Alice in Wondertown - First Run Features
Cuban films, most of which were hard to find in the United States, now are becoming available in amazing quantities. And this is great, because these movies, for better or for worse, talk for the Cubans and their realities. "Alice in Wondertown" (Alicia en el Pueblo de Maravillas) is a superb example of this. It is a quite a smart, entertaining, and mostly funny film, that takes a satirical look at day-to-day life on the island.
The movie was inspired by Lewis Carroll's classic "Alice in Wonderland," and it stars Thais Valdés, who plays Alicia Díaz, a TV reporter that decides to quit her job, and go to work to the town of Maravillas de Noveras, where she will work as an acting teacher. Once she arrives, she realizes that this is no ordinary town, which in part makes sense, because it doesn't belong to any Cuban province, but it is rather located between two of them. Maravillas is always windy and dark, and Alicia learns that she will be working at the Sanatorium Treatment (known as SATAN), a convalescence hospital, in which she will be putting together plays for their theater. However, it doesn't take time for her to discover that there is a method to the madness of the city, and SATAN itself provides the key to the insanity in Maravillas. She will try to change things for good, and is told that "if you want to live here, you have to earn it." Got that right.
Ably directed by veteran Daniel Díaz Torres, who was also responsible for the critically successful "Hacerse el Sueco" (2001), "Alice in Wondertown" talks to us about life in Cuba and issues of censorship. And this is curious, because, in a way, the film perhaps indirectly sends a message to those that claim that there is total lack of freedom in the island. The DVD also includes the short "Paul Kopinsky," by Malte Ollroge; an interview with Daniel Díaz Torres; a director's note on the film's 17th birthday; and more. (Cuba, 1990, color, 93 min plus additional materials).
Reviewed on October 17, 2010 exclusively by Eric Gonzalez for [...]