CHE

I’d gone to the cinema yesterday hoping to witness first hand what the fuss surrounding SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE was all about. There’s more hyperbole flying about for that picture than there is for Barack Obama.

As usual, I hadn’t checked the schedule beforehand and was early… or late, so rather than wait in the bar for an hour I decided to select an alternative.

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Steven Soderbergh is a director who’s generally been under my radar. I recall watching SOLARIS (the only pre CHE Soderbergh film I’ve seen) and hating it! Now I’ll generally try to find at least one redeeming feature about a film but I felt that watching George Clooney in this movie was like being trapped in a very boring washing machine. I’ve now decided to watch the Andrei Tarkovsky version and the Soderbergh version back to back. More on that next week…… If I don’t find myself trapped in suspended animation.

CHE was rather good though.

Walking to the cinema I happened to be listening to the Filmspotting podcast and they were speaking to Soderbergh about this very film that I never knew I was going to see. A couple of things he said struck me as very interesting.

Firstly he spoke of the method, the approach to making the picture. It doesn’t take a genius to understand the iconic standing of the man. One only needs to walk down a street, into a student union or go to any music festival to be faced with countless t-shirts showing his image. The story of Alberto Korda, the man who captured the famous image, is an interesting one. Read a little here.

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Anyway, Soderbergh quite rightly decided to discard this almost mythical reverence and concentrate purely on method. He’s interested in showing us how, not why. That, I think, is a brave approach and one which he should be applauded for. The Filmspotting interviewer thought he came out of the film knowing no more about CHE than he did before, which was very little, but with a better understanding of the process surrounding revolution. I’m not sure I agree with him on that. Of course, a bio pic is probably the worst route to gaining an understanding of anyone but I do feel you get an idea of his commitment, his beliefs and his morality, all important facets of a person and they were shown extensively here, albeit through the subjective lens of the filmmaker.

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Secondly, on a more technical level, Soderbergh spoke of shooting the entire film on the digital RED ONE camera. This is a smallish unit which records the image onto a flash card which can then be loaded directly into editing software…. I’m sickened to say this but it looked amazing. It’s truly the first digital example that’s made me think twice about my staunch and stubborn love for celluloid or rather rethink my consistent cynicism surrounding digital technology. That’s not to say I’m going to curb my desire to shoot a number of films on film……

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Benicio Del Toro, as always, is superb in his understated portrayal of Che and Demian Bichir is a very convincing Fidel Castro. These are only 2 great performances amongst a solid cast.

If you’ve screwed up the timings of the film you’ve gone to see and find yourself at a loose end, I suggest you check out CHE. Hell, why not check it out intentionally?

Oh, and I also recommend the Filmspotting podcast. Available on itunes or at their website here.

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7 responses to “CHE

  1. The movie is excellent and Benicio deserves to be recognized. But i don´t think Hollywood likes this type of movie.

  2. Hi Adriana, welcome to the blog.

    I agree, Del Toro deserves recognition but, in terms of the oscar, he’s up against some stiff opposition, even for a nomination.

    Despite the fact that the film doesn’t labour the anti American stance of Cuba in any way, you can’t see it being embraced by Hollywood. Which scores the film immediate points in my book.

    I’m really looking forward to the second instalment, which, according to Soderbergh, is completely different in style.

  3. I had begun to think these movies were never going to see the light of day they have been so long in the making.

    I really can’t wait to catch them.

    You will be shocked to hear I think you are wrong about Solaris though. It’s a work of genius. Perhaps Clooney’s finest work.

    It’s his dedecation to making movies like this, A Scanner Darkly, Good night, and Good Luck and Welcome to Collingwood that assure George a place in heaven and is an example of how to use box-office pull that the likes of Will Ferrell could do well in heeding.

    I look forward to your realising you have made an error and the inevitable retraction.

  4. I can see these films being in your top 5 this year. I can’t wait to see the second installment. At Sundance they apparently showed them back to back with a 15 minute interval. Coming out of part 1 I could have happily gone in for another 2 hours, it’s gripping stuff.

    Maybe I am wrong about SOLARIS, hence me giving it another go. I’m interested to see how it sits next to the original.

    I agree with what you say about Clooney though. Added to your list could be FROM DUSK TILL DAWN, O’ BROTHER WHERE ART THOUGH and THE GOOD GERMAN…..

  5. And you can add “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind”, “Failsafe” and what may be my most eagerly anticipated movie of the year “Men Who Stare at Goats”.

    Perhaps a topic for a post in and of itself ‘our unsung movie heroes’. There must be plenty out there like Gorgeous George and The Sundance Kid.

  6. MWSAG has an awesome cast connected to it with a very inexperienced director but an awesome premise…. Can’t wait.

    Another Soderbergh / Clooney collaboration caught my eye in the eca library today, OUT OF SIGHT is the picture which was, by all acounts, overlooked in 1998. As soon as I’ve paid my fines I’ll check it out!

    Nice suggestion. As soon as SOLARIS is conquered, I’m on it.

  7. I did quite enjoy OUT OF SIGHT it’s very slick and quite smart but does have the distinction of being the movie that broke JLo in the movies.

    A crime for which I’m not sure it can be completely absolved.

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