Cinematographer Carlos Macovich met Yuliet Ortega, a young "jinetera" (prostitute) from Havana, when he shot a video in Cuba, starring model Fabiola Quiroz. When he realized that the two ... See full summary »
Cinematographer Carlos Macovich met Yuliet Ortega, a young "jinetera" (prostitute) from Havana, when he shot a video in Cuba, starring model Fabiola Quiroz. When he realized that the two women had not seen their respective fathers for many years, he made this documentary, which is also a reflection on the process of filmmaking. Written by
Edgar Soberón Torchia <email@example.com>
When Yuliet Ortega sees her name written on the screen as "Juliette", the way director Carlos Marcovich thought it was written, she angrily writes on top of it with her name the way she spells it, so it reads on screen "¿Quién diablos es Yuliet?" - arguably the correct title. See more »
This doc won a lot of awards, largely, I think, because it's 'different,' in that it doesn't follow the usual narrative arc of documentary film-making. Its greatest achievement, in my mind, is that it doesn't rely on the usual rogue's gallery of talking heads that consume three-quarters of most documentaries.
Depending on your mood, 'Who the Hell, etc.' can be engaging and even dazzling. Some of the cinematography, particularly around Havana's iconic Malecon seawall, is spectacular. When I discovered that Mexican director Carlos Marcovich is a music video specialist, why was I not surprised? The film is loaded with signature cinematography that appeals to the MTV mobs: panorama shots, razzle-dazzle hand-held work, fast cuts and clips, alternating black&white/colour, faces that suddenly appear and speak, five different locations (we're not sure at one point if we're in Mexico City or Havana), and a 'story line' that is often confusing.
Juliette is, in 1995, a 16-year-old Havana prostitute who is a study in contrasts. Her mother died violently when she was two years old, and her father left for the U.S. a year earlier. She is a child of the streets who can be be endearingly playful yet often irritating; she mixes delightful youthfulness with a maturity beyond her years. Toward the end of the film, she finally goes to Mexico City to visit her father Victor, whom she has not seen since she was a year old. Needless to say, it's an awkward reunion.
This can be interesting film, particularly when the often-impish Juliette tries to explain her philosophy of being. In the end, we can answer the question 'Who is Juliette?' by saying, 'We're not really sure because she doesn't know who she is herself, but she's trying'.
A huge let-down on the DVD extras is a 2006 update on Juliette, replete with footage of an ailing Fidel Castro. But it's entirely in Spanish, with no subtitles, and my rudimentary knowledge of the language left me befuddled. It was a huge -- and insulting -- mistake by the distributors, who had no trouble providing full subtitles for the film itself. This often happens with extras on DVDs -- crucial subtitles are missing. It's inexcusable.
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