That sound you just heard was me falling back, chair and all.
From the New York Times review of Steven Soderbergh “Che” flick, premiering at the Cannes Film festival this week:

There is a lot, however, that the audience will not learn from this big movie, which has some big problems as well as major virtues. In between the two periods covered in “Che,” Guevara was an important player in the Castro government, but his brutal role in turning a revolutionary movement into a dictatorship goes virtually unmentioned. This, along with Benicio Del Toro’s soulful and charismatic performance, allows Mr. Soderbergh to preserve the romantic notion of Guevara as a martyr and an iconic figure, an idealistic champion of the poor and oppressed. By now, though, this image seems at best naïve and incomplete, at worst sentimental and dishonest. More to the point, perhaps, it is not very interesting.

16 thoughts on “THUMP”

  1. I think I mentioned about two months back, that I sense a real change in the way media covers the Castro machine. This is another example of that evolution.
    What I am searching for is an explanation for the change.
    What can we ascribe this to?

  2. Not sure I catch your meaning. In my mind – if you were to attribute this to Obama, then you’d see a more supportive viewpoint as opposed to a more truthful and less flattering (that’s an understatement) presentation.

  3. Um, a lot of posters recently have been falling off their chairs, gasping in mock wonderment, etc at the way in which the NYT has recently been covering all things Castro/Cuba etc. I read the paper daily and I’m not surprised. Furthermore, I know writers for the Times who have lived and worked in Cuba at some time or another; they are in no way apologists or fans of the regime. Perhaps the critique is that they dont go far enough sometimes? Is it a matter of tone? If this is the case, let’s try to keep the genre differences between specialty blog and national paper in mind.

  4. Cucuruchu,
    You touched on a good point. I’ve got many friends at places like the Times and the Associated Press who in no way buy the government line from Havana. Yet, they have always been timid when it comes to presenting the unabashed truth.
    With the AP, this is understandable, yet condemnable, but with the Times, it’s a bit different. They have no Havana bureau to protect. I suppose you could say in the past that they were protecting the access to Cuba for their journalists but, there is a very palpable change in coverage these days – in many different news gathering organizations. For some reason, they now feel more comfortable with presenting the truth.
    I just wonder why.

  5. Let me just add my two cents in and speculate a little. If there is a certain something in the air, a change-so-to-speak with a less slavishly pro-regime slant in recent articles, could it be that castro was really the reason why they loved Cuba so much? Perhaps the beast was really charismatic in their myopic eyes, perhaps he was really–to them–a symbol of anti-American rebellion and so their coverage of Cuba was tainted with their view of him? Or could it be because it is simply getting harder for them to defend the indefensible? I mean, even though they are trying hard to depict Raul as a beneficent, pragmatic reformer, it is hard to defend the monarcharal transition from fifo to his younger brother? Or could it be that the age of the Internet and all of the Cuba related blogs are starting to make a diference? Newspapers no longer have a monopoly on the news. There is accountability. For instance, Max Castro’s heir, Ana “cara de caballo” Menendez is not able to attack the Cuban exile community with the same impunity that her predecesor did.

  6. It’s just the old guard press – the Herbert Matthews / Walter Cronkite liberal “holy cow” set that is dying out, or is dead and gone already – what you are seeing is a new generation of journalists that are cynical to the myths of the past – whether they be capitalist and socialists. I think that the more enlightened liberal reporters or pundits (Nat Hentoff for example) with a conscience had to come to a conclusion and are realizing that the 60s are far gone, communism is repression, and revolutions, Cuban or otherwise, don’t last for 50 years. But this being the NYT – don’t hold your breath my friends, if an article critical of the Revolution comes out, expect a slew of other pieces attacking Miami, Cuban exiles, or the Bush administration.
    Now are job is to let the world know that the so called “reforms” set about by Raul Castro are bogus.

  7. When I heard this movie was going to be made I wanted to find out more about it. As soon as I found out which parts of his life was going to be covered I immediatly knew this was going to be wrong! First part of the movie covers the Revolution. The second part skips to 1964 to his death. What are we missing folks??? 1959-1964. And we know what Che did during those times! I’m glad the NY Times took notice of this.

  8. ….this leaves open the possibility that another young filmmaker could be found to do an entire movie just about la cabana. Imagine.

  9. Wow:

    For some reason, they now feel more comfortable with presenting the truth. [emphasis added]

    After reading that a few times, can anyone wonder why we, the great unwashed, have the feeling that anything that “journalists” put out is suspect?

  10. After yesterday’s tornado THUMP, I am now falling back from my chair, again.

  11. Let me defend my fellow journalists:
    Yes, some of my colleagues conveniently forget their history when it interferes with their storyline. Those of us who follow coverage of Cuba are very familiar with this.
    But who is it now holding Soderbergh and his movie to account for this glaring omission?
    A journalist. And has been noted, we are seeing more of this, thank goodness.
    That does not absolve my profession of its many biases and other sins when it comes to Cuba. But it does, I think, demonstrate the folly of getting so much in a lather about what a journalist says or writes, instead of focusing on what really matter.
    In this case, it is a filmmaker’s attempt to cash in — although I think in this case, there is little risk of that — on one of history’s most deplorable myths.

  12. What explains the change in tone?
    1) The anti-bandwagon effect: Akin to the snob effect, people choose an opinion (or commodity) based on its scarcity. Instead of clinging to the status quo, they seek alternatives. Movie critics and journalists do not create works of art, they seek unfound territory to distinguish themselves.
    2) The recent reforms in Cuba have brought a nice little tagline that irrefutably presents the reality of Cuba: “now Cubans can buy cell phones that months worth of a state salary could not afford.” Prior to these reforms, many people were unaware of the true realities, but Raul’s actions have brought attention to the Cuban arena, so journalists are more likely to have become aware of the repression of free speech (the damas youtube video, for instance). There’s no easier way to get on a journalist’s bad side then to repress free speech.

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