Episodic look at the life of Cuban poet and novelist, Reinaldo Arenas (1943-1990), from his childhood in Oriente province to his death in New York City. He joins Castro's rebels. By 1964, ...
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An Innuit hunter races his sled home with a fresh-caught halibut. This fish pervades the entire film, in real and imaginary form. Meanwhile, Axel tags fish in New York as a naturalist's ... See full summary »
Episodic look at the life of Cuban poet and novelist, Reinaldo Arenas (1943-1990), from his childhood in Oriente province to his death in New York City. He joins Castro's rebels. By 1964, he is in Havana. He meets the wealthy Pepe, an early lover; a love-hate relationship lasts for years. Openly gay behavior is a way to spite the government. His writing and homosexuality get him into trouble: he spends two years in prison, writing letters for other inmates and smuggling out a novel. He befriends Lázaro Gomes Garriles, with whom he lives stateless and in poverty in Manhattan after leaving Cuba in the Mariel boat-lift. When asked why he writes, he replies cheerfully, "Revenge." Written by
The director's wife plays Javier Bardem's mother. All of Schnabel's children have bit roles as well. See more »
Walking along streets that collapse from crumbling sewers. Past buildings that you jump to avoid because they will fall on you. Past grim faces that size you up and sentence you. Past closed shops, closed markets, closed cinemas, closed parks, closed cafes. Sometimes showing dusty signs, justifcations: "CLOSED FOR RENOVATION," "CLOSED FOR REPAIRS." What kind of repairs? When will these so-called renovations be finished? When at last will they begin? Closed... closed... closed... everything ...
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The little-discussed topic of the persecution of homosexuals in Castro's Cuba is the prevailing theme throughout Julan Schnabel's masterful film of the life of writer Reinaldo Arenas. But this is far more than a simple piece of political agit-prop; instead, it's a beautifully constructed movie about the artistic temperament but with plenty of the same quality itself; visually, the movie is consistently striking, and yet of a piece. There's also a fine performance from Javier Bardem in the lead role. What the film doesn't do very much is follow it's characters in real time for anything longer than the duration of a snapshot; this slightly distances the viewer from the mechanics of the drama, and in consequence, at times it feels slow. Instead, it communicates through images (and fragments of the writer's own poetry); and the scene where the hot air balloon rises through the roof of a ruined church is so perfectly created it's a work of art in itself. 'Before Night Falls' is not light entertainment; but it's seriously good.
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