Julian Schnabel
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Julian Schnabel (USA, 1951) debuted with a biopic about the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, Basquiat (1996).

Before Night Falls (2000) is a terrible (and terribly long) film, the fictional biography of a Cuban poet and homosexual that the director uses to attack both communism and capitalism and to equate them in a clumsy way. To say that the film looks like an unfinished, hastily pasted together work is to be very generous.

The film follows the (mis)adventures of Reinaldo from his childhood in pre-Castro Cuba, when he was living with his mother in the grandparents' farm, to his last day in New York, some forty years later. Each episode is barely sketched, with virtually no humour and no grace.
First we see the child dealing with poverty and an estrangered father. Life is sort of magic in the jungle and by the sea. But soon a teacher discovers Reinaldo's talent for writing and the grandparent is taken by a Biblical fury. The family moves to the town and Reinaldo gets in touch with the juvenile delinquents, the decadent clubs and the revolutionaries. Castro wins the revolution and Reinaldo discoveres his homosexuality. Homosexuality becomes a form of protest against the dictatorship, that in fact persecutes gays. His first book is a success and wins him important friends, including a couple that will take his new censored work to Paris. He gets arrested after thieves claimed he molested them. Reinaldo jumps into the sea and goes into hiding but eventually the police find him. In jail, he becomes popular writing letters for the convicts, but eventually is singled out by the guards and subjected to harsh confinement. In order to return to normal life, he accepts to sign a confession for a sexy commander. Regained his freedom, he joins instead the rebels who have built a balloon in the abandoned cathedral and plan to send three of them to America. During a party, Reinaldo's ex lover, who has found out his new whereabouts, steals the balloon, but only to crash minutes later. In 1980 Reinaldo takes advantage of an offer by the regime to expel all criminals, mentally ill people and homosexuals. He finally reaches America and starts a new life. He has a love affair with a concierge but lives in poverty. His lover saves his life when he attempts suicide, but then, when he comes back from the hospital and has lost all strength, he helps Reinaldo die by suffocating him with a plastic bag. helps him die
(Tradotto da Erika Sofi)

Before Night Falls (2000) e' un film terribile (e terribilmente lungo), la biografia romanzata di un poeta omosessuale cubano che il regista usa per attaccare sia il comunismo che il capitalismo e per metterli goffamente sullo stesso piano. Dire che il film sembra un lavoro incompleto messo su frettolosamente significa essere molto generosi.

Il film narra le (dis)avventure di Reinaldo, dalla sua infanzia nella Cuba pre-Castro, quando viveva con la madre nella fattoria dei nonni, fino al suo ultimo giorno a New York, circa quarant'anni dopo. Ogni episodio e' appena abbozzato, di fatto senza umorismo ne' garbo.
All'inizio il bambino e' alle prese con la poverta' e con un padre assente. La vita e' una specie di magia nella giungla e sul mare. Ma presto un'insegnante scopre che Reinaldo ha talento nello scrivere e i suoi nonni esplodono in un'ira biblica La famiglia si trasferisce in citta' e Reinaldoviene a contatto con la delinquenza giovanile, i club decadenti e i rivoluzionari. Castro vince la rivoluzione e Reinaldo si scopre omosessuale. L'omosessualita' diventa una forma di protesta contro la dittatura, che di fatto perseguita i gay. Il suo primo libro si rivela un successo e Reinaldo si guadagna amicizie importanti, tra cui una coppia che portera' la sua opera censurata a Parigi. Reinaldo viene arrestato dopo essere stato accusato di molestie da alcuni ladri . Reinaldo si getta in mare e cerca di nascondersi ma alla fine la polizia lo trova. In prigione diventa famoso scrivendo lettere per i carcerati, ma alla fine viene preso dalle guardie e messo in isolamento. Per poter ritornare a una vita normale accetta di firmare una confessione per un aitante comandante. Riconquistata la liberta', si unisce ai ribelli che hanno costruito un pallone aerostatico nella cattedrale abbandonata e progettano di mandare tre di loro in America. Durante una festa, l'ex amante di Reinaldo, che ha scoperto il suo ultimo rifugio, ruba il pallone, ma soltanto per poi precipitare qualche minuto dopo . Nel 1980 Reinaldo approfitta della proposta del regime di espellere tutti i criminali, i malati di mente e gli omosessuali. Alla fine giunge in America e comincia una nuova vita. Ha una relazione con un portinaio, ma vive in poverta'. Ma il suo amante salva la vita a Reinaldo dopo che questi tenta il suicidio, ma poi, una volta uscito dall'ospedale privo di forze, lo aiuta a morire soffocandolo con un sacchetto di plastica.

Le Scaphandre et le Papillon/ The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007), based on Jean-Dominique Bauby's memoir, is a powerful melodrama with several surrealistic scenes.

A man wakes up after a long coma. He is paralyzed and cannot speak, but he can hear and understands everything. He is in a hospital bed and soon a doctor comes to tell him that a massive stroke left him in a rare condition. They also have to sew one eye to avoid permanent damage to the cornea. We can hear Jean-Do's thoughts but they don't become words that others can hear. A speech therapist is assigned to his case. She teaches him how to spell words by blinking his eyes, so he can communicate. His body slowly appears in the film and eventually we get to see his face and his body when he is placed on a wheelchair and begins to receive visits from friends and from the wife that he deserted, Celine. One of the first people to visit him is Pierre, a stranger whose fate grotesquely intersected with him: years earlier Jean-Bo gave his airplane seat to Pierre and that plane was hijacked. Pierre ended up spending four years hostage of terrorists. His ex-wife brings him the children on father's day. His lover, instead, does not visit him. We learn that Jean-Do is a celebrity: he was the editor of a popular fashion magazine. He had signed a contract with a publisher to write a novel and suddenly he decides to write it, despite his conditions. The publisher sends him a girl who will painfully put together his sentences using the code that the speech therapist devised for him. We now hear his thoughts and guess that these are also the sentences that he dictates to Claude. A flashback introduces us to his father. When the speech therapist takes him to church against his will and he is offered the chance to travel to Lourdes (where miracles are said to happen), we see a flashback of his visit to Lourdes with his lover. His father calls but is too dejected to say much. His lover Ines finally calls just when his wife Celine is next to him. Celine has to swallow her pride and "translate" Jean-Do's answers to Ines' questions, including the final love message. Jean-Do is happy when doctors, nurses and family celebrate his birthday. He even tries to sing along. However, just when it looks like there is some progress in his conditions, he catches pneumonia. As he is dying, we see the final flashback to the day that he took his son for a ride and he had the stroke. His book has been published and Claude reads him the raving reviews that are being written about it, but he dies.

Miral (2010) is an adaptation of the 2003 novel by Rula Jebreal.

(Copyright © 1999-2017 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )