Episodic look at the life of Cuban poet and novelist, Reinaldo Arenas (1943-1990), from his childhood in Oriente province to his death in New York City. He joins Castro’s rebels. By 1964, he is in Havana. He meets the wealthy Pepe, an early lover; a love-hate relationship lasts for years. Openly gay behavior is a way to spite the government. His writing and homosexuality get him into trouble: he spends two years in prison, writing letters for other inmates and smuggling out a novel. He befriends Lázaro Gomes Garriles, with whom he lives stateless and in poverty in Manhattan after leaving Cuba in the Mariel boat-lift. When asked why he writes, he replies cheerfully, “Revenge.” –IMDb
Raised in Texas, director Julian Schnabel began his career as an artist, holding his first solo exhibition in 1975 at the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston. Schnabel became a key figure in the Neo-expressionism artistic movement, utilizing an audacious style that was often described as raw, evocative, and unapologetic. Schnabel’s filmmaking career began in 1996 when he wrote and directed Basquiat, a biopic about the life of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. The film was well received by critics, and he followed it up with another biopic, 2000’s Before Night Falls, about Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas. In 2007, Schnabel directed an adaptation of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, a memoir by Jean-Dominique Bauby, who suffered a stroke and became paralyzed in every part of his body except for a single eyelid. The film screened at the Cannes Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Golden Palm award; Schnabel also won the festival’s Best Director award. His success there was just the beginning… read more
I think Castro was more into idealistic notion; his struggles was more than dealing with homophiles. Actually I don't think he is homophobic at all. This movie is just looking after no:1 here, taking credits for capitalism. Sick and tired of their stupid propagandas. I wonder why most artists are indifferent to politics and history?
i really, really wanted to love this but after the near-perfect first hour i just felt so distanced from reinaldo's character...so much really IS left unexplained, and though i usually don't have a problem with that the film feels so slaphappily mashed together (with very lyrical imagery, of course) that it's hard to really be invested in this man's story by the time the film is over. beautiful, but flawed indeed