Monthly Archives: April 2016

Film Review: Papa: Hemingway In Cuba

Film Review: Papa: Hemingway In Cuba

Bob Yari’s film Papa: Hemingway In Cuba has received a great deal of press for its authenticity. It is the first Hollywood film shot in Cuba since the 1959 revolution, even utilizing Hemingway’s home Finca Vigia (which is now a museum).

The location shots are striking, and so is Adrian Sparks’ performance as Ernest Hemingway. Unfortunately, the story as told does not do either of them justice.

Denne Bart Petitclerc wrote the autobiographical script prior to his death in 2006. He created a fictional alter ego named Ed Meyers, played by Giovanni Ribisi in the film. Meyers is a young reporter for the Miami Herald in the late 1950s.Papa Hemingway In Cuba Ed & Duffle

Abandoned by his father at a young age, Meyers has taken Hemingway as a literary and personal role model. He writes a fan letter to his idol. To Meyers’ amazement, Hemingway calls him. Next thing you know, Meyers is Hemingway’s houseguest in Cuba.

Meyers finds himself virtually adopted by Hemingway and his wife Mary (Joely Richardson). The naïve Meyers gets a crash-course in manhood and journalism, Hemingway style. He also gets to witness Papa at some of his worst moments- being cruel to Mary, suffering through writer’s block and impotence, threatening to shoot himself.Papa Hemingway In Cuba Typewriter

All the exotic locales and Sparks’ uncanny resemblance to Hemingway (well-rendered by cinematographer Ernesto Melara) seem wasted on such a formulaic story. The script gives us a laundry list of personal and political issues affecting Hemingway, primarily through mediocre dialogue. (Example; “The only value we have as human beings are the risks we’re willing to take.”) We are led to think the situation inspires Meyers, which grows increasingly difficult to believe.

This theme, young man given life lessons by famous man he idolizes, is not a new one in film. Two films, My Favorite Year and Me And Orson Welles (this week’s companion film), handle it much more effectively. Both films give full-spectrum portraits of their larger-than-life characters-pluses, minuses, and points between. Papa: Hemingway In Cuba seems to proceed from the assumption that you are already a fan of the man. It makes the film heavy going in places.Papa Hemingway In Cuba Ernest & Mary

Even so, good performances will keep you involved with Papa: Hemingway In Cuba far longer than you might expect. Sparks, who starred in a 2005 one-man show called Papa, is definitely reason to see this film. He receives strong support from Ribisi and, especially, from Richardson.

But if you are more a fan of Hemingway the writer than Hemingway the man, I am inclined to recommend a copy of The Old Man And The Sea instead.

Theme: Creative Mentors

Related Posts: Film Appreciation: Me And Orson Welles   http://www.thinkingcinema.com/film-appreciation-me-and-orson-welles/

Creative Mentors: List For Week Ending May 1, 2016  http://www.thinkingcinema.com/creative-mentors-list-for-week-ending-may-1-2016/

 

 

 

 

 

Film Appreciation: Me And Orson Welles

Film Appreciation: Me And Orson Welles

Every so often, I get a happy surprise when I start doing research to write my article for the week’s companion film. That is exactly what happened this week. I am writing on 2008’s Me And Orson Welles, which is based on the novel by Robert Kaplow. The film and backstory on the novel bothContinue Reading

Creative Mentors: List For Week Ending May 1, 2016

Creative Mentors: List For Week Ending May 1, 2016

This week’s films all feature an aspiring artist who is mentored by a larger-than-life Artist. For purposes of this list, “artist” means anyone involved in a creative endeavor (writing, acting, painting, etc.). Often these films are biopics. Some, like My Favorite Year, are fictitious but based on real-life people. This is not intended as anContinue Reading

Film Review: Viva

Film Review: Viva

Viva, Paddy Breathnach’s poignant new film, deals with themes of identity and acceptance. Though the narrative may seem familiar, Viva’s rendering of Havana and heartfelt performances make it worth your time. Jesus (Héctor Medina) is a hairdresser in Havana for a troupe of transformistas (drag performers). Although his mother is dead and his father absent,Continue Reading

Film Appreciation: La Cage Aux Folles

Film Appreciation: La Cage Aux Folles

I did not select 1978’s La Cage Aux Folles as this week’s companion film because of its comedy. My reviewed film, Viva, deals with a young gay man and the issues his sexuality causes his father. La Cage Aux Folles deals with a similar situation, just with the father/son roles reversed. La Cage Aux FollesContinue Reading

Film Review: The Dark Horse

Film Review: The Dark Horse

At first glance, you may think you have seen The Dark Horse before. Stand And Deliver with chess, right? One of those uplifting films where an improbable mentor helps at-risk kids find a bit of direction? It is like that, but not just that. Gritty depictions of the adversity facing these kids and a stunningContinue Reading

Film Appreciation: Whale Rider

Film Appreciation: Whale Rider

April 17 I have written about Whale Rider in this space before, though from a different view. Previously, I dealt with the idea that we are not always capable of recognizing changes that occur before our eyes. Since this post is a companion to The Dark Horse, I will mention specific areas within Maori cultureContinue Reading

Film Review: Mr. Right

Film Review: Mr. Right

Mr. Right is not exactly the film it pretends to be. For all its bluster and action sequences, it wants to be an offbeat romantic comedy. Full-out performances by Sam Rockwell and Anna Kendrick put Mr. Right tantalizingly close to this goal. However, not even these talented performers can overcome the deficiencies in Max Landis’Continue Reading