Google+ Cinema Viewfinder: NYFF Days 2 thru 4 - Notes on Che and a Panel

Monday, September 29, 2008

NYFF Days 2 thru 4 - Notes on Che and a Panel

by Tony Dayoub

Just a short post today since I'm on my way to the Film Forum downtown to catch the restored print of The Godfather Part II. I saw The Godfather there last night and it looked fantastic. Though the Forum does have an appropriately grungy vibe in most cases, I can't say it suits the Godfather films so well, as I was discussing with two fellow film aficionados today, Ron Henriques of Latino Review, and Glenn Kenny from Some Came Running. I'm sorry the venue isn't as vast and palatial as the Ziegfeld, in midtown Manhattan, is. There, we saw an exciting film today, that will no doubt prove to be controversial. It was the full 268-minute version of Steven Soderbergh's Che.

I went with my knife sharpened, I must admit, to the screening. As a first generation Cuban American, I am constantly disappointed to see Ernesto Guevara idolized by the entire world despite some of the atrocities he committed in the name of the Cuban Revolution. I also think the Cuban Right is too quick to ascribe villainous qualities to what I think was simply a misguided idealist. After reading Kenny's review when he first saw the film at Cannes, where despite liking it he stated:

[The film's] structure very conveniently elides the period wherein Che, as effective co-head of Castro's Cuban government, presided over mass executions, the persecution of homosexuals, the ruination of the island's economy, the ill-fated alliance with the Soviet Union, and so on.
I was fearful that Soderbergh would present the same heroic perspective on Guevara that previous stories have. The director was to appear at a press conference after the film, and I was prepared to hit him with some questions. The movie even looked to be living up to my expectations at the intermission, when only the first half of the film had been screened.

But after seeing the second half, I find that my fears regarding this were unfounded. Soderbergh portrays a complex Che in line with what I feel the individual to honestly be, and Benicio Del Toro is terrific in the part. I want to give some honest thought to this significant movie before I write my review, so I'm going to post it on the day of its screening, October 7th.

Other than that, I attended an interesting panel discussion on the current state of film criticism, this past Saturday, which I'll talk about more fully in the upcoming days, once I can squeeze some time in my schedule. And I will be posting a three-part Godfather series under the Seventies Cinema Revival placard (which seems to be experiencing some success) in the next few weeks, after I get through the new Blu-ray set released last week.

Below is a schedule of tonight's festival events. More information can be found at the festival's web site.

NYFF – Festival main slate film
OSH – NYFF Sidebar: In the Realm of Oshima

ZT – Ziegfeld Theatre, 54th St. between 6th and 7th Avenues
WRT – Walter Reade Theater, 65th St. between Amsterdam and Broadway, upper level

Monday, Sept. 29
4:30 A Town of Love and Hope, with Diary of a Yunbogi Boy (OSH/WRT)
6:00 I’m Gonna Explode, with This is Her (NYFF/ZT)
6:15 Cruel Story of Youth (OSH/WRT)
8:15 A Town of Love and Hope, with Diary of a Yunbogi Boy (OSH/WRT)
9:15 Tony Manero, with Love You More (NYFF/ZT)

Photo Credit: Wild Bunch / Film Society of Lincoln Center

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