I have to say it

Posted by · 1:11 pm · November 2nd, 2008

Some folks have really had the wool pulled over their eyes as it pertains to “Che” this year.  That’s a shitty thing to say, I know, but it’s weird when you sense the spell of a maverick filmmaker cast so precisely over viewers just asking to be spellbound.  Suddenly subversion for its own sake and the amplified “sophistication” of a filmmaker — who seems to be flipping his audience off with each endeavor lately — equals bravura filmmaking and top-notch artistry.

I beg to differ — emphatically.  Which isn’t to say there aren’t elements of “Che” that grabbed me and really bowled me over (like the pitch-perfect ensemble performance, for instance).  But the hero-worship, on screen and off, is simply too much.  I can’t get into it now; I’ll be here all day.  I’ll dig in later.

Interestingly, some of these same champions were knocking “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” 12 months ago for similar choices.  Funny how that happens.

→ 14 Comments Tags: , , | Filed in: Daily

14 responses so far

  • 1 11-02-2008 at 1:25 pm

    Matthew Lingo said...

    I definitely got this sense talking to people after the film. I definitely didn’t dislike the film as much as you do but I do agree with what you say; the people I discussed it with seemed to, I don’t know, not be confident enough to admit that the Important Artistic Steven Soderbergh film is flawed at best.

  • 2 11-02-2008 at 1:55 pm

    Patrick F said...

    Thank you for this post.
    The first paragraph of this piece could be describing every movie Soderbergh has made since “Traffic.”

  • 3 11-02-2008 at 2:00 pm

    Matthew Lingo said...

    I don’t know, I thought Bubble was great, and Solaris is vastly underrated. Otherwise yeah.

  • 4 11-02-2008 at 3:28 pm

    Andre said...

    I saw it at the NYFF… thought it was good, but not great… I don’t know why, but I just wasn’t really expecting anything mind-blowing from this pic… therefore, I wasn’t really disappointed. But yeah, I don’t know why some folks love it so much either.

  • 5 11-02-2008 at 4:15 pm

    John Foote said...

    Wow Kris — I thought you would like it — I admire what they did, which was plunge the audience into those events as though they were unfloding at the moment we were watching the film — he gave the subject an immediacy and urgency that worked for me, and Del Toro was friggin’ brilliant in a performance given almost entirely through his eyes and body language —

  • 6 11-02-2008 at 4:27 pm

    Chris said...

    Obviously I haven’t seen the film(s) yet, but I’ve been wary of the project right from the start. It just seems like an almost impossible task to really depict Guevara in the right way. Walter Salles failed at it, and though I still hope I’ll disagree with you about this one, Kris, I’m afraid I won’t.

    (I know this is completely off topic, but I just have to ask you, John: why do you use so many dashes instead of full stops, semicolons and commas? I appreciate an occasional dash once in a while, but what you’re doing is just excessive and you’re using them in the wrong way quite a lot.)

  • 7 11-02-2008 at 5:09 pm

    Fred said...

    Kris, you’re tarado.

  • 8 11-02-2008 at 5:38 pm

    Mimi Rogers said...

    So any chance for Oscar nominations? Perhaps Best Director for Steven Soderbergh and Best Actor for Benicio Del Toro?

  • 9 11-02-2008 at 5:47 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    No chance whatsoever, Mimi — and I liked the films a bit more than Kris.

    Del Toro would be their only shot, and I’m pretty sure it’s too subtle and fragmented a performance to get the Academy’s attention.

  • 10 11-02-2008 at 6:41 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Fred: LOL.

  • 11 11-03-2008 at 11:26 am

    Henrique said...

    I think thw whole problem here is: how can we admire a film that depicts an assassin as a hero? I imagine how people would react to a film that showed Hitler or Stalin as a great man.

    Benicio Del Toro is revealing himself as an idiot. In this case, great filmmaking is not the key issue. Remember: Leni Riefenstahl had a gigantic talent. This doesn’t make her films great works of art. They just remind us that people can use talent for good purposes – or not.

    I think the same perspective can be used with “Che” – though, obviously, not in the same degree.

    Oh, and I do think that Soderbergh is overappreciated.

  • 12 11-03-2008 at 11:34 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Way to oversimplify the issue, Henrique. (And how, exactly, is Del Toro an “idiot?”)

    And sorry, but I think Leni Riefenstahl was a great artist. Beware of universalising your own opinions.

  • 13 11-03-2008 at 12:32 pm

    Henrique said...

    I’m not oversimplifying anything.

    And wasn’t Hitchcock that considered most actors stupid. Yeah, he was right. They should shut up sometimes. Del Toro says that he likes Guevara. That’s stupidity, that’s moral relativism in its worse degree.

    Guevara was a visionare. Like Hitler. Like Stalin. Like Mao, Pol-Pot, Saddam, etc…

    You just cannot defend these people. They ARE interesting personalities, IF we try to understand them without transforming their essence. And Guevara was essentialy an assassin, a hater.

    In Latin America, a professor once compared Guavara to Saint Francis.

    He received this answer:

    ¡Señor, haz de mí un instrumento de tu paz!

    Donde haya odio, que yo lleve el amor.

    Donde haya ofensa, que yo lleve el perdón.

    Donde haya discordia, que yo lleve la unión.


    ¿Dónde, profesor Iomar, puede Ud. encontrar alguna semejanza entre el Santo a quien se atribuyen esos versos y el monstruo que pronunció las siguientes palabras:

    “El odio como factor de lucha. El odio intransigente al enemigo, que impulsa más allá de las limitaciones naturales del ser humano y lo convierte en una efectiva, violenta, selectiva y fría máquina de matar. Nuestros soldados tienen que ser así. Un pueblo sin odio no puede triunfar sobre un enemigo brutal.”?

  • 14 11-03-2008 at 2:51 pm

    ThePlaylist said...

    “A film that depicts an assassin as a hero.”

    Wait, it does? Have you actually seen it?