I AM CUBA (1964) Mikhail Kalatozov

I am Cuba is a piece of Communist propoganda made with the approval of Castro.  It was banned from the United States for about 30 years.  It is basically four vignettes about Cubans being destroyed and terrorized by the evils of Capitalism and the workers eventually rising up against The Man.

Why did I watch this?  Well, I’m liberal but I am definitely no Communist.  I read on many film buffs threads that this was one of the most beautiful movies ever shot (despite it’s terrible story).  Well, that much is true I guess; it is a brilliantly shot movie.  But visuals are just not enough for me I guess.  I just don’t understand how you can really recommend a movie like I am Cuba or Triumph of the Will or Birth of a Nation (another movie I have seen).  I understand they are landmark films that set the groundwork for film making techniques for years to come.  But it is also fair to say that unless you are an actual “student” of film, you really aren’t going to get anything of value from watching them.  I can’t ever get past the politics to really be moved by the camera work.

The story, as I said before, are four stories about the horrors of Capitalism.  The stories are so silly they are kinda in the same vein as Reefer/Sex Madness.  You can pretty much predict everything that is going to happen because the absolute worst will always…ALWAYS happen.  For example, a farmer desperately needs a crop to come in to support his family.  Quick, guess the worst that can happen: he loses his crop, he loses his farm to a corporation, he loses all his money, and he will die lonely and destitute.  The only way it could have actually gotten worse was if the evil corporate CEO came of and anally raped the farmer’s son and daughter while guzzling oil and shitting on the ashes of the ancestral home.  Really the only enjoyment I got from the story was predicting all the horrible sh*t that was going to happen.  It’s actually a fun little game. Everything else is horrible: dialog, story, characterization, etc.

There are so many masterpieces that combine brilliant camerawork with a moving plot I don’t understand why you would waste your time(like I did) with movies like these.  For God’s sake, watch the films of Kurosawa, Kubrick, Welles, Ford, Dreyer, I could go on and on… I just don’t get why Ebert will do a several page write up praising a movie like Triumph of the Will when you have movies like F for Fake or Miller’s Crossing that go unrecognized.

This was just a waste of time.


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