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Buena Vista Social Club (1999)

Buena Vista Social Club (1999)

Wim Wenders documents Ry Cooder’s passion project in this nostalgic tribute to traditional Cuban music

7.5

Movie

Cuba, France
English, Spanish
Documentary, Music
1999
WIM WENDERS
Compay Segundo, Eliades Ochoa, Ibrahim Ferrer
105 min

TLDR

Bangers really do transcend time and space, if not trading embargos.

What it's about

Decades after the social club was disbanded, Ry Cooder travels to Havana to recruit these musicians in their old age in order to record fourteen tracks, leading to a revival of the traditional Cuban music.

The take

When Castro took over Cuba in the 1950s, Havana’s nightlife shifted as clubs and casinos were closed down, leading to certain traditional step-based genres like son, bolero, and danzón to decline. A few decades later, prominent American musician Ry Cooder travelled to Cuba with his friend documentarian Wim Wenders, to pay homage to traditional Cuban music in an album and its respective documentary. Wenders weaves in illuminating interviews and shots of Cuba today in between the band’s Amsterdam and Carnegie Hall performances, with a certain intuition that makes each song feel like a triumph. While the documentary does focus more on Cooder, Buena Vista Social Club is a delight to watch, even with its 90s digital grain.

What stands out

The music. My ears are so thankful.

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