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
Olivier Martinez's first English-speaking role. Marlon Brando and Al Pacino were offered the role of great Cuban man of letters Lezama Lima. The part was finally played by a friend of Julian Schnabel, who was the Global Art Executive of the David Rockefeller-founded Chase Bank Art Collection. See more »
Leonardo da Vinci was homosexual, so was Michelangelo, Socrates, Shakespeare, and almost every other figure that has formed what we have come to understand as beauty.
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The UK version is cut by 18 secs to remove a shot of a live bird caught in a noose. See more »
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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