My son and I saw the Juan of the Dead at different times, a Cuban film which has received the Popularity Award in the recent 33rd Festival of New Latin American Cinema. Rafael enjoyed the profusion of bad words, “the edginess” of the blogger played by Blanca Rosa Blanco, the “small groups of dissidents in the service of the U.S. government” and the abundant humorous scenes throughout the footage. For Rafael, Juan of the Dead was very funny. Rafael’s mom, as you know, likes to see a little bit beyond what, in Juan of the Dead, was a nation of zombies.
This is an unusual film, a B genre film in Cuban cinema normally so focused on the social; and from co-productions — Ah yes! the co-productions! — almost always pegged to the inevitable topic of hustling in Cuba. This work of Alexander Brugués immediately connects with the audience, and from this humorous excess — the dance-of-the-wives scene is memorable (it’s worth going to see that alone) — is launched a constant prodding of our society. Look, don’t see it as a serious film, it’s an amusement, but, brought to trail, Brugues will not leave absolved.* Although a spontaneous campaign would immediately call for his release.
*Translator’s note: A reference to Fidel Castro’s famous final statement at his trial for the attack on the Moncada Baracks, when he challenged to court to condemn him, saying, “History will absolve me.”
December 14 2011