Sunday, March 15, 2009

Che movie roadshow in Portland

Che movie Roadshow in Portland

What a crazy awesome weekend to be a geek in Portland. Friday night the second to last episode of Battlestar Galattica played at the Baghdad theater. They have shown all 10 of the last episodes but this time Starbuck herself (Katie Sackoff) attended and did a Q and A. It was strange because she sat in the next row over from where Randall, Megan and I sat. Strange watching and like “oh shit there is fracking Starbuck.”

Saturday I had an old friend come into town who is a PHD student in Latin American history. Dude knows his shit about Radicalism everywhere but especially in Latin America. So when I read in the paper that Director Steven Soderberg (Traffic, Ocean’s 11 movies) was personally screening his new Che Bio pic I knew we had to go.

Mind you this is a 4 and half hour movie. Now that I have seen the movie, I can say that it is really two separate movies. Just like Kill Bill the tone of the two parts are so different. The first two hours were an off hook amazing treatment of Che’s struggle in jungles of Cuba and his stunning political show downs at the United Nations in New York.

The first film has some of the most brutal and realistic revolutionary battles scenes seen in a film since the Battle of Algeries. The non linear story structure was done perfectly to explain the man and his motivations at the time.

There was a short intermission and the second film skipped Che’s failed revolutions in Venezuela and Congo and focused his struggle in Bolivia. During the intermission we discussed Che’s crucial error was thinking what worked in Cuba could work everywhere.

In Bolivia his attempt at a Mao style peasant uprising failed to even get off the ground. Coming on the heals of a movie about the Cuba revolution it made a much less exciting of a movie that we all knew was going to end with Che being executed. I am not sure how Soderberg would have felt about this but I am personally glad that the Motorcycle Dairies had already told the story of his young life.

I couldn’t help thinking of that film as he stood at the firing squad. In the Q and A Soderberg said they had been working on the film since Traffic and intended at first just tell the story of Bolivia. That was odd to me since that was the most boring part. What the fuck do I know but everyone I talked to after the film agreed that the first film was perfect and the Boliva stuff while important could have been done in a half hour.

None the less a lot was left out, Che’s role in the post revolution Cuba most glaringly obvious. That is just too bad, the man had a lot of life to tell. Think of it this way the first film was Che’s greatest achievement and the second was his greatest failure.

Here is the real point. Between awesome Battlestar geekery, Che roadshow and our usual amazing vegan food I was reminded what I love about Portland. Even if I rode to the store on bike through hail and super strong gorge wind blowing crazy gales in my face. I feel lucky to be a nerd in this city.

* Note when I went to post the trailer I saw most places are seeing this released as two separate films. I still stand my belief that one three hour film would have been better.

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