Monday, February 16, 2009

I am not a revolutionary.

--but I don't mind seeing one in a movie.  Today, for President's Day, the historian and I decided to go see Che, in honor of the first president of the United States, who was a revolutionary, too.  Or something like that--maybe we just wanted to see it because we love the movies.  Anthony Lane recommended seeing the films back-to-back--"for full revolutionary flavor"--with a break for a mojito in between, so that's what we did, except it was a Coke and some pizza.  (Anthony Lane: you are a smart ass.  When they make the movie of your life, you will play yourself, because no one's ass is as smart as yours.  No one's.)

I recommend the film, both parts.  It was engrossing and so beautifully made, and it did what such a film should do, which is to make you want to know more about the history.  Also, it didn't glorify, particularly, the central figure, nor did it vilify; it presented him in a rich and interesting context which was clearly quite painstakingly researched.  Even so, the film didn't feel research-y--it felt lived in and vivid.  Quite wonderful really, and I also thought it was pretty brave not to make the whole film arc toward some kind of giant, falsified catharsis.  Because history, and revolutions, aren't like that, no matter how the propaganda goes, or how many Che t-shirts get sold.  (Bonus:  here's a very interesting interview with Steven Soderbergh about this film (via kottke).)

And while we're on that subject, let me pause to say that Steven Soderbergh has made a lot of films that are among my absolute, all time favorites:  King of the Hill (a little seen, fairly early one, set in the Depression, that I think is just splendid); Out of Sight; The Limey; and, frankly, his take on Solaris.  He can go ahead and make Full Frontal (which I also saw) or Ocean's 957, as long as he comes back to make such gorgeous, fresh, brave films as these.


  1. "It felt lived in and vivd." Who else could come up with a perfect line like that but you? Thanks for the review. I do feel smarter now.

  2. Yes, good review. But I'm not sure I can sit still for that long. Maybe a mojito in between while I'm walking a mile. Or something.



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