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September 27, 1996 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-09-27

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10 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, September 27, 1996

Cinematography shines in reborn 'Cuba'

By Michael Zilberman
Daily Arts Writer
"Francis Ford Coppola and Martin
Scorsese present," solemnly announces
the very first title of "I Am Cuba" -
Mikhail Kalatozov's 1964 epic that was
shelved in the Soviet Union immediate-
ly after its completion, only to be resur-
rected and unanimously hailed as a
classic 30 years later. It took the com-
bined clout of two of the best directors
of our time to give this movie an initial
push into American art house release;
from there on, "I Am Cuba" will speak
for itself. The film transcends the curio
status of several recent revivals ("The
Umbrellas of Cherbourg,' "Purple
Noon") and claims its place on the
international cinematic landscape virtu-
ally from its first minute.
Make that five minutes - the movie
is filmed in series of jaw-droppingly
choreographed, unbroken takes, and the
one that opens it is also the flashiest.

Sergei Urusevsky's spookily
omnipresent camera transports us to a
rooftop 20 stories above Havana, fol-
lows several martini-sipping types as if
contemplating which one to pick for the
rest of the movie, crawls down a wall
and winds up in a swimming pool. The
goal is, of course, sketching out bour-
geois excesses of
Batista's Cuba,
but the sheer R
exhilaration with
which Kalatozov
stages the shot,
strangely neutral- At
izes the political
message. The
same holds true for the rest of the
movie: watching "I Am Cuba," one
doesn't need to spend time peeling off
the political subtext (the experience that
mars watching, say, a Leni Riefenstal
movie). Kalatozov is too drunk on his
visuals to appear even remotely sincere

peddling Castro's politics. When the
camera lingers on peasants working on
a sugar cane plantation, there's a nag-
ging suspicion he's more interested in
vertical lines and diagonal cutting
motions than in celebrating outdoor
It's easily understandable why this

I Am Cuba
the Michigan Theater

chronicle of
national upheaval,
perfectly Marxist
in its conception,
was withheld
from Soviet
release: condemn-

ing Havana's pre-
sumed decadence, Kalatozov also man-
ages to get off on it. Urusevsky's wide-
angle lens stares at the world of palm
trees, flowing clothes and Latin jazz in
fish-eyed fascination, skewing the per-
spective both visually and logistically.
To prevent "I Am Cuba" from look-
ing a bit too smitten with its subject
matter, a rather annoying device is used:
every once in a while, an offscreen
woman's voice insists that she, in fact,
IS Cuba, and proceeds to pretentiously
sum up what had just happened. Those
squirm-inducing passages, no doubt,
came courtesy of co-screenwriter
Yevgeny Yevtushenko, a Soviet poet

who eventually worked his way into
international limelight by dispensing
diatribes of this sort.
"I Am Cuba" sells you incredibly
short on plot. It is loosely structured
around separate stories in the manner of
Rosselini's "Paisan." The first vignette
concerns a vile American tourist and a
prostitute with a heart of gold; the sec-
ond tells a story of an exploited peasant,
etc. The audience fails to make any kind
of emotional connection with these peo-
ple - and so does the director. Instead,
"I Am Cuba" prefers to dwell on its
numerous dance routines; some scenes
are edited to the beat, much like music
videos. Overall, the movie feels like a
musical, even though it isn't. Rather, it's
a cinematic equivalent of a symphony,
unfolding in movements.
Any political and dramatic validity "I
Am Cuba" might have had, is long
expired (apart from proving that the
Russians had a steadicam before us). Its
cinematography, however, remains
mind-bending. Combine that with sev-
eral extended dream sequences that are
like separate experimental movies, and
you've got a product that's too bizarre,
too risky, too ALIVE for the time and
place it was conceived. Of course, those
are the same reasons why "I Am Cuba"
is extremely interesting here and now.


"I Am Cuba," now
hailed as a clas-
sic piece of
Soviet cinema,
has been resu*
rected after a 30-
year absence.


Modern dance explores evolution

By Stephanie Glickman
Daily Arts Writer
Conceived in 1993 and initially per-
formed in Arizona and New York City,
University dance Prof. Evelyn Velez-
Aguayo has reconstructed her full
evening works, "Sol-A" and "Te Regalo
Una Rosa," with student performers
and guest musician and singer, Maria
Rebecca Cartes.
Based on her experiences in the "El
Yunque" rain forest in her native Puerto
Rico, Velez-Aguayo's solo, "Sol-A,"
combines animal, flora and fauna
imagery within the context of a woman
searching for her self-identity and posi-
tion within nature. Painted green,
Velez-Aguayo simultaneously conveys

beauty and grotesquesness as she curi-
ously discovers crackling leaves and
then breaks into animalistic ritual. With
breath and voice she imitates the noc-
turnal singing of the coqui, a small frog,
indigenous to Puerto Rico.
"With civilization we forget our
instinctual being. Through art, we claim
it," explains Velez-Aguayo, whose ani-
mal movements contain issues beyond
just nature. Not only is Velez-Aguayo
searching for a woman's place within
herself and environment, "Sol-A" grap-
ples with issues of claiming ethnicity
and culture.
Humans encounter life paths through
which they evolve. The woman of "Sol-
A;" unable to remain alone in nature

- -- -

Te Regal
Una Rosa
Friday and Saturday at the Betty
Pease Theater. Tix are $6.
forever, discovers, with mixed feelings,
the reality of relationships with other
women. She slips into an ensemble of
females in "Te Regalo Una Rosa"
which searches for a place where
women can find a sisterhood, w
Velez-Aguayo defines as a "hut.'
Connection, separations, rivalry and
tension between female relationships
are equally weighed in "Te Regalo Una
Rosa." As quickly as sibling rivalry
develops between two women, it is just
as swiftly turned into understanding
and support. The pushing and pulling
movements and pairs of danders
entwined in bands rolling through the
space characterize the tumultu
struggles between women. The "Sol
woman dances in and out of these
struggles, always maintaining a sepa-
rate identity, yet meshing with othei
women in tender moments of discover
and acceptance.
Water imagery and the notion of ritu.
al pervade "Te Regalo Una RoSa.'
Previously a caregiver for a Parkinson'
disease patient, Velez-Aguayo fillsathc
piece with images of the daily rit"
that the two shared - bath, massage
talk and food. "Katherine became avi"
of recollecting water images,'
explained Velez-Aguayo, who had beer
conceiving of creating a piece involvin
water before working with Katherine
Images of bathing, washing and rain ar
key elements within the text of "T
Regalo Una Rosa'
Katherine's influence extends ever
further into audio and video accounts o
female ritual and rites of passage tn0
School of Music junior Lindsay Deitz
a dancer in the show, elaborates that the
act of bodily cleaning is deeper than a
daily activity. "There is the idea o
cleansing the self in a spiritual way as a
woman and a human being, finding youi
place within culture and community."
Velez-Aguayo spreads many theme
throughout her work, but ideas are care
fully woven. As the coqui frogs nest
the wilds of the Puerto Rican r
forests, the spirit of "Sol-A"-finds he
place within nature and the communit:
of women.

may have been "rehabilitated" by the Catholic Church, but he can't play College
Bowl because he's dead. Even if he could, he would never get questions like this:
"In his record two-hour inaugural address, he pledged to serve only four years as
President. He fell short of keeping that pledge by three years and eleven months. For 10
points - name him."

might have been able to get that one, but he's dead too, so he can't play College
Bowl either. That deprives him of the opportunity to answer questions like this:
"It celebrates the 1925 delivery of diphtheria serum to Nome, Alaska. For 10 points -
name this annual dogsled race whose winners include four-time champion Susan

Evelyn Velez-Aguayo's acclaimed modern dances, "Sot A" and "Te Regalo Una
Rosa," will be performed this weekend at the Betty Pease Theater.

can play, though. Just fill out a registration form at the UAC office-2015
Michigan Union. The fee to register a team is $24, which includes 4 players and
an alternate. The fee to register as an individual is $7; we'll put you together with
three other people. The deadline to register is Monday, September 30th, at
5:00pm in the UAC Office. The first round of the College Bowl IM tournament
will be October 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th. (Pick one.)
Questions? Call the UAC office at 763-1107 and ask for the College Bowl
coordinators, or send email to ac.info@umich.edu.
Oh-the answers are "William Henry Harrison" and "The Iditarod." Now you

Continued from Page 9
to day, they were making all these
wrong decisions ... I was constantly
biting my tongue. I was 45 at the time,
and most of these kids were in their
Whatever effect the employees'
youth had on the project, their age was
definitely a factor in their work envi-
ronment. Moody describes offices dec-
orated with soda-can pyramids, and
stereo systems blasting Soundgarden,
demolishing the straight-laced comput-
er-nerd stereotype. "They let the culture
be defined by the people who work
there. It really was like a very fancy col-
lege dorm," Moody said.
Of course, another unique feature of
the Microsoft world is Bill Gates.
Moody titles a chapter with one charac-

like he was always in the room."
But somehow, out of this maelstron
emerged a completed product, thi
"Explorapedia" CD-ROM -- and no
only was it an entirely innovative pro
gram, it was shipped ahead of sched
As Moody realized late in the book, i
also demonstrated the underlying rea
son for Microsoft's apparent Aisorgani
zation. "Gates and his managers ha<
cunningly set goals and standards tha
would prove impossible to meet ... (hi
employees) would dive immediatel:
into their next product hoping ty
redeem themselves." And with thi
strategy came Microsoft's dominat
of the software market.
Of course, it remains to be seen hos
long Microsoft will maintain this posi
tion. Moody predicted that the compa
ny would next work on interactive tele
vision and wireless computers, but.als
noted, "The industry's changing at a

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