Aging Cuban musicians whose talents had been virtually forgotten following Castro's takeover of Cuba, are brought out of retirement by Ry Cooder, who travelled to Havana in order to bring the musicians together, resulting in triumphant performances of extraordinary music, and resurrecting the musicians' careers.
A group of legendary Cuban musicians, some as old as their nineties, were brought together by Ry Cooder to record a CD. In this film, we see and hear some of the songs being recorded in Havana. There is also footage from concerts in Amsterdam and New York City's Carnegie Hall. In addition, many of the individual musicians talk about their lives in Cuba and about how they got started in music.Written by
George S. Davis
So a man who chases an enthusiasm for Cuban music and ends up spending his own resources to record and popularize a bunch of musicians who would have died in obscurity otherwise, takes great pains to present the music in a relatively unaltered state (unlike some such other world music experimenters like Sting and Paul Simon), and even removes much of his own contributions from the recording mix, is a self-aggrandizing cultural imperialist. The proof of the man's real intentions lies on the disc, an understated and moving documentation of a era that got plowed under by the cold war.
As for the film, indeed it's not perfect. It would be nice to have full songs, but they decided not to go with a strict concert film and concentrate on the project and the stories behind it. If you want more, the CD is easily available and highly recommended. When I saw this movie at the Lincoln Plaza cinema in Manhattan, I decided when the movie ended to trek over a few blocks to the local record store to see if they had the Cd in stock, As I walked down the street, I noticed that most of the people who had just seen the film were going the same way, and indeed, appeared to have the same idea I did (it was a packed show, by the way). It is perhaps a weakness of the film that it depends on the album for it's interest and power, but it is a loving document of the process.
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