Two Quick Movie Reviews

Review 1: Cuban Food Stories

I saw this one at the Tower Theater while drinking Cuban coffee on an empty stomach. It’s a documentary by a Cuban emigre who travels around Cuba and talks to people about food. These are people who catch, grow, prepare, serve and/or sell food. The film is beautiful, the people charming, the settings picturesque, the food wonderful. There are spectacular drone shots of colorful towns, lush forests and rural landscapes, and closeups of ceviche, grilled octopus, roast pork and other delicacies. You will leave the theater hungry.

This movie made me feel good about Cuba, which leads to another thought. In addition to its good qualities this movie is slick, well done propaganda. Perhaps the film maker really is ambivalent about having emigrated, as he suggests. Or perhaps he would not have been allowed to make this movie without showing Cuba in the most favorable light, i.e., things were bad in the ’90s but today they are getting better, people are better off and happy, it’s a great place to visit, etc. However, the hardships of daily life are obvious to anyone who looks. As my movie viewing companion said afterwards, the people in the film spend most of their time looking for food. One notices their teeth, their overall look of having been through hard times. The electricity fails. The happy fisherman was trained as a physicist and now rationalizes his difficult life (what else can he do?).

I recommend this movie as long as you can enjoy the food and not be bothered by any political subtexts. Verdict: Four thumbs up, one thumb down.


Review 2: The Black Stallion Returns (also available on Netflix)

This is a really bad movie. I enjoyed the original whose plot involves a special horse that falls off a boat and saves the little boy who rides the horse to victory in the big race. Cartoonish but so are most movies and this one was visually beautiful, apolitical and had a happy ending. Plus the horse porn if you are into such things. Then I got talked into watching the sequel.

The newer movie revolves around a struggle between good and bad Arabs to repatriate the famous horse to the Sahara where they plan to run it in a hokey every-5-years race on which tribes with poor risk-management skills bet the farm. You can tell the good from the bad Arabs because the main bad Arab is fat and has a Brooklyn accent and the good Arabs are thin and have Roman accents. Also we are made to understand that the bad Arabs cheat rather than follow important movie rules of noble-savage fair play. The good Arabs take the horse and explain to the little boy that it’s really theirs, and who can blame them. They head off for Casablanca and the boy follows in a flying boat. Much drama and silly plot escapades follow until inevitably the little boy wins the big race for the good Arabs but then is too stupid to either take the horse back home with him or sleep with the hot Arab chick who would do him in a second since he’s now the high-status race winner.

I recommend this movie if you liked Mystery Science Theater, or if you have young daughters who are into horses as horse porn is probably more wholesome than vampire porn. Verdict: Four thumbs down, three thumbs up.

11 thoughts on “Two Quick Movie Reviews”

  1. I go to so few movies in theaters that it is not fair for me to even try to review any. I am a movie fan but of classics like the several hundred in my DVD collection.

    I had to ask my wife what movies we have seen this year.

    We saw “American Assassin” which was terrible.

    We saw “Entebbe” which made the Palestinian terrorists as the sympathetic victims.

    We saw “Dunkirk” and “Darkest Hour” which were pretty good although the Underground scene in “Darkest Hour” was weak.

    It did show the survey data in John Lukacs book in graphic form.

  2. “Survey data?”

    Lukacs has a series of reports from a primitive polling service. They reported on public opinion and morale.

    I can’t lay my hands on the book at the moment to find the name.

  3. That’ of course , was me.

    This malfunction of cookies is really annoying. Neo Neocon had it for a few days after she moved her blog but it is working OK now.

  4. Mass Observation was heavily used in the great series about 20th century Britain that started with Austerity Britain. Great stuff. I wish there was something similar for America, as I’d love to read something that captured what the average person in Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Rochester, etc. was thinking as urban renewal swept through northeastern cities and towns leaving nothing but ruin.

  5. I recently learned about this movie called I am Cuba. It’s Soviet propaganda with a plot consisting of one-dimensional morality plays, but the camerawork is ridiculously jaw-dropping.

  6. Last week I did see Operation Finale, about the Mossad capturing Adolph Eichmann. I thought it was a good movie, although I knew the background before.

    On the Cuban food, I am wondering if it is more propaganda? The Average Cuban has a pretty meager diet.

    Most Netflix movies are crap I have discovered although they did show the movie about the Enigma – Lets say not “most” but 50%?

    Even what Disney has done to Star Wars has turned me off. They had “Return of the Jedi” or something similar,. and it ran in theaters this year I believe. Watched it for about 40 minutes and that was enough.

    If your city has the TCM/Fathomevents program, I recommend it. They are showing 1965s The Sound of Music tomorrow and Wednesday. That program is what I mainly follow now. To see North by Northwest on the big screen…..

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