"The Buena Vista Social Club" guitarist Ry Cooder s celebrated album featuring the recently re-discovered talents of Cuba s foremost folk musicians sold millions of copies and earned a Grammy Award. Now Cooder teams up wit... more »h acclaimed director Wim Wenders (Paris Texas) to reveal the astonishing life stories vibrant personalities and unforgettable music of the brilliantly talented but long-overlooked performers who collaborated on this now-legendary recording. Form the crumbling barrios of their native Havana to their triumphant sold-out concerts in Amsterdam and New York s Carnegie Hall it s an unforgettable deeply emotional journey into the passion pride and humanity of the artists whose music sparked a worldwide musical phenomenon!System Requirements:Starring: Ry Cooder Ibrahim Ferrer Rueben Gonzalez Eliades Ochoa Omara Portuondo and Compay Segundo. Directed By: Wim Wenders. Running Time: 105 mins color. This film is presented in "Standard" format. Copyright: 1999 Artisan Live Entertainment.Format: DVD MOVIE Genre: DRAMA Rating: UPC: 012236101765 Manufacturer No: 10176« less
G.J. Q. from SAN RAFAEL, CA Reviewed on 10/19/2010...
An absolutely great insight into a country forbidden from visiting by U.S. Government, even though they had established a major prison on that soil. Aside from all the 1984 overtones, the DVD portrayed a wonderful cultural ambiance through low-key engaging musical interludes of Cuban rhythms and the romance of an era.
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Buena Vista Social Club
Mike Baker | 12/17/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I could have stayed to watch Buena Vista Social Club all day and all night. The film traces master guitarist Ry Cooder's seemingly endless search for more musical legends to play with, as he takes us to Cuba to meet the masters of "Son" music. The result is a warm, beautiful and touching portrait of the aging "Son" masters emerging from a long hiatus to show us they haven't lost their touch. Cooder has long sought out masters of "roots" music to learn from and play with. This time he found his way into a diamond mine, and the resulting three albums, "Buena Vista Social Club", "Afro-Cuban All-Stars" and "Introducing Ruben Gonzales" could all have won the 1998 Grammy award, as the former actually did.The film follows the aging Son musicians around their native Cuba as they prepare for overseas concerts in both Holland and New York City. The city of Havana shows the effects of aging itself, run down and seedy, but, as with the musicians themselves, there is a spirit of unity and inner strength that overrides the worn down facade. That spirit emerges quickly as you see how deeply the Cubans feel their music. You also see a country that preserves the old and makes it work personified in the "antique" automobiles the Cubans use to get around.Several musicians are featured in the film, but two gain the film's focus, jazz pianist Ruben Gonzales and singer Ibrahim Ferrer, the "Cuban Frank Sinatra". Gonzales no longer has a piano and plays one in a gymnasium reserved for Cuban gymnasts. Ferrer feels the public no longer appreciates his music and is shining shoes to supplement a tiny retirement. Ry Cooder and his son Joachim (sp?), a talented drummer, try to stay as far in the background as possible. Cooder's style is to sit at the feet of the masters to learn and participate. I think the director, Wim Wenders, gives him more face time than he would prefer. No matter, as he is a wonderful musician and facilitator, without whom the original project and the film would not have happened.Wenders weaves the music and the life of the musicians in a pattern that draws the audience into the lives of the musicians, especially Ferrer. I was very familiar with the music from the three albums and that made my experience with them almost personal. I was excited as I saw the rehearsals draw the musicians closer and tighter. They became young again as the music started flowing from them. The culmination of the film is the concert at Carnegie Hall. I was fully engaged by then and I had chills when the Son music was playing and when the audience responded with such enthusiasm. I had tears of pleasure as the music flowed over me. I've recommended this film to many of my friends, and they all have gone out of their way to thank me. I don't think I've seen another film in 1999 that I've liked better. I'll paraphrase what Ry Cooder says to his son in the film, "This is the kind of opportunity that comes once in a lifetime"."
So much talent. The spirit of music in the raw!
Eduardo Middleton K. | Santiago, A.M. Chile | 01/30/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After all that's been said about the Grammy award winner album by Ry Cooder, I had to watch this superb documentary. They were right, this film deserves, also an award. Reknown musician and singer Ry Cooder sits back as Dream Team coach and lets this long forgotten talents of cuban music tell him naturally their stories, like Ibrahim Ferrer's recording debut at age 72 or Compay Segundo's 90 year old romance intentions. The heartwarming side of this film probably is the chance that this very talented singers and musicians have to fulfill every musician's dream concert: full house attendance at the legendary Carnegie Hall and Amsterdam. They also get to know the Big Apple and display child-like innocence and awe. One of the mayor acheivements of the film is how Wim Wenders blends the cuban studio and city shots with the actual concerts in N.Y. and Amsterdam. This is Not a concert though. All the songs are blended with interviews or Havanna scenaries.The video quality is very good, but don't expect IMAX or so. The sound quality is impecable and there are some extras (a couple of full songs). If you want an experience beyond ethnic music (which is great) but into ethnic discovery (which is grater) buy this gem."
This film will inspire you to jump on the next plane to cuba
Eduardo Middleton K. | 10/28/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"this is literally one of the greatest movies i've ever seen. wim wenders is an excellent, though often overlooked, director who managed to compliment an ideal narrative with pure, optical pleasure. the films storyline reflects perfectly the sensations of the individualls involved. you will leave the film with a feeling of placidity, comfort, and radiant warmth, which one can only find through (or in this case viewing) the endeavors of maximum human achievement. also, the film communicates well the essence of cuban culture, of which american's are usually unaware. if nothing else sells you, just imagine the fun of watching cute, old men who thought the world had forgotten them play their little instruments and light up with life. it's wonderful."
Not just a movie about music; the movie IS the music ...
Linda Linguvic | New York City | 12/18/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When this documentary was being filmed in 1998, the CD which was issued in 1997 had just been released and went on to win a Grammy. It had been the result of American guitarist Roy Cooder's determination to bring the musical sounds of Cuban music to the public. He then brought on the German movie director, Wim Wenders, to capture on film the music, the people and Cuba itself.The musicians are elderly, their musical skills developed from childhood and they are living memorials to the music they love. Once renowned in Cuba in the 40's and 50's, these men have lived through upheaval and changes in their country, and yet approach life with joy and freshness. The camera picks up the wrinkles, but it also picks up the twinkle in the eye of 91 year old guitarist/singer Compay Segundo who playfully talks about fathering another child to add to his family, or lead singer 70 year-old Ibraham Ferrer's affection for this wife, the 80-year old pianist Ruben Gonzolez who finds it hard to walk, but has no trouble making his fingers fly over the keyboard. Omera Portuando, the lone sultry female, adds an ageless feminine presence to the group.This is not just a movie about the music. The movie IS the music. And there are long musical sequences which will delight anyone with a serious musical interest. The movie is also about the individual people, whose interviews against the backdrop of a crumbling, but lively Cuba are testaments to the human spirit. Before they were rediscovered for this film, one of the men was shining shoes; another was working in a cigar factory. Politics are never mentioned, but the 1940s and 50s American cars and the disintegrating buildings is evidence of politics gone haywire four decades ago.The movie culminates with a concert in Carnegie Hall and the musicians' first trip to New York. Their sense of wonder in viewing the skyscrapers, looking at store windows and visiting the Empire State Building is a sharp contrast to the confines of their restricted world in Cuba, which is nevertheless rich with the spirits of this indomitable individuals.The video does lack dramatic tension, and drags in places, but I still don't hesitate to recommend it. It spite of poverty and a humble economy, the movie captures the beauty and joy of the people. And it surrounds you with music."
C. Morris | haslett, michigan United States | 09/26/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In 1956, the U.S. Navy sent me to Key West, Florida. I'd always been a radio junkie, so it didn't take me long to discover Radio Havana. For a year in Key West, and then for two years in Bermuda, I enjoyed what was to me a new and spectacular music from Havana. And now, 44 years later, Wim Wenders has brought those very same sounds, from the very same people, flooding back to me like a reborn life. Over the years I'd forgotten the authentic sound I'd heard from Radio Havana when in Key West. But from the opening downbeat of the film it was as if I'd been transported back in time, listening and watching the same musicians I'd heard in the Fifties, when they were in their prime and heard regularly on Radio Havana. I've remained a Latin music fan over the years, but the sound you'll hear in this video is different; it's authentic, the real thing, a more romantic approach to what we now call Salsa.The film is a social documentary as well as a musical one, giving us hidden glimpses into life in Cuba. Life there is more than we may have thought. A look into the hearts and lives of these sweet artists offers exceptional and surprising insight into the potential of human nature. "The way of possessions" has been rejected, and has given them the strength of character to "resist the good as well as the bad." If you aren't in tears--with feet tapping--at the triumph of these beautiful people as they are resurrected to thunderous applause at Carnegie Hall, then you simply aren't paying attention."