In November 1958, the American teenager Katey Miller moves with her parents and her younger sister to Havana. Her father is an executive of Ford expatriated to Cuba, and Katey is an ...
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In November 1958, the American teenager Katey Miller moves with her parents and her younger sister to Havana. Her father is an executive of Ford expatriated to Cuba, and Katey is an excellent high school senior student that misses her friends. The family is lodged in a fancy hotel, where Katey accidentally meets the local teenage waiter Javier Suarez. Later she sees Javier dancing in a public square and they become friends, but he is fired from the hotel because her acquaintances have seen them together. Katey invites Javier to participate of a Latin Ballroom Contest in the local Palace club to help him to raise some money, and she secretly meets him in the La Rosa Negra nightclub for rehearsals. Later they fall in love for each other in times of revolution.Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The movie was filmed in Puerto Rico, and made to look like Cuba. Most of it was done in the colonial part of San Juan, Old San Juan, a very popular hangout for Puerto Ricans, and a very touristy area. In order to maintain the look and esthetic of the pre-Cuban revolution era, producers secured underground parking places for people that would visit Old San Juan during the shoot, so that there wouldn't be any modern cars parked in the streets. See more »
When Javier is getting ready to go to the dance-off, he puts on his brother's suit coat twice. See more »
[Everyone moves to give a couple room to dance]
Raul y Esmeralda. King and Queen of La Rosa Negra. When they dance, the floor is theirs.
You're as good a dancer as he is.
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My biggest gripe with this movie is that the Latin dancing is not very genuine. My father was living in Havana in the early 1960s, and reports what seems pretty obvious: this film is full of a modern, highly stylized and "hip-hoppified" version of Cuban street dancing.
But, there is a lot of other stuff to gripe about in this film.
Plot: our heroine is an American gringa whose family moves to pre-revolutionary Cuba because her dad's company promoted him to a position there. We don't know anything about our heroine (let's call her "La Gringa Caliente," because she eventually learns to loosen up and let strange men touch her butt), except that she gets good grades. So, she moves to Havana and becomes mesmerized by afro-Cubano dancing. This leads her to fall madly in love with a waiter in her hotel, and enter a dance tournament with him. Her family is scandalized. Then they are not scandalized any more.
The plot is totally predictable, and the acting is downright bad. The love story lacks guts. None of that matters if what you want is to see cool Latin dancing and listen to cool Latin music, which was my goal. But, even that goal is sadly disappointed here. There is some cool music, but most of the music is just hip-hop with a Latin beat. A lot of the dancing is just 2000's club freak-dancing... it looks more like Lambada than Samba.
The three features that pushed me from silent disappointment to derisive laughter were:
(1) They make a big deal about "Old Havana," and show all of these landscape shots to impress the viewer. But the city they are showing is San Juan, Puerto Rico! This might not be so obvious, but they show the most famous landmarks in San Juan, so that you cannot possibly even pretend the setting is Havana. So much for the "Havana Nights."
(2) For some God-awful reason, they throw Patrick Swayze back in! First of all, his character has no role, no background, and no reason to be there. He plays the gringo dance teacher who somehow teaches La Gringa Caliente how to loosen up and let guys touch her butt (he has a great line: "It can be very scary when someone touches that part of your body." who wrote this?). They dance around ballroom style. Second, the guy has had a really bad face-lift or something. He was only 52 when this film came out, but he looks 65. I was worried that his hairpiece was going to come flying off during some of the spins.
(3) The pathetically weak attempt to illustrate the social pressures that led to the Cuban revolution left in me stitches.
Conclusion: stink bomb. If you want a movie with cool Cuban music, rent Buena Vista Social Club. If you want to watch cool Latin dancing, rent the 1980s Robby Rosa film "Salsa!" If you have a desperate need to get rid of four dollars and be bored for 90 minutes, rent "Dirty Dancing Havana Nights."
17 of 25 people found this review helpful.
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