Buena Vista Social Club (1999)

Okay, it took me six years to see this excellent documentary but I just wasn’t ready for it at the turn of the century. What did I care about forgotten Cuban musicians or Ry Cooder for that matter.

I watched this Wim Wenders film last night on DVD and was blown away. It sounds great in Dolby Digital and the visuals are fabulous. You’ll want to go to Cuba, listen to Cuban music and smoke cigars.

Live performances are mixed seamlessly with recording sessions and incredible visuals of the streets of Havana. Although the musicians are old (some are in their 80s) their playing ability and singing are exceptional.

Rubén González impressed me the most with his piano playing. He’s described as the best piano player to come out of Cuba. He died a couple of years ago and was 80 years old when the documentary was made.

Ibrahim Ferrer was a great singer with a lot of style. Getting to know him over the course of the documentary was almost as interesting as his music. Sadly, he died just a few weeks ago.

One of the funniest moments in the film is seeing these great musicians on the streets of New York for the first time and being amazed. One of them looks into a shop window at a figurine of president Kennedy and says something like “that guy looks familiar”.

It was weird to see some of the musicians looking at the World Trade Center buildings from the Empire State Building.

If you’re looking for a great documentary film then Buena Vista Social Club is a must see.

Posted in DVD Reviews at 3:16 PM