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Music Makers: Buena Vista Social Club [Import]

Ry Cooder , Joaquim Cooder , Wim Wenders    G (General Audience)   DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (117 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 16.44 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Music Makers: Buena Vista Social Club [Import] + Buena Vista Social Club + Buena Vista Social Club Presents Ibrahim Ferrer
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Down from the Mountain
If you love the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, D.A. Pennebaker, Chris Hegedus, and Nick Doob's exhilarating concert film Down from the Mountain will be sheer heaven. And if you're new to bluegrass and "old-time mountain-style" music, the performances will be a revelation. John Hartford, Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch, the Cox family, the venerable Ralph Stanley, and other traditional and alt-country artists who contributed the music to the Coen brothers' spaced odyssey gathered onstage in May 2000 at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium to benefit the Country Music Hall of Fame. Interviews and rehearsal footage set the stage for this stupendous concert, highlights of which include "(Didn't Leave) Nobody but the Baby" by the sirens Harris, Welch, and Krauss; the Coxes' "(Will There Be) Any Stars in My Crown"; and Stanley's haunting "O Death." As one performer recommends, "Just ease in, sit down, and listen." It could be your salvation. --Donald Liebenson

Buena Vista Social Club
In 1996, composer, producer, and guitar legend Ry Cooder entered Egrem Studios in Havana with the forgotten greats of Cuban music, many of them in their 60s and 70s, some of them long since retired. The resulting album, Buena Vista Social Club, became a Grammy-winning international bestseller. When Cooder returned to Havana in 1998 to record a solo album by 72-year-old vocalist Ibrahim Ferrer, filmmaker Wim Wenders was on hand to document the occasion. Wenders splits the film between portraits of the performers, who tell their stories directly to the camera as they wander the streets and neighborhoods of Havana, and a celebration of the music heard in performance scenes in the studio, in their first concert in Amsterdam, and in their second and final concert at Carnegie Hall. The songs are too often cut short in this fashion, but Buena Vista Social Club is not a concert film. Wenders weaves the artist biographies with a glimpse of modern Cuba remembering its past, capturing a lost culture in music that is suddenly, unexpectedly revived for audiences in Havana and around the world. It's a loving portrait of a master class in Cuban music, with a vital cast of aging performers whose energy and passion belie their years. --Sean Axmaker


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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The tapestry of life through their music March 12 2004
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
A previous writer's comment, "The movie needs a story, a thread going all the way through," illustrates a major difference between North American and Hispanic thinking. While those of northern European descent tend to think and talk in a more or less linear fashion, as if following just one thread, Hispanics tend to think and talk as if weaving a tapestry of many threads. This film captures perfectly the tapestry effect in that you are not aware that a story is being told until the final scene at Carnegie Hall, when the impact, and the import, of the entire picture becomes crystal clear. You have to be comfortable with not knowing exactly where you are to handle this kind of exposition. If this is not a story of excellence forgotten and rediscovered, I don't know what it is. These people give me hope; their lives tell so many important stories! If I can create half the beauty in my old age as they do and have done with their music, I'll consider myself successful and fulfilled, indeed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Stroke of Genius Jan. 18 2004
Format:DVD
If you have never been to Cuba, this is a mildly amusing documentary about a chapter in the history of carribean music. If, however, you have walked through the neigborhood of Buena Vista on 70th Street in La Habana or watched the sun go down from the Malecón at the mouth of the Rio Almendares this film will make your mouth go dry and your eyes water. Vim Wenders and Ry Cooder, quite by accident discovered a cache of musicians who had played in the forties in a Cabaret called the Buena Vista Social Club that is now long gone. They have common characteristics, they are old, they were forgotten and they were and are incredibly gifted. Some have now died in their eighties and nineties. They were rescued and recorded in the nick of time. The film is apolitical and was shot digitally without apology. The CD from the sound track sold gozillions of copies and raised the export of Cuban music and musicians to be a world treasure. The type of music is called "son" and arose from the Danzon (the big dance) of the early part of the century. Played by three to six musician with uncomplicated instruments, you get to meet each of them individually. Collectively, son is "guajiro" or country boy music. The stars, including Compay Segundo, Eliades Ochoa and the charming Ibrahim Ferrar will become perpetually embedded in your memory. Until this country comes to its senses you will be deprived of the experience of this touching world, but until then you can enjoy it vicariously at the Buena Vista Social Club.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Horrible sound editing trivializes the experience March 25 2002
Format:VHS Tape
Yes, I saw the movie. I had reveled in music like this on another compilation titled 'Cuba Classics: Dancing with the Enemy'. But the movie destroys the sense of how these musicians rhythmically mesh with and play off of each other.
This is not sopping-wet-with-ego rock music, for Pete's sake! This is genuine virtuoso Cuban dance music, but Cooder and his crew, when isolating each individual musician, decided to turn down the volume of all the other parts! How ridiculous! There were only a very few short segments when you get to hear how the ensemble actually sounds like. I mean, what's the point?
Many of the instruments (such as the piano) which are used almost exclusively as melodic/harmonic instruments in our culture are more engaged in for their rhythmic propensities in Cuba and Africa. Isolating them like this completely kills the sense that this is music.
And then oftentimes when the whole ensemble is playing, the engineer dials in so much reverb that it muddies up the mux. Again, you lose the sense of what Cuban music is, and how it sounds. What right do these guys have to make roots music sound something like reverb-drenched heavy metal? There's a difference between freedom of speech and free dumb of screech!

I was very surprized a couple of years after the movie to be in a coffee shop here in town and hear some absolute kick-butt old-style Cuban music playing on their stereo. I asked what it was, and found that it was the the original 'Buena Vista Social Club' CD compilation which came out sometime prior to the movie and inspired it. This CD did not have the problems at all that came with the later video/movie, at least not the cuts I got to listen to.
Note that if you don't know this type music very well, the documentary parts of the movie are excellent . . . probably at least 4 stars for that, probably more.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:DVD
I am mystified by the reviews below - this is one of the worst documentaries I've ever seen!
Despite having access to all of the great musicians in the Buena Vista Social Club, WE LEARN NEXT TO NOTHING ABOUT THESE PEOPLE. In all honesty, I found out more about the musicians from the two page bios that were included on the "About the Musicians" section of the DVD, than I did from watching the movie.
Don't get me wrong, the music is great... but I have the CD! The great music was what caused me to buy this movie. I got the sense through the entire movie that it had been quickly thrown together to help sell more CD's.
I was hoping to find out more about the artists who made such beautiful music on the CD... What were their careers like? Who were their influences? What were the major events in their lives? How did Cuban culture influence them and their music? NO SUCH LUCK. We are treated to a short 2-3 min. synopsis of how each musician became a musician, and that's it - quick cut to a live performance of a song!
It's really tragic that the producers of this movie did not put as much effort into it as they did the CD (which is awesome). This could have been a really great documentary.
MY ADVICE TO PEOPLE WHO LIKED THE CD - IF YOU JUST WANT TO SEE SOME OF THE SONGS ON THE CD PERFORMED LIVE, THEN THIS IS FOR YOU, BUT IF YOU WANT TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE ARTISTS WHO MADE THE MUSIC, I WOULD THINK TWICE...
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars beware region codes!!
This DVD came out of the U.K. market. I didn't know that I would
be unable to view it on my DVD player due to region blocks...............very disappointing! Read more
Published 3 months ago by Catherine Duffield
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, nice combination of studio, street and concert
I really enjoyed the movement through Cuba, from the gathering of musicians, what they are about, the studio work and the concert. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Leigh Cassidy
5.0 out of 5 stars Buena vista social club
I already had this film on VHS but this concert is really a jewel, so I'll look at it over and over. A musical treasure
Published 18 months ago by Alfred Martel
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully touching
A Remarkable documentary for all of the reasons stated by others. A touching tribute to now mostly deceased musicians/singers from Cuba's heyday - well it was a heyday of sorts... Read more
Published 24 months ago by cbgb
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating!
WOW! I didn't know the Buena Vista, and this DVD is just perfect! I'm fascinated by those artists. Also, the DVD shows a lot of Cuban society.
Published on April 16 2009 by M. Grenon
4.0 out of 5 stars Quit grousing, it's fun and great music!! Share discographys
I was "introduced" to the Latin music by my Brazilian neighbor, but give Ry Cooder his due folks. Read more
Published on July 19 2004 by Eric Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars I wish I was a Carnegie in '98 to See them
I wish was could have been a Carnegie Hall in '98 to see this group. I watched this DVD with tears in my eyes because I knew this was era and a set of legends that will fade into... Read more
Published on May 17 2004 by Angelo M. Sanchez
4.0 out of 5 stars Musically Solid
The film captures the live peformance of the wonderful musicians that were featured on the CD. From this perspective it is well worth owning. Read more
Published on Jan. 25 2004 by R. J. Marsella
3.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat Disappointing
A fairly enjoyable musical travelogue -- saved mostly by the high quality of the music itself -- but I expected more. Read more
Published on Jan. 9 2004 by J. Christmas
3.0 out of 5 stars Halfway Between a Documentary and a Concert DVD
I absolutely loved the Buena Vista Social Club album, but this DVD was not all that I had hoped for. It had a nice slow pace, but it became a bit boring at times. Read more
Published on Nov. 9 2003 by New Yorker
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