Monday, August 23, 2010

Things I Left In Havana (1997)

Veteran director Manuel Gutierrez Aragon provided a portrait of Cubans in Spain with this Spanish film, a winner of the Silver Spike at the 1997 Valladolid Film Festival. Three sisters -- aspiring actress Nena (Violeta Rodriguez), timid Ludmila (Broselianda Hernandez), and motherly Rosa (Isabel Santos) -- travel from Havana to Madrid to stay with their aunt Maria (Daisy Granados). Aboard the same plane is Barbaro (Luis Alberto Garcia), who stays with penniless but streetwise Igor (Jorge Perugorria), a man who thinks sleeping with Spanish women is the route to upward mobility. The impoverished Igor also creates forged passports to help others depart for Miami. The three girls move in with Maria, who lives downstairs from her friend Azucena (Kiti Manver). Minus papers, the trio is employed at Maria's fur shop. Matchmaker Maria brings Rosa together with awkward Javier (Pepon Nieto), but Javier goes for Nena instead. So does Igor after he spots Nena in a Cubano bar. Igor sleeps that night at Azucena's place, and the proximity to the sisters during the long night's journey into day makes a commotion and fracas almost a certainty. The film's music blends rumba, bolero, and tango. ~ Bhob Stewart, All Movie Guide

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 110 mins
Things I Left In Havana (1997)

Dust Jacket:
Funny, poignant, and refreshing. THINGS I LEFT IN HAVANA sensitively explores the sense of loss felt by immigrants who discover that their dreams come with a high price. Three Cuban sisters come to Spain in search of a better life, but they must contend with exploitation and seduction as they pursue the capitalist dream.

Forced by their aunt (Daisy Grenados) to work in her fur store, they are each in turn seduced by Igor,a dashing gigolo who barters sexual favors for the freedom in America that exit visas provide.

Actually, the movie is more about how to get legal papers so they can work in Spain and I saw no real mention of "America". Igor although a gigolo has serious cash flow problems as the girls do also.

Javier is seduced by the timid Ludmila, after being rudely rejected by Nena in public with Igor. She asks about his experiences in seeing naked women and he finally confesses that he has only seen his mother naked and at which time she slaps him. He remembers the way the breasts swayed back and forth. Ludmila then proceeds to show one breast and let him squeeze it a bit and then plays with his chest.

Basically a cute movie and the reviews are right that there is a conflict on what to do. Although Ludmila refuses to go back and as such she takes on the responsibilities that Rosa fails at to make sure that the family has money, Nena has doubts and thinks about going back after her struggles to get papers and to find rewarding work for an actress. She also is upset with her director as he waters down the script and makes it more pro-capitalistic.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Berkeley in the Sixties (1990)

Berkeley in the Sixties takes a fond, if not always loving, look back at the epicenter of leftist political activism during the seventh decade of the 20th century. The free speech movement caught national attention in 1964 when the University of California tried to suppress activists distributing literature and making speeches in an outdoor plaza on campus. On December 3, Governor Edmund "Pat" Brown ordered the arrest of demonstrators who had occupied the University's Sproul Hall; over 1,500 protestors were taken into custody in what was then the largest mass arrest in U.S. history. The escalation of the Vietnam War kept the winds of dissent blowing in Berkeley, and TV coverage of the 1964 demonstrations and subsequent clashes with the police fueled similar protests on other campuses. Off-campus, Berkeley was also home to a strong chapter of the Black Panther Party, which offered a more violent alternative to the established civil rights organizations. Vintage clips of the demonstrations and official reactions to them from Brown and his successor, Ronald Reagan, are supplemented by contemporary interviews with activists and observers who offer both reminiscences of and perspectives on the period. ~ Tom Wiener, All Movie Guide

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 117 mins
Berkeley in the Sixties (1990)

A more balanced approach of the subject than I originally thought it would be. Maybe one reason that I had not heard it mention as often as the other radical documentaries like The Weather Underground (2003), and Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst (2003).

The archival footage is worth just watching that. Including a longer version in the special features of Ronald Reagan giving a speech about the radicals at Berkeley. I think he was right what he said although on some level of course the students had some rights to express their opinions.

Special Features:
There were certainly lots of special features segments but sadly no running commentary. Some of the additional clips did have some small statement about the individual clips in text.

1. Archival Gems:
A. Kennedy Girls-"A clip from the 1960 television news documentary called "Youths in Politics"," singing "High Hopes".
B. Free Speech Movement Victory Celebration. Gloating basically and ironically arranged just before the humbled Hells Angels' clip.
C. Hell Angels' Press Conference. "The Hells Angels attack the first march against the war in Vietnam. A month later, when another march occurs, the Hells Angels are ordered by the court to stay away. So they call a press conference at their bail bonds-woman's office, hosted by Sonny Barger, head of the Oakland Chapter. Pay attention to the line at the end; the picture cuts away but the audio is priceless."
I was unaware of their objection of the anti-war crusaders. They make it appear that the HA were randomly picked out. I am sure that somehow the anti-war groups must have appealed to the courts. "People's have been calling us that for years." in reference to a question about being guerrillas in North Vietnam. Anyway, this does point out the irony that certain groups "free speech" was violated to promote the whims of the "Free Speech Movement". LOL.
D. Friends of Lone Ranger Rally. Idiots talk about "Yellow Submarine".
E. Ken Kesey {leading figure of the counter-culture} @ Acid Test Graduation. Perplexed!? Just a bus with the slogan on side and an interview with reporters. Just publicity stunt and even most in the present time carry it off better with actual "testers" showing up.
F. "Tim Leary's strange journey from Harvard researcher to LSD guru led him to San Francisco and some provocative pronouncements." Which was 22 seconds of "learn from your kids and turn on to LSD".
G. Robert Mitchum {stranger argument?} on Vietnam. "Can't pull out of human race." But then he does say drop the bomb on them if they can't behave.
H. "Grow Up!" "As governor, Ronald Reagan battled student unrest at Berkeley and elsewhere throughout the '60s. His most famous comment- "If it takes a bloodbath, let's get it over with"-we could not find on film. But we found lot of other barbs, including this favorite."
Makes me wonder if he actually said it and if so, what was the context. Certainly agree with "Grow up!" though.
I. Runaway Girls {Haight-Ashbury}. Sandra Smith {14} ran away 3 times and showed that she was a truly confused child.
J. Joan Baez at Stop the Draft Week. Two and half minutes of rough cut outtakes and Joan chewing bubble gum and then being arrested.
K. Black Panthers' Free Breakfast Program. "The Black Panthers ran a free breakfast program for kids. Here you'll see part of a story about it, a taste of Revolutionary zeal or absurdity."
Black is beautiful! But they are not "black" just as I am not "white".

2. Deleted Scenes
A. Beginnings of a Student Movement
B. "Don't Trust Anybody Over Thirty"
C. Continuation of the Anti-War Movement Scene.
D. "A Bunch of Beatniks, Radicals and Filthy Speech Advocates...". Ad homs against Ronald Reagan.
E. The Rise of Black Power.
F. The Mood of '68-A Tale of Two Campaigns. Or in other words the violence and destruction of the Democratic Party from the beatniks, radicals and filthy speech advocates... LOL. It was over 10 minutes of length, and some brief nudity-floppy tits bouncing.
G. First Stab at an Ending. True but when a film about peace using brutal and militaristic language, we have to wonder if it was truly based on peace, no?> Admitting that the movement transformed into "petty bourgeoisie" and petty capitalism as well as the stereotypical drugs, sex and rock and roll-or the description that Reagan gave them. Delusional talk about how they actually changed the direction of the war. If nothing else, I think they actually hurt ending the war. But that is something that I need to analyze that question in more depth.

3. Archival Photo Gallery {Collection of photos around the same places and events as the film.}
4. Original Theatrical Trailer
5. Trailer Gallery:
A. The Trials of Henry Kissinger ***
B. 42UP
C. Fighter