Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Harvey Keitel, Iben Hjejle, Diana Bracho, Gael Garcia Bernal, Gabino Diego
Director: Juan Gerard
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama
Fidel castros revolt seems distant in the small town of holguin where the charismatic fixer che looks after his family & friends humoring police captain rosado while helping the rebels. Studio: Image Entertainment Releas... more »
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Another Look at Pre-Castro Cuba: An Homage to Family and Mem
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 01/15/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"CUBAN BLOOD, a direct to DVD little film, has a long history. Shot in the year 2000 in the Dominican Republic as the first film for director/writer Juan Gerard (with writing assistance from Letvia Arza-Goderich) the film began as a 3 1/2 epic about the small town of Holguín, Cuba in the year 1958, a place where the Bautista/Castro clash was not as evident as in Havana. Originally named DREAMING OF JULIA (referencing both the sole entertainment for the little town - a movie house - as well as the sole Americana Julia who plays a significant pivotal role in the story), the film was next called CUBA LIBRE and finally titled (rather inappropriately CUBAN BLOOD. Juan Gerard has yet to make another film and one can understand why.
Holguín is a pretty, peaceful town whose patriarch is Che (Harvey Keitel - and the Che is an old grandfather, not the revolutionary), married to Beta (the very talented and dignified Mexican actress Diana Bracho), who are the beloved grandparents of the little boy (Andhy Méndez) whose story this film is as narrated by off screen mature Tony Planas. The impending revolution results in a loss of power for the town and the story is a simple coming to grips with the changes that are to be inevitable. The boy meets the Americana Julia (Iben Hjejle) who befriends him; he struggles with the town youths who mimic him as a chicken; he dotes on movies he watches with his grandmother Beta; he falls in love with the older Carmen (Farah Alfonseca) who in turn is in love with a quiet revolutionary sympathizer Ricky (Gael García Bernal in his second film after his debut in AMORES PERROS); he learns of Che's infidelity to Beta; and he watches the town and his family disperse with the coming of Fidel Castro's revolution. Seeing the events of 1958 through the eyes of a child is enchanting and for the most part makes for a sweet, though saccharine, film.
Cinematographer Kramer Morgenthau takes terrific advantage of the 'year without electricity' motif and makes most of the film shot at night with candles and lanterns creating a storybook loveliness that heightens the romantic aspect of this film. Perhaps in the original 3 1/2 hour version there were better character developments - especially in the case of Gael García Bernal's very small but pivotal role, and in the use of Georg Stanford Brown as a Greek Chorus 'Black Bum' who seems to be placed to make the events unfold with some sense of order.
The supporting cast includes some strong actors: Gabino Diego, Cecilia Suárez, Aline Küppenheim, Daniel Lugo, etc whose roles were no doubt better fleshed out in the original. But it is clearly the influence of Harvey Keitel that helped Juan Gerard make this film happen. It has moments but it too often falls into the novella melodrama realm to make it work for audiences trying to figure out whether this is an historic drama or a Cuban version of 'Cinema Paradiso'-type Italian films. Grady Harp, January 07"
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I have to admit I had no expectations for this movie. It surprised me. Well paced, interesting enough characters an overall feel good flick if thats possible with a backdrop like the cuban revolution."