So, after helping Julian wrestle his steel macromolecule sculpture into an elevator (the gallery was on the top floor), and then into the back of his car (tight squeeze) -- the piece is on its way to a chemist in Australia -- and after attending the Jared Diamond lecture, reviewed in a parallel blog, I headed over to Fox Tower for the late night showing of Motorcycle Diaries.
This soft focus chronicle documents Che Guevara's gradual sensitization to the economic injustices being visited upon Latin Americans, especially its long suffering indigenous peoples. He donates precious hard currency, earmarked to buy a swimsuit for his girlfriend, to a forlorn couple recently driven from their land and forced to compete for slave wages in the mines.
His companion, Alberto, who gets flak for being fat (his weight problem was hardly noticable by US standards), discovers the cash is gone when the ship's prostitute comes on to him. Ever resourceful, he wins the needed funds in the ship's casino instead. Meanwhile, in his partially overlapping scenario as Bucky would say, Ernesto ("Che" was his middle name) was suffering the aftermath of a severe asthma attack (the guy had shitty lungs).
The contrasting characters of Ernesto and Alberto provide the foreground depth in this film, with scenic backdrops and an ever-puttering motorcycle (until it dies) setting the stage. They're both quite interested in women, with Alberto the older, bolder and more gregarious of the two. But Ernesto's looks, shyness, and quiet intensity make him quite the chick magnet -- not forgetting his integrity and sometimes brutal honesty (his withering criticism of that amateur writer's first novel wasn't very constructive, even if sincere).
Those disciples who know the rest of Che's story in detail (not me) should find this movie a satisfying prelude to his later canonization (he's right up there with Elvis and John Lennon). This is both biography and hagiography, and what's so bad about that? We can all learn from the lives of the saints, the boddhisatvas.
That the CIA gets blamed for Che's murder rightly continues to inspire outrage and mistrust of North American foreign policy architects, who have a long track record of messing up in this hemisphere (Chile, Argentina...). Consider Che's comrade Fidel, who escaped murder many times -- there's an entire museum devoted to the plots against him -- and who now suffers the effects of old age (including a recent fall): even to this day the US embargo continues. True, human rights are not unlimited in Castro's Cuba, but relative to what standard? Guantanamo?
Old timers at the federal level, like many Florida voters, never forgave Castro for ending the control of well-connected crime bosses over Havana's lucrative casino economy. Castro became a hot button issue at many a candidate fundraising dinner in Las Vegas, and punishing his defiance was a top priority of the Kennedy administration.
Speaking of Las Vegas, I'll be interested to see how The Aviator handles the final chapter of the Howard Hughes story. I've always imagined him a sort of ringwraith, pulling political strings from his private hospital/penthouse, somewhat effectively.