4 Stars
Year Released: 1999
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 104 minutes
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This is the latest effort by influential German director Wim Wenders, whose poetic “Wings of Desire” earned him a permanent blip on the art-film radar.
“Buena Vista” was mostly shot in Cuba on digital video, and includes concert footage from Holland and New York City’s Carnegie Hall. It follows a group of musicians assembled largely via the work of slide-guitar legend Ry Cooder, who went to Havana with the purpose of putting together an album. When the original plans fell through, he began to seek out musicians to resurrect the project. Through local contacts, he fell in with a group of Cuban musical legends whose careers had fallen into near-obscurity. Cooder’s project reunited many old friends, and resulted in an internationally successful hit Latin-jazz album that resurrected interest in the work of many of these nearly forgotten musicians.
Wenders’ video camera gives us glimpses into the lives and histories of the group members, as well as numerous recording sessions. Even if this style of music is not normally your taste, their sound and rhythm are undeniably infectious, especially in light of their heartfelt, tightly orchestrated performances.

Posted on May 17, 1999 in Reviews by

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