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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Redford movies traditionally have strong female characters; Inside Daisy
Clover; This Property Condemned; Out of Africa; Up Close and Personal; The
Horse Whisperer....and this one.
Lena Olin and Redford make me believe these two could fall in love this quickly. I think it got bad reviews because the ending was not male protagonist friendly. Avoiding a spoiler, I love the message here. She is some woman. Loved by two. Loves two. What else could she possibly do? What else could he possibly do? This man, Jack, will be seated facing the door forever. What a love story. Their scenes together are gritty and fleshy and real. Raul Julia's passion echoes the backdrop. Turmoil...in Cuba, and in the hearts of these lovers.
I LOVED IT!!!!
The reviews were horrible when released in 1990. But, what went over the heads of so money people was that this film set at the turning point of 1958 revolution in Cuba was designed to be an over the top romance filled with the style and craft of the early days of cinema. It doesn't matter if it finds inspiration from the crafty Casablanca, one of the best films ever made. Both examine similar themes and play to the adventurer in all of us. Havana is an escapist picture, and both Redford, Olin and Pollack do their jobs here, not to mention a wonderful supporting cast. They transport us to a place rich with color and mystery. Havana is a hidden gem for those who love travel, and spontaneous adventure and love. If you have not seen it, it's well worth the trip to the video store. For those who love Havana and location films I'd highly recommend the independent film "Somewhere," set in Thailand and Malaysia.
Despite being panned by most " sophisticated " critics, this is a darned good movie. OK, it may not be Casablanca, but the two stars are interesting, and the story is a good one. Most of the cast is good, especially Menocal, played by Tomas Milian. The coolest part of this movie is the musical score which seems pretty authentic and gives the flick a lot of atmosphere. Even though it was filmed in the Dominican, most viewers would not care. I truly think this movie will rate better opinions "as time goes by" !! How you gonna beat Redford and Olin ?? The last scene in the movie where Redford goes to the beach in Key West and looks wistfully into the glorious sunset thinking of Bobbi, is one of the better endings of recent movies.
It often seems like some critics chastise Sydney Pollack for inserting
too much political commentary into his movies. "Havana" would be a
prime example. It features frequent Pollack star Robert Redford* as a
gambler who goes to Cuba's capital during the last few days of 1958,
when the revolution is about to triumph. On the way there, he meets
Lena Olin, the wife of revolutionary fighter Raul Julia. Over the
course of the movie, Redford and Olin not only develop a relationship,
but he comes to understand why the revolution is happening.
Maybe the movie does go just a little overboard on politicking. But I would like to pose a question: are we supposed to focus on these sorts of things and totally ignore politics? Would the world be a better place if everyone just blindly accepted every piece of government propaganda? Because it seems to me that part of democracy is that people are supposed to challenge the government if they think that the latter is lying. Therefore, I have to commend Sydney Pollack for doing that in "Havana".
Another thing is that it seems like this movie was a semi-remake of Richard Lester's "Cuba", starring Sean Connery as a British agent sent there on the verge of the revolution's triumph and discovering the status quo. Even if it is, I still recommend it.
Also starring Alan Arkin (his character is very likely to make your skin crawl) and Richard Farnsworth.
*Interestingly, they haven't collaborated since this movie.
Substitute Jack (gambler) for Rick (cafe owner). Then, Bobby (wife of Arturo) for Ilsa. Finally, Arturo(revolutionary) for Victor. I think you end end up with a modern-day "Casablanca". Of course some would say it's mixing apples (Nazis) and oranges (Communists). But I think the plot outline and ultimate goal of the hero risking his life to save the lives of the heroine and her husband are similar. Not only did Jack find his soul but found the love that was missing all his life. Like Rick, in the end Jack did the right thing. Also, some of the scenes reminded me of the Godfather, Part II. The film could have been edited a little better. Overall, I thought it was a very entertaining film.
I watched this movie in 93 because i was working in the casino and of course Robert Redford, one of my favorite actor. i was expecting not very big performance but i noticed that movie was excellent as it run. Actually it's best the movie ever made which describes what a real love is, although the final is drastic. On the other hand it's a good political review of the 50s between Comies & Independent followers. So it is a good movie if you spend your time with your lover after a romantic dinner and then sit and watch that spectacular movie with 2 glasses of wine. Some little action & non-boring movie even if it's 108 minute long.
I just saw this one again on DVD and was surprised at how good it was.
The acting, story and environment made it very easy to follow what was
going on. I fail to see big holes in the plot: the characters are very
well developed. What is created is a very sweet romantic thriller in a
historical setting - the viewer knows that the revolution will take
place so that part is anti-climatic.
The film didn't attempt to make the revolutionaries into the good guys - Batista's forces did come across as corrupt and arrogant though.
One mistake: Redford's character convinces the security chief he works for the CIA which is implausible since he's supposedly on assignment in Cuba and doesn't speak Spanish.
Beautiful romance set in The Pearl of the Antilles, as Cuba was called
before commies turned it into fido's island gulag.
In Havana, Hollywood spares us its tedious fantasies of commies good and we bad. Havana is an elegant film whose reds seem a chaotic pile of unwashed, B.O.-plenty scurfs. Authors, Dr. Mario Lazo and Guillermo Cabrera Infante tell us all we need to know about castro's Cuba. The Cuban people have suffered under this monstrous regime since 1959. No matter, see Havana for the fine film it is.
Havana's worth watching for the scenery alone, and the rest is gripping as well. Was Havana filmed in Florida and the Dominican Republic? Would love to know for certain. Havana, San Juan, and Santo Domingo, I believe are the three tropical cities each one guarded by a Moro Castle.
Mark Rydell appears briefly, playing Meyer Lansky. His speech to Jack Weil and Joe Volpe - a real person, by the by, - well explains why Cubans who yearn for freedom nonetheless don't want the return to Cuba of any mafioso, be they gangsters or 'legit' BigKorpseorate monopolist greaszeballs or their political handmaidens. They don't get any uglier than Rydell's vigorous portrayal of Lansky, and there's plenty of his type in circulation today.
Check out Daniel Davis' character, CIA Operative Marion Chigwell. Redford confronts, corners, and taunts Davis, then threatens to blow his cover as Davis' eyes turn cobra-like, dark, poised to strike. It' a compelling moment, one of many created by this inspired acting ensemble.
Watch for brilliant character actor Thomas Milian, as he delivers his character, Colonel Menocal's two piercing soliloquys. He pulls no punches, makes us think, and serves as unlikely hero, one of many in Havana. Marion Chigwell, good to his word, delivers the Colonel to freedom.
Freedom is Havana's understated yet powerful theme, one not easily missed.
Dr. Paul Vincent Zecchino
Manasota Key, Florida
30 October, 2007
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I must admit when I saw Havana it came across as a bit boring, but it
was good to see Robert "Sneakers" Redford.
But upon reflection, Havana is a lush, beautiful movie that really captures the atmosphere and scenery of Cuba pre-Castro (who died over the weekend coincidentally). Anyway, Havana was filmed in the Dominican Republic, and kudos to the production team for faithfully recreating Havana pre-Castro.
Maybe Havana will be looked upon more favorably following the passage of time, and who knows, it can be a Netflix series if some imagination and drive can be brought to the table.
This movie is for people who have been in love or like watching movies
about love. Though this movie isn't your cliché type of love story (it
also contains aspects on the Cuban revolution) the chore of the movie
revolves around love.
The movie is about a simple man (Jack) who visits Havana because he loves to gamble, to meet the woman (Roberta) that would change his outlook and life forever. She fights for the resistance, against Batista, while he's not into politics at all. She's married with a man (Arturo) that is the head of the resistance in Havana. When Arturo gets kidnapped and is considered killed, Jack and Roberta have the chance to fall in love. But Jack finds out that Arturo is still alive and faces the choice of letting Roberta go or staying quite...
This is one of the most real, deep and touching love stories I have seen. It contains beautiful poetic dialogues and the acting is great. A beautiful story about the meaning of love, sacrifice combined with the Cuban revolution.
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