Thursday, 13 June 2013

7 Days in Havana (7 Días en La Habana) …

not a vacation one would expect  
[Review by Nancy Snipper]   

There is no place like Cuba. Havana crystallizes all the magic of this amazing island with its superbly generous and very funny people. Yet this film presents seven glimpses into different aspects of the city – that to my mind - do not truly represent the heart and soul of its people. Different directors, the most notable being Benicio del Toro have created different situations with titled chapters. The first presents a naive American who ends up in a bar and invites a woman back to his hotel room. She is actually a ‘He’. This episode shows us the transvestite aspect to the city. There is a great scene of dancing in this first small tale that ends without any impact.  In the vignette about a drunken Serbian director who has come to Havana to receive a film award, we see him accompanying his best friend – a terrific trumpet player. This part shows how the film side of Havana is thriving and also the broken promises of bringing musical talent from Cuba abroad. The music in this one which is appropriately called “Jam Session” was outstanding. We also see another music-filled story about a wonderful young singer, Cecilia who is asked to leave the island with a Spanish guy who is in love with her. She does leave, but with her football loser boyfriend on a raft.
Her parents are devastated. The mom is a super baker and she ends up baking a great cake for a Santeria party. The hostess of the party is an old woman – a religious nut. To prepare for the party, she insists that a fountain be built right inside her own apartment. The Virgin Mary is to be placed in it – an icon to be celebrated at the party, but the party is about to happen and there is not much time to make her dream come true. She convinces all the apartment building’s inhabitants to work together to make it happen. Certainly this final part of the movie borders on the absurd, but it does show the truth about Cuba’s people banding together to help one another. Community comes alive in this film. The ocean and music is the best thing about ‘these stories’ and scenes that unfold before us. Light-hearted with comedic wisps, the film does present the daily struggles all of Cuba’s people have to live with - such as not having enough food, and power outages, but the movie certainly captures the flavour of fun and warmth that this country has.  Its intention to address the burdensome side of Havana without depressing us, or going for a gritty, edgy style is ultimately refreshing. Still too many scenes are boring and play out too long.

(This film was viewed, compliments of Le SuperClub Videotron, 5000, rue Wellington, in Verdun,  Quebec.) 
(Ce film a été visionné, avec les compliments de Le SuperClub Videotron, 5000, rue Wellington, à Verdun, Québec.)