Buena Vista Social Club
Wim Wenders’ documentary Buena Vista Social Club is about the adventures of Ry Cooder in Cuba. Cooder, best remembered by film fans for the wailing slide guitar theme of Wenders’ Paris, Texas, went to Cuba in 1996 to meet with some legendary ‘soneros’ musicians of the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s. The result was the album Buena Vista Social Club, recorded with such colorful characters as the 90-year-old singer/guitarist Compay Segundo, guitarist Eliades Ochoa, baritone Ibrahim Ferrer and Omara Portuondo, “the Cuban Edith Piaf.”
The album won a Grammy, and in this refreshing documentary, Wim Wenders shows these exceptional musicians in their hometown, following them into their usual hang-outs — the cafes, clubs and even living rooms — as well as to concerts in Amsterdam and New York’s Carnegie Hall, capturing their incredible vitality.
“In Cuba, music flows like a river,” according to Ry Cooder, who adds “Music is like a treasure hunt; you dig and dig and sometimes find something. “Pursuing this metaphor, Wenders wanted to make a film that would “just float on this river … not interfering with it, just drifting along.” The result is a film full of vitality and positive energy, which is also an absolute delight to musical ears.
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