I will keep this review short and spoiler-free.
"7 Days In Havana" is a compilation of seven short stories, each with it's own director and character(s). The first two "days" seemed to be taking the film in the right direction, but after that everything fell apart.
Some elements try to bridge together some of the "days", but the whole structure of the storytelling ends up being an inconsistent mess.
I thought that all the cliché representations of Cuba would be lacking, but "7 days in Havana" gives almost nothing new.
A wasted Saturday night for a movie I would not re-watch.
7 Days in Havana
7 Days in Havana
Keywords: singercastro regime
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A lesbian, an aspiring actor, an aspiring singer, a low-class marriage, a neighborhood community and 2 renowned directors have memorable less-than-24-hour-long experiences while living in/visiting the capital of Cuba.
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A collage of nothing
I will keep this review short and spoiler-free.
A mixed bag, in terms of both stories and quality
'Seven (or if you prefer, '7') Days in Havana' is a series of little filmettes, each by one of seven directors, set in Havana. At first it seems the connecting thread between the segments is foreigners: a US student dates a drag artist, a Serbian film director attends a film festival, a Palestinian man waits to see the President... but the later segments concentrate on Cubans: a young woman caught in a lesbian relationship is forced to undergo a cleansing ritual; an old woman bullies her neighbours into building a fountain for the Virgin Mary in her living room... The quality is variable (I nodded off during the lesbian one, which really drags; but found the fountain in the living room segment with its colourful characters and lively storyline most enjoyable),but in the main I enjoyed the total package. How accurate a portrayal of modern-day Cuba it is I don't know, though.
Some really good short films in there
n the whole, I found "7 Days in Havana" a really pleasing watch.
I had read reviews here before deciding to watch. During most of the film, I was happy to find myself disagreeing with the reviewers I have read in the internet which thought the movie was uneven, and that it should be expected because of the 7 different directors in one film.
There are a few things to say. First thing to say is that, of the short films I found worth watching in this, they may seem so unrelated that watching the movie is a pointless or disjointed experience. You just need to adjust with these shorts - it's just like that, and it does work. I had to adjust, as someone who likes and looks for shorts compilations. It's like a book of short stories - it's nothing like a movie with one story or idea.
Second thing to say, where other people have claimed the film is uneven, is that the film IS uneven. But I found that things only begin to degrade towards the end. It seems Cuban films is a working week thing - the first 5 days, Monday to Friday, had some really enjoyable, well made shorts indeed. But at the weekend, Saturday and Sunday, it all went downhill. And got really, really poor.
The short film for Saturday, "Bittersweet", began OK, and actually it was such a surprise to me in this collection that things got so bad so quickly, I didn't really realise what was going on. There was nothing in that film, while the acting was still reasonable or good.
The Sunday film, "The Fountain", some people might appreciate, and I suppose the idea was there for a good short. There could have been a good film. And I guess I could understand those who thought the lead actress performed very well. However, it just didn't work at all as film for me. While the script may have been quite well produced, the film making was bad and the whole concept, even in the actors, brought "7 Days in Havana" very downhill. Kind of to the world of comedy or human pastiche, where this should never have happened with that script or idea.
From cinematography (but for one memorable few second scene of men seemingly stealing paint, and a quick flash of some young guys fishing on a pavement). Visually, in terms of pace, of aim, of any real substance, of evoking any thoughts or types consciousness, but a simple 'story of folk', it was poor. The director of this one didn't seem to appreciate the format of film.
OK - that's the bad stuff over. The rest is really good. It is well to very well shot, well paced, acted. It is intriguing and rewarding. For the first five films, the convoluted, complex, maybe relatively vexing or provocative film shorts worlds such as "13 Conversations About 1 Thing", and Allen's "New York Stories" are happily a foreign land. The concerns are so simple, and things seem to get simpler and simpler.
The point is, plainly, just the film making with these. The simple visual capturing, pacing, editing, short story making. In the first film, "El Yuma", there may be nothing really in the story (as some reviewer has alleged against the whole film). It doesn't matter. The point is the lights - the colours, the simple acting, making a little picture of a suggested time in a place. OK, "El Yuma"'s lack of depth means it is nothing of a legend in film, but it never tried that, and things get better. Some of the remaining films of the first five are excellent film making, to be remembered.
The visual excellence of "Ritual" is so accomplished in that the immensely intriguing, very strong emotional impact is enabled strongly from low light visuals alone. One is lost in wonder and genuine basic experience. A genuine tour de force. A truly great short piece of film making.
Similarly, "Diary of a Beginner" is a truly astonishing feat in cinematography. The immense distance in vision, wonder and appreciation and the sheer, basic value of the human mind, rooted in the basicness of the world experience, and of human being, is so simply and mesmerisingly stated, again, more or less in sheer visuals alone (daytime, this time).
The lovely "The Temptation of Cecilia", with a universal theme, manages to enter that strange hispanic world of perhaps evoking personal expectations, but confounding them, perhaps, in the relationship between kind of open mindedness - normality if you will - and a devilishly buzzing prejudice. It capably and knowingly illuminates a hard dichotomy of real life, between the real life in the dream, of the dreams, of the suppositions and assumptions and desires, and the real life of blunt, concrete, true reality in a number of ways. Strangely, a more endearing thing about this short is that it can genuinely seem to be being a snob all round, or maybe not. Knowingly.
"Jam Session" is a very well carried off short film from the simplest of intentions. A tonic.
The movie is really satisfying.
I'm really disappointed that the film then went on to have the last 2 shorts ones that I wouldn't watch again - in such an otherwise good collection.
At the same time, there are five really good shorts there, and I think it's worth giving the whole thing 8 out of 10 rather than just 6 or 7 out of 10 because those 5 shorts are significant in film. (Forget the last two, some people forgot what they were doing.)