Friday, January 4, 2008

The Future and the Past

Tonight I rented an amazing film from Wild And Woolly Video entitled I Am Cuba, and I'm still watching it right now even as I type. It's a quasi-documentary about life in Cuba, somewhat glorified but breathtaking to watch. Especially the early scenes shot in a crrrrazy tiki-bar casino lounge, and by a poolside beauty contest.

Several scenes in the film are done, a la Hitchcock's Rope, in one super-long continuous shot, without any cuts. How they achieved some of these shots, reportedly done without camera dollies, astounds me. And some scenes for the film were shot during all the chaos of the Cuban Missile Crisis, to boot.

For me, the best part about the film is just the sheer look and feel of it. The wonderful essence of the early 1960s is captured wonderfully here, with the bamboo, the cocktails, the lounge lizards and bar hookers, the cigars, the bikinis, the suits, the sailors, the giant fake tiki heads and outlandish showgirl costumes... my take on it is certainly not what the Cuban and Russian filmmakers intended, but así es la vida. The film's entrancing period visuals represent, for my own aesthetic purposes, what Fidel Castro referred to the "struggle between the future and the past."

- - JSH

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