Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|We Are the Music|
Actors: Bola de Nieve, Alejo Carpentier, Conjunto Folklorico Nacional
Director: Rogelio Paris
Genres: Indie & Art House, Kids & Family, Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
From the streets of Havana to the back stairsand dressing rooms of a concert hall, into churches and smokey clubs, over the rooftops to a beach at sunsetas a lone couple dance (New York Times), this extraordinary and uniqu... more »
A mini-history of Cuban Music - but with a hum.
Steven I. Ramm | Phila, PA USA | 04/10/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This black and white film from 1966 is a mini-history of Cuban music styles - at least those in place during the 1960s. The film "Buena Vista Social Club" has brought a resurgence in interest in the folk music and jazz of Cuba. Director and scriptwriter (though there is no actual script to speak of) Rogelio Paris shows us nearly all the non-Classical music styles of the country. Beginning with an Afro-Cuban folk dance company, we move through Latin jazz, percussive dance, piano jazz (by a guy who combines Louis Armstrong's and Fats Waller's personalities) and Salsa at a Carnival. Between the musical performances - both staged and impromptu - we are given scenes of the neighborhoods (of, I assume, Havana, though not identified) and people in their everyday life - whether doing laundry or playing on the beach.
Though this is an important film that captures the culture, time has not been kind to the print used and it has not been restored in any way. The image is not formatted for TV screens so you lose the original screen titles and there are plenty of scratches. Worse still is that an audible hum runs through most of the soundtrack and is particularly annoying when there is no music playing.
As a bonus feature there is a nice 24-color documentary on female singer Omara Portuondo (from "Buena Vista Social Club"), but again the print is worn with no attempt to clean it up. Thankfully there is no hum here.
Though the package says there are "Biographies & Filmographies", there are none. I, for one, would like to have known a bit more about the musicians featured in the film.
If you have an interest in Cuban culture and music, you will certainly get it here; just don't expect to learn about the musicians or hear anything resembling high fidelity.
We are the Music!
Carlos E. Velasquez | 04/14/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you, like me, enjoy afrocaribbean music- salsa, Latin jazz, etc. --, "We are the Music!" (¡Nosotros, la Música!) is for you. And if you, like me, are specially attracted to archival footage about this music, then you will definitely be in heaven with this film, too. "We are the Music!" is a fascinating and precious trip to nostalgia that documents part of Cuba's important musical contribution to the world.
The film was made in Cuba during the sixties, and director Rogelio París, with Odilio Urfe as his musical advisor, takes us to many places in which music was played at the time. The first stop is in a theater, and we enjoy a show by Cuba's legendary Conjunto Folklórico Nacional. Odilio Urfe and his conjunto follows, playing charanga a la francesa., in what appears to be a semi-deserted building. Next comes fantastic footage of singer and pianist Bola de Nieve (Ignacio Villa) entertaining a crowd, performing some classic Cuban songs, like "El Manicero." We then go to the famous night club "La Zorra y el Cuervo," where we enjoy the music of the prestigious Quinteto Instrumental de Música Moderna, with Cuban master Frank Emilio Flynn -- who I had the pleasure of interviewing once -- playing the piano. That show also featured Ana Gloria dancing rumba under de rhythms of Nacho Rivero y su Grupo de Percusión. In addition, there are performances by Elena Bourke, Celeste Mendoza with Embale and Estela, and more. The film passionately closes with the Septeto Nacional de Piñeiro playing at an outdoor event, with the fabulous Felix Chapotin in the trumpet. It was very refreshing to see them performing the original version of the tune that we now know as "Avísale a mi Contrario."
"We are the Music!" not only gives us important historical footage of the immortal Cuban Music, but it also includes scenes of La Havana itself. We see its streets, its people, religious afrocuban ceremonies, comparsas, and so much more. This film is full of life and splendor, and it will surely make you miss those years. The DVD also features a unique short film about Omara Portuondo, one of Cuba's most celebrated singers, whose career took a second air with the release of the Buena Vista Social Club film, as well as the its CD. Directed by Fernando Pérez, this documentary showcases her with el Cuarteto D'Aida, Loquibambia, as well as her solo career. The DVD also includes biographies and filmographies. A must have, ladies and gentlemen. (Cuba, 1964, B&W, 66 min plus additional materials)
Reviewed exclusively by Eric Gonzalez for [...] on March 13, 2010"