Prentiss Riddle: Movies

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Before Night Falls

Before Night Falls, Julian Schnabel's terrific film about persecuted Cuban writer Reynaldo Arenas, makes such use of its backdrop of a dreamy and crumbling Cuba that I stayed till the bitter end of the credits to determine that it wasn't shot there. It wasn't -- the Mexican cities of Veracruz and Mérida did a quite credible job as stand-ins. Which leaves me wondering: is the lack of black faces in the movie intended to be historically accurate (were Arenas' gay and literary circles relatively closed to Afro-Cubans)? Or is it due to an error of casting and a shortage of Afro-Mexican extras? I suppose it's a minor quibble about a movie that manages to make one believe in Javier Bardem as a wisp of a teenager.

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