandanevian humour

Plotty bit:
A set of Swedish scientists have been examining the movements of housewives going through their average routines, with the aim of organising kitchens more efficiently. All has gone smoothly with the first stage of their clinical plans, but things are about to go awry.

A small entourage of objective observors pack up their clipboards and sliderules and observational high-chairs (which allow them to watch the kitchen scurryings of their subjects from a God-like distance), and head off to Norway to monitor some willing male kitchen-users.

The investigations are immediately left in the hands of a dour deputy when the project's leaders disappears to lead the academic high-life (which involves a private plane and some non-kitchen-bound female groupies). Isolated by a desolate and wintery Norweigan landscape, the project grumbles into life. An observor named Folke is given a difficult charge named Isak, and it takes him a long time to even gain admission
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to the house. By the time he has established himself he finds the wayward old man so exasperating that he's constantly longing to head out to his one-man caravan and disappear into his own world of music, food and solitude. The old man is equally affected, changing his routine because of this peculiar presence in his house. It's not long, however, before constant contact between the gruff resident and the distracted observor leads to them interacting. As the flustered project-deputy struggles to stop other observors engaging in human contact with their hosts, Folke and Isak strike up a shy friendship which brings their apparently disparate lives into line.

Review-ish bit:
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This movie is beautifully poised, maintaining a gentle but quirky feel throughout. The slow strikes of the directors brush paint with such an aptly-judged rhythm that it's a joy to watch the resulting picture form. You shouldn't have any trouble watching this particular canvas dry.

There's a slightly ambiguous homoerotic undertone to it (or at least i thought there was. But then again, i thought Isak might've been romantically involved with his horse before Folke came along). It would've been nice to see the same themes explored (isolation, companionship, inter-connectedness, the impossibility of true objectivity, modern-vs-rustic, crossing boundaries etc), but with a strong female presence too. But that's the only criticism i could level at this clockwork fruitcake of a film (if criticism it be).

I give it: A caravan's worth of Sixties silliness, four golden silences, and a big jar of ice-melting roll-mop herrings




A system of cells interlinked
How did I miss this?

Someone has been hard at work it seems...

Clever stuff, these reviews.
__________________
"There’s absolutely no doubt you can be slightly better tomorrow than you are today." - JBP



Standing in the Sunlight, Laughing
Hey, these are great, Gg!
Nice writing and I'm enjoying your observations.
Agreed, every word, on In The Mood For Love. That is such a beautiful film.
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Review: Cabin in the Woods 8/10



there's a frog in my snake oil
Cheers guys

They were all sort of hanging around the place (from back when i had more time ). Fortunately, i found some compressed time in a small box under my desk, and used it to string 'em all together and add pictorial delights (and then felt fully justified in going off and mauling the miscellaneous forum again )



Holy ****! I had no idea...the next half hour of my life is planned out. Bask in the glory of the man named...Golgot?

What kind of friggin' name is that anyway?

I rarely see you around, my friend. I'm glad you gave these to us.
__________________
"Today, war is too important to be left to politicians. They have neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought. I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids."



there's a frog in my snake oil
Comandante


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Step through the looking-glass and enter Fidel's 'Wonderland'


The Pitch:
Oliver Stone wants to give Fidel Castro the chance to express himself emotionally, politically and philosophically in front of an eager camera. His ideal is to watch Castro going through his daily life. His pitch is that Fidel gets to be both an actor and a documentary subject - but there-in lies the catch. Fidel can both expound and emote, he can justify his life's work for the camera, but he must also be at Stone's beck and call - he must answer the wide-ranging questions put before him.


Review-ish bit:
Fidel proves adept at doing all of these things. He has one other power granted too him though, beyond his existing ability to intimidate Stone with his physical presence, and to entrance him with his renowned charisma. Fidel can call cut at any time, just as Stone can. But he never chooses to.
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If nothing else, this is an intriguing insight into Fidel the man. See him as dictator or see him as patriarch, as misguided or astute (and personally, i see him as all of these things ), it's fascinating just to watch the wiley old octagenarian operate.
No one could accuse Oliver Stone of being the most accute of political commentators, and his questions prove that, but his unfettered pursuit of understanding, his appreciation of the dynamics of conflict, and his respect for strength amongst uncertainty all combine to make this an effective documentary. His questions are sometimes wayward, but they do prompt an intriguing bredth of responses from Fidel, and manage to discomfort him and catch him off guard, without ever losing his consistant participation.
Stone filmed for three days. During that time he overcame his feelings of intimidation, asked the questions he wished to ask, and got part of his wish fulfilled to see the ageing idealist-authoritarian in action.
All of this becomes clear on Stone's expansive commentary contained on the DVD version of this semi-supressed gem. You get some sterling insights into some forgotten aspects of Cuban history and progression, and further insights into Stone's nature as well. From the fact that he went out and partied some nights (and was in a right state during the 'spontaneous' tours the next morning) you gather that he's not the most rigorous or dispassionate of men or documentarians. From his human connection with Fidel, you see why he's also brought out genuine responses from actors, audiences and dictators, and will most likely do so again.

It's frustrating that Stone doesn't really push Fidel on certain points, but instead launches into tangental lines of pursuit just when things look promising. He assures us on the commentary that he takes a harder line in a later documentary, Looking for Fidel, which focused much more rigorously on recent incidents and political history. Stone's obvious regret at having offended Fidel during this later meeting shows that he has become emotionally involved with his subject, but his overall
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appraisals of Cuba's past and present show he's not an apologist for the regime.
If anything, Stone is an anti-apologist for the US, and for other nations who he sees as overly aggressive in the pursuit of profit over the national-spirit and social-care that he does seem to hold in high esteem in Cuba.
He provides plenty of welcome refreshers in both the film and commentary on intriguing events like: the embargoes which pushed them into alliance with Communist USSR; the Cuban's non-profit defence of Angola against South African invasion; and recent Bush-admin attempts to paint Cuba with the WMD brush. Make what you will of these and other examples of what drives and forms Cuba to this day.

Fidel is a prolific and unremitting publicist for 'The Revolution', but it's fascinating to see him 'embody' it, striving to justify, or at least explain, every action, all apparently in the name of ensuring its legacy (in the eyes of Stone, the camera, and posterity). Stone may have an agenda too, but it's fascinating to see him letting it evolve.

My Verdict: Who wouldn't pay to see two bulls in a pen - if they've paid their own admission, and are discussing life and politics as well .




Is it just me, or does Fidel Castro bear a striking resemblance to Don Quixote (as played by Jean Rochefort in the film Lost in La Mancha)? Check it out:




there's a frog in my snake oil
Originally Posted by darkhorse
Is it just me, or does Fidel Castro bear a striking resemblance to Don Quixote (as played by Jean Rochefort in the film Lost in La Mancha)? Check it out:
The old boy certainly does tilt, my dear Djangles, (i think he's bounced off the odd giant along the way though too)