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BEFORE NIGHT FALLS

 
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At Theaters: 3/2/2001 On Video: 5/22/2001
Rated: R Length: 2 hr. 13 min.
Internet: Web Site Movie ID: 259911
Studio: Fine Line Features
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Storyline Heading
The life of Arena, from his rural childhood and his early embrace of the Revolution to the persecution he would later experience as a writer and homosexual in Castro's Cuba; from his departure from Cuba in the Mariel Harbor exodus of 1980 to his exile and death in the United States.
DETAILED STORYLINE
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Movie Type (Genre) Heading
Drama - Adults who enjoy looking at poetic images without any real emotional or narrative connection are the audience likely to warm up to this vastly overrated drama. Fans of mainstream film had best stay away, and mature themes make the film unsuitable for children.
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Cast and Crew Heading
Javier Bardem HIGH HEELS, BOCA A BOCA
Johnny Depp CHOCOLAT, THE NINTH GATE, SLEEPY HOLLOW
Sean Penn THE THIN RED LINE, HURLYBURLY, U TURN, THE GAME
Wri/Dir: Julian Schnabel BASQUIAT
Producer: Jon Kilik MALCOLM X, CLOCKERS
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Production Notes Heading
About The Production
About The Production (Continued)
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Content Heading
PROFANITY: Occasional use of mild profanity.
SEX/NUDITY: Some sex and unrelated nudity.
VIOLENCE: Some roughhousing; a tame killing.
DRUGS/ALCOHOL: Alcohol and tobacco use.
ACTION: None.
COMEDY: An instance of bodily function humor.
DETAILED CONTENT
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Critic's Review Heading
Average
Reinaldo Arenas was a gay Cuban poet, and given the harsh government in Cuba, he was severely persecuted for those other two labels. There’s nothing in that statement that couldn’t be offered in a footnote in a history book, yet those facts are all you learn about Arenas in Julian Schnabel's overrated film, which purports to be a biography yet turns out to be a hazy sketch.

DETAILED CRITIC'S REVIEW
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D ETAILED S TORYLINE

Reinaldo Arenas was born on July 16, 1943 to a beautiful young woman (Olatz Lopez Garmendia) who was soon abandoned by Reinaldo's father. So his mother returned with him to her parents farm where he grow up as a young boy.

Reinaldo's life was an exploration of his identity as a writer and a homosexual, each activity pursued with zest and joy. He entered a storytelling contest, and his evident gifts led to his securing work at the prestigious National Library. He was befriended by some of Cuba's most celebrated writers. At the age of 20, he wrote his first novel, 'Singing From the Well', which was awarded First Mention in the country's Cirilo Villaverde National Competition.

'Singing From the Well' was to be Reinaldo's only book published in his native country. By the late 1960s, the Cuban government had begun a brutal crackdown on artists and homosexuals. Writers were forced to renounce their work and homosexuals were rounded up and sent to labor camps whose flowery titles belied their cruelty. Despite the danger, Reinaldo continued to write, giving free reign to his irreverent, outspoken vision. His second novel, 'Hallucinations', was smuggled out of Cuba and published in France, earning him the hostility of Castro's government. 

In 1980, Castro allowed homosexuals, mental patients and criminals to leave Cuba in the Mariel Harbor boatlift; a last-minute change to his passport allowed Reinaldo to leave the country undetected. Settling in New York, he began his life as an exile: impover ished and stateless, but with his appetite for life and writing still fierce, his humor, rage and honesty intact. His struggles were far from over, though; after he contracted AIDS, he waged a truly furious race against death to complete his works-in-progress. By the time of his death in 1990, Reinaldo had written over 20 books, including 10 novels as well as numerous short stories, poems, essays and plays. His body of work is arguably the most passionate and angry ever written against the totalitarian state. Reinaldo Arenas' memoir, 'Before Night Falls', was published in English in 1993 and was listed by 'The New York Times Book Review' as one of the year's Best Books.

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