Before Night Falls (2000) Film Review

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Before Night Falls is based on the autobiography of Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas. Arenas was born in rural Cuba, and as a teenager joins the revolution. However, after moving to Havana to continue his studies, he finds that the new political climate does not agree with his homosexual lifestyle and both he and his writing is under threat.

It is a very beautiful film, presented with the poetic style of Arenas’ writing. I know little of Cuba and the revolution, and had not heard of Arenas prior to this. Having seen the film, I am now very interesting in exploring his writing. Javier Bardem is wonderful in the film, as he so often is. My only confusion was the use of language in the film – much of the film was in English, but I could not see why. Or at least, why it was not consistent – either consistently in English, or consistently in Spanish. Still, this did not take away from the film at all.

Javier Bardem was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his performance.

The Rum Diary (2011) Film Review

Johnny Depp Rum Diary

It’s the 60s. Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp) is an American journalist who takes a freelance job in Puerto Rico with a strange bunch of misfits. He is taken under the wing of Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart), a wealthy American who is working with a group of businessmen to develop an area of pristine beauty into a tourist resort. Kemp needs to decide between his conscience and his back pocket. And all the time, he is drinking a lot of strong liquor, and trying to avoid being killed by angry gangsters and angry cops.

Hunter S Thompson wrote The Rum Diaries in the sixties but it was only published in 1998.  He was keen on it becoming a feature film, but he passed away in 2005. The Rum Diary was released in 2011.

It’s not fiction, but neither is it totally non-fiction. In a 1998 interview with Charlie Rose (see below), Thompson talks about all of the characters having some of his sensibilities in them. If you’ve seen or read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, you can definitely see some element of him in Moberg, the severly alcoholic and drug-addled journalist portrayed marvelously by Giovanni Ribisi.

It’s certainly a funny film, with the dark humour I’ve come to expect from Thompson. I felt that it was meant to give me hope for the future, but the future of this film has passed and the world is just as corrupt as ever. And Thompson is gone – no longer putting the bastards of the world on notice that he does not have their best interests at heart.

Rango (2011) Film Review

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Johnny Depp voices the character known as Rango – a chameleon who is a pet until an accident ands him in the desert where he is forced to fend for himself. Being an animation, I was expecting the usual light-hearted children’s film. Yes, this film is somewhat aimed at children, but wow, it is pretty dark. The first sense of this came when Rango was standing on a road in the middle of the desert and his skin dries up, then sheds and then dries up again. Shortly after this, he meets an armadillo that has been run over flat by a passing truck. The armadillo is talking, and we meet him again later in the film in a more healthy state. But still, it was creepy as.

The animation is beautiful. The characters are beautifully drawn and magnificently animated. It was only after that I did some research and found it was created by Gore Verbinski who also made the Pirates of the Caribbean films – or, at least the first three. I’m not sure I’d necessarily recommend it for most children, certainly not young children. But for older kids, it’s awesome fun.