Monday, August 10, 2009


Now that I've seen Steven Sodebergh's 4 hour epic about Argentinian communist/revolutionist Che Guevara, I have gathered around concrete thoughts about what it all means & why in the living hell he would release such a thing. First off the accusations that Sodebergh is a communist just based on the fact that he has made a movie entirely about a communist is freakishly funny. As Glenn Kenny pointed out, this is far from being a 'valentine' to the guerrilla leader- it's just a look at a man that won his first revolution but sought out to change the world even more and failed. There is boredom and scenes that don't quite fit- scenes that were just out in the open for historical purposes but when the movies kicks it really kicks. The war zone is populated by desperation and the need to fight for the cause but what sodebergh tries to explore here is how a man that was a hero to millions became an embattled & failed warrior. Castro's Cuba is still Castro's Cuba in 2009- which is why the relevance of this movie is very existant, 50 years later. There is definitely a very mixed feeling in watching a movie this long and this arduous without actually asking yourself- why bother? I cannot complain about something this ambitious and expertly made even if I wouldn't necessarily highly recommend it. The fact that not every one of its 257 minutes gathered on screen works is furstrating- even more frustrating is the fact that the action is almost non existant and its pace asks you to be patient, very. This is not the landmark movie we were all anticipating but Benicio Del Toro's performance is even better that I originally thought it would be- to say he's electrifying would make me sound cliched and full of myself, but he is. Judging by his recent films, Sodebergh does not have the same magic touch he had with his astonishing stretch of films from 1998-2001 (Out Of Sight, The Limey, Traffic, Erin Brokovich & Ocean's Eleven). Since Then he's resorted to Artsy, ambitious fare that has steeped from the mundane to the messy- altough I appreciate his remake of Solaris and the more recent The Girlfriend Experience. Che falls in the middle and -to tell you the truth- I actually can't make up my mind about it. Call this a mixed review.

In which I gracefully ramble on...

Why do so many movies disappoint? The quality and substance is decisively lower and there's no reason in thinking it's getting any better. There were years in which I could actually pick as many as 30 great movies but the times have changed, if I'm lucky I find half that amount these days. I remember 1999, in which movies of startling originality came out every week- American Beauty, Being John Malkovich, Magnolia, Fight Club, The Sixth Sense, Boys Don't Cry to name a few. I find it somewhat disturbing that much of the blame is always layed down on the generalization that Americans are 'stupid' and the notion that everything has to do with the dumbing down of America. Just because well reviewed, smaller movies fail at the box office does not mean it is the public's fault for not listening to critical opinion. Movie critics can only tell you if a movie is good, they do not have the power to put your ass in the seat- contrary to what Roger Ebert thinks in his recent essay on The Hurt Locker's lack of Box Office. The best I can do is tell you what's good and what's worth seeing and mention that quality stuff IS in fact still out there- such as 500 Days Of Summer, Up & Public Enemies.

The days of having one great movie a week are long gone and so, our expectations need to be lowered. It isn't just in North America that civilization and art is declining. Look at the recent Paris Match- in which a nude Sharon Stone makes the cover with a headline title reading '50 and stunning' -Thanks to Glenn Kenny for the worthy example. It's not just happening here, it's happening everywhere and it's been happening for decades. Michael Jackson Dies and the press has a field day. GI Joe & Transformers come out, they skyrocket to the top of every country's box office. The sad truth is we are populated & pummeled by dumbed down art and dumbed down messages. We are a long way from Chaplin trying to get the Flower Girl- instead were in the Transformers era- where everything that's louder, bigger & without message is celebrated. Whereas anything deep, incisive and artful is dismissed as too boring or slow. Sadly, there's no reason to think this is going to change.

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