Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire
Palmer's film is that rare concert doc that isn't for established fans only.
Like the work of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who is one of the outspoken supporters of this film, "Alsino and the Condor" is a mixture of poetry, political reality and fantasy. There seems to be some sort of a romantic muse at work in the films and novels of Latin American artists, reminding them to decorate their tragedies with butterflies and dreams. As a result, any description of "Alsino" is likely to make the film sound too factual; it's a war story that takes place largely inside the mind of a dreamy little boy.
The movie, which was one of this year's Oscar nominees for best foreign films, takes place in Nicaragua during the fighting with Honduras. American advisers work with the government in the war against the guerrillas. Helicopters, troop carriers and tanks come and go across the lush landscape where the peasants plow their fields in the rain, and the little boy, Alsino, becomes enraptured by the sight of the airborne soldiers.
A US adviser (Dean Stockwell) takes the kid up in a helicopter. It is one of the great experiences of his life, but it is not quite good enough. "I want to fly without the helicopter," he tells his friend. "I want to fly like the condor." There is a giant, ancient tree near the village where the boy spends his free time, climbing through its enormous network of branches like a monkey. One day, dreaming of flying, he jumps out of the tree. His back is injured in the fall and he becomes a hunchback.
But this is not a predictably tragic outcome. The young boy, played with a luminous intensity by a 12-year-old Nicaraguan named Alan Esquivel, is not so much crushed by his injury as bemused by it. At one point, asked what happened to his back, he says he hurt it trying to fly, and then he grins at his own presumption.
This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...
A review of Netflix's new series, Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events," which premieres January 13.
Meryl Streep and other awards recipients shared their thoughts on an America under Donald Trump during last night's G...
A review of NBC's "Emerald City," premiering January 6th.