Year 8, Day 17 - 1/17/16 - Movie #2,217
BEFORE: Usually I watch my movies in the wee hours of the morning, but today I'm holding off until the afternoon, so I can watch this with my wife - she's my guide through the world of recent musicals, like "Into the Woods" and "Les Miserables". I know she's familiar with the music here, though she's never seen the stage production or this film. Still, I'd rather watch this one with her than without her, kind of like with "The Exorcist". Antonio Banderas carries over from "Original Sin", and the setting shifts from Cuba down to Argentina.
I've just noticed a linking crisis coming up next week, when I drew up the January schedule, it looks a couple of last-minute additions threw off my chain, and I'm too far into the month to change things around - I tried re-ordering the next 14 films, but that didn't make a consistent chain. So it looks like I'll have one indirect link next week, unless I drop in a replacement, which would fix things, but then would create an indirect linking later on, and/or a complete re-organization of March and April's line-up, and I just got those the way I want them. So I'll have to think about it. One indirect link isn't so bad, I'll probably have two in February just to knock off all the romance films on the list. Stay tuned.
THE PLOT: The hit musical based on the life of Evita Duarte, a B-picture Argentinian actress who eventually became the wife of Argentinian president Juan Perón, and the most beloved and hated woman in Argentina.
AFTER: I admit that I know very little about Eva Peron, I didn't even know why sometimes "Eva" was called "Evita", though I know realize I was asking the question backwards. All I really knew about her was that Argentina was told not to cry for her, and that she kept her promise, whatever it was, and hoped that other people would then not keep their distance. So, yeah, that's not a lot.
The film opens with Evita's funeral (whoops, SPOILER ALERT, sorry), and then immediately flashes back to 1926 and her father's funeral, which was a much more modest affair. I had a bad feeling I was in for another round of time-jumping through someone's life, like "Get On Up" did with James Brown's story, but after the opening sequence at least this film settled down into a more chronological narrative timeline. Obviously this goes back to the stage play of "Evita", but I'd like to figure out once and for all when it became so fashionable to tear a famous person's life apart and present it to the audience in pieces, this constant "Benjamin un-Buttoning" of history where we watch old people become young again.
Ultimately, I guess I have to blame Orson Welles - was "Citizen Kane" the first film to get away with this and really succeed, challenging the audience to put the puzzle pieces together in our own minds to get a picture of someone's life? Perhaps more research is required, but
The appearance of Ché (Guevara?) as the all-purpose, all-knowing narrator, who pops up as a bartender, waiter, janitor or reporter in nearly every scene - it's an obvious contrivance, because I don't think he could have held down that many jobs at once and still been a revolutionary, right? I guess he represents the spirit of revolution in Latin America, but did he and Eva Peron ever even meet in real life? I guess it doesn't matter, but jeez, they're shown embracing on the poster, teasing a scene that didn't even happen in the film, except as a dream/fantasy.
The tagline calls Evita the "most beloved and hated" woman in Argentina - how does this happen? I wish the film had taken a little bit of time to explain how this is possible, but it sounds like a complicated subject. And anything here that seems complicated - labor unions, feminism, socialism - gets sort of explained away with a line from a song, or an image of a marching army or a newspaper headline. It's as if mentioning a few political buzzwords could sum up the history of Argentinian politics, but I'm left feeling like I don't understand it any more than I did before.
I mean, a former first lady from the working class who then spent time away from politics, but then comes back into power, with hopes of becoming vice-president or even president herself? That sounds...wait a minute, it sounds familiar. I'm a little surprised no one else has made that connection, what with election coverage being broadcast around the clock this year - OK, so maybe NOW I understand how someone can simultaneously be beloved and hated at the same time. So why not explain more about why she was such a polarizing figure? Evita, that is, not Hillary Clinton.
Also starring Madonna (last seen in "Four Rooms"), Jonathan Pryce (last seen in "The Age of Innocence"), Jimmy Nail.
RATING: 5 out of 10 showering soldiers