Nov 99: Buena Vista Social Club

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by Charlita Mays
Directed by: Wim Wenders
Writer: Wim Wenders

This inspirational documentary gives meaning to the old saying that age is a state of mind. The Buena Vista Social Club is a documentary about a group of Cuban musicians who, despite their senior status take the world by storm with their heartfelt Latin rhythms. It's a moving story that almost didn't happen.


Ry Cooder, one of the cast members, was sent to Havana by his record producer friend to compose an album with Cuban musicians and a group of West African musicians. The West Africans never made it and Cooder decided to assemble a group of old Cuban Masters instead. He accomplished this by literally asking native Cubans on the streets of Havana to direct him to the appropriate talent. The movie tells the personal story of each individual band member while moving between concert scenes of the group on tour. It's hard not to become fixated on the story's different paths. Paths which lead each member of the band, not only into music, but also to their specific instrument as well. The movie invites us to join the Buena Vista Social Club in their jam sessions in the studio and to follow them on tour around the world, culminating in their performance at New York City's own Carnegie Hall.


The scenery will delight and enrapture you as much as the music. This movie provides us with a window into the life of a beautiful town and country--a view that we are so often denied here in the United States. Run, don't walk to your nearest independent film house and take part in the joy that is the Buena Vista Social Club.


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