In Madrid, the orphan sisters Irene, Ana and Maite are raised by their austere aunt Paulina together with their mute and crippled grandmother after the death of their mother and their ... See full summary »
Marc Cros, an elderly sculptor, lives with his wife Lea in the south of France, safe from the War that rages in the distance. He seems to have reached the end of his life and of his art. ... See full summary »
Paul is young, just demobbed from national service in the French Army, and dishillusioned with civilian life. As his girlfriend builds herself a career as a pop singer, Paul becomes more ... See full summary »
Chico is a young piano player with big dreams. Rita is a beautiful singer with an extraordinary voice. Music and romantic desire unites them, but their journey - in the tradition of the Latin ballad, the bolero - brings heartache and torment.
Stockholm Stories is a contemporary and humorous multi plot drama about five people whose paths cross during a few rainy days in November. Young metropolitan writer Johan, obsessing over ... See full summary »
In 1984, British journalist Arthur Stuart investigates the career of 1970s glam superstar Brian Slade, who was heavily influenced in his early years by hard-living and rebellious American singer Curt Wild.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers,
Mario and Ana, in voluntary exile from Buenos Aires, live in a remote Argentine valley with their 12-year-old son Ernesto. Mario runs a school and a wool cooperative; Ana, a doctor, heads a... See full summary »
"El milagro de Candeal" is a documentary with simultaneous thematic lines, which are its major assets. As it progresses, these themes exclude themselves mutually, and director Fernando Trueba tries hard to integrate them.
At first, it appears as a documentary on religious syncretism: there is copious material to illustrate how a spiritual phenomenon took place in Brazil since the 1700s, combining elements of Yoruba religion with Catholicism. The film is structured around the voyage to Salvador do Bahía of famous Cuban musician Bebo Valdés, who follows the prediction made by a Cuban santera in the 1940s, and goes there to find his roots. The most beautiful sequence is the ritual in homage to Iemanjá, in which believers travelling in boats, throw flowers and wine to the sea; and the most revealing, and without any doubt the most enigmatic to an audience that has never witnessed these manifestations, is the moment when an old lady becomes the vehicle of an orixá (a deity.) But "El milagro de Candeal" is more than that: it is also a reflection on displacement: Valdés had never gone back to Cuba since his exile, and the barrio of Candeal works as the place for his reconciliation, not only with his faith, but with his origins. Since he is a notorious pianist, the musical aspect of his trip is the center. Happy music abounds in Candeal's streets (including one named after Bob Marley), at least from Trueba's point of view: that is what he mostly shows us, although one may hear, here and there, suggestions of social inequity, marginalization and racism.
The description of Candeal's community activities, of public officers, social workers and music teachers, is intense. In all moments, Valdés is a witness or an active participant. He is also a critic, as in the visit he pays to Gilberto Gil, one of the big exponents of the Brazilian new song in the late 1960s, and Ministry of Culture for Lula's government. Valdés comments that the social reforms done in Candeal, would do a lot of good to "Las Antillas" (meaning perhaps Haiti, Dominican Republic, or mainly Cuba.) In "Buena Vista Social Club", the Cuban musicians, in spite of their immense talent, were pieces of the scheme concocted by Wim Wenders and Ry Cooder, and they ended acting as such, losing part of their spontaneity. Trueba gives voice to the Candeal's dwellers, leading to the inauguration of a new plaza they build. Unfortunately, just as in "Buena Vista Social Club", the documentary becomes artificial when it centers on musician Carlinhos Brown, a key figure in the cultural rebirth of Candeal. There is even a carnival sequence with exclusive close-ups for him and the musicians and singers around him, leaving out all the crowds dressed to party, with a soundtrack that sounds prefabricated (or post-fabricated) in a studio. It is followed by something worst: the next morning, when all misery is shown without mercy by the camera. Maybe Trueba's strategy was to show life, beauty, and all that is constructive and positive in human beings, but he betrayed himself in the last moment.
In the final analysis, though, "El milagro de Candeal" is a documentary that should be seen. It is filled with so many priceless images and beautiful musical moments (including an intimate moment with Caetano Veloso singing and playing his guitar), that it is impossible to disregard it as trash.
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