Che – Part 2 (2009) & 2001: A Space Odyssey. Sort of….
Yeah, so I know I said I would be abandoning my recent trend of Monday matinees but sometimes events conspire to make me a liar. Having already taken the day off to stay up for the Oscars I realised I have a number of movies and film events in the pipeline over the coming few weeks, therefore I really should be making the most of my spare time to ensure I catch what else I can when I can, I really enjoyed the first part of Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Che‘ diptych so a cinema visit to round off the project was essential. I’m glad I reconsidered.
‘Che – Part 2‘ follows neatly on from the events in Part 1, concentrating on the revolutionary struggle that the guerrilla icon spearheaded in Bolivia during 1967. In an effort to replicate his earlier successes Che travels incognito to the Latin American battleground and swiftly ingratiates himself with the fledgling Communist revolution against the US bankrolled puppet government of President Barrientos. In a protracted and grim land campaign the uprising is incrementally crushed, the machinations of both the Soviet and American superpowers ultimately rendering the insurrection as doomed to failure. He never really stood a chance.
Together these two films form a powerful cinematic experience, like LOTR ‘Che’ is essentially one film partitioned (yeah I know LOTR was three but you know what I mean) into two distinct segments, I look forward to the DVD/Blu-Ray release to spend a long afternoon puzzling over this enigma. I particularly like the way Soderbergh avoids any obvious psycho-babble to explain Che’s drive and passion, there are no flashbacks in either film to any childhood brushes with authority or some clumsy formative experience that would explain his zealous and all consuming devotion to the cause. The film is much more linear that Part One, there are no trademark Soderbergh hopscotching around the tale’s time-frame, it starts with his arrival in Bolivia, moves through the unfolding events month by month and concludes with his (Erm, SPOILERS) final betrayal and execution. Another first class performance from Del Toro keeps the man ambiguous with a clear aura of charisma that inspired his troops and subsequent student radicals over the past forty years . There were a few unexpected faces in the film, the actress from ‘Run Lola Run‘ as Tania and Lou Diamond Philips of all people as the communist leader Mario Monje, the most surprising appearance however was a blink and you’ll miss it thirty second turn from this blog’s favourite member of FAG. The final few scenes are expertly sculpted, a gripping battle closes the film leading to a sombre yet memorable conclusion. Quite an achievement, more of this type of stuff please? OK, thanks.
So you’re probably wondering what I mean by ‘sort of’. A few weeks ago I noticed in the local press that something called the Starlight Cinema was hosting a free screening of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey‘ in Canary Wharf. So lets see, Minty’s favourite film, being shown in a free screening on his doorstep – how could I possibly overlook this? I ambled over to the venue and realised that the film was being projected in a business hall I had attended a conference at a couple of years ago, not the most auspicious of environments to see the film but I soldiered on. Unfortunately it was soon revealed that the film was being video projected on a small screen and worst of all as the film began it appeared that some technical genius had screwed up the contrast settings, the projection was out of alignment and there was visible interference between the shifting colors on the AV system that was obviously designed for PowerPoint presentations, not film screenings. You can imagine my reaction. I had planned to to pick up the Blu-Ray of the film to celebrate a certain impending anniversary – more on this early next month – so bailed out after the opening ‘Dawn Of Man’ sequence, for a free screening I can’t really complain although I would have been pissed if I’d had to leg it across London for this experience. C’est la vie.