Saturday, October 16, 2004

Che And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance

Caught The Motorcycle Diaries last night. Fantastic flick. First - the scenery. I could've watched this movie with the sound off, because I don't think there's a way to make the South American countryside look ugly. From the Andes to the Amazon, the nature is so grand, so diverse. And I just loved the Guevara's-eye-view, the landscape shot, but with the vibration of the motorcycle or a pickup truck.

I can't say enough about Gael Garcia Bernal. Now, I think the craft of acting is overrated for the most part. Yes, I do think there are good actors, bad actors and great actors. But it's really up to the director to bring it up - have you see J.Lo in Out Of Sight? I don't think much of her as an actress, yet Soderbergh managed to bring out some convincing acting out of her.

But Bernal, like very few actors, has a natural screen presence. He can speak without saying a word, and he can command a shot by simply being on camera. He just has those deep, expressive dark eyes, an easy smile that can quickly turn into a thoughtful stare. Is this the most homoerotic paragraph I have ever written? Probably not.

Props should also go to Rodrigo De La Serna, the Sancho Panco to Guevara's Don Quixote. I figured he would simply be the comic foil to the handsome, intellectual Bernal, but his character goes through a transformation as well (albeit not as remarkable as Guevara's) and De La Serna plays it well.

It was clearly written, adapted and directed by people who love and worship Che Guevara, and yes, it did get a bit sentimental at times, but never enough to get annoying. The film ran the risk of depicting Guevara as a saint, but presented enough of the dark side that will eventually manifest in Comandante Che. The shots of the indigenous people and the lepers were done with care, but without pity or being patronizing.

I definitely recommend The Motorcycle Diaries, no matter what your politics are. It's less a biography of Che as it is a love letter to South America and youthful idealism.

- Trailer
- Reviews at Rotten Tomatoes
- Official Site

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