Saturday, August 11, 2007
Beautiful Roma (no, not the perfume)
Part of Chaya's care package from a couple weeks back was a CD of wonderful Gypsy music. It's yet another example of her mystical intuition and foresight, because if I hadn't enjoyed that CD so much, I might have declined my violin teacher's suggestion that we go see Gypsy Caravan last night. What a mistake that would have been. This is a terrific film. It's a nice little crash course on modern-day Romani culture, but it's also just about the best portrayal I've ever seen of musicians' lives. And it's (mostly) tremendous fun. There's one incredibly sad passage, a true tear-jerker that hits very hard because the rest of the movie has been so funny and joyful. The movie's major flaw is that it indulges in a little too much preachy narration about persecution of the Roma. (That persecution is very real, of course, and is essential to the story of the performers, but the Roma in the film do a perfectly good job of telling their story themselves. They don't need Johnny Depp, who has an overlong cameo, to do it for them. )
The film moves back and forth between the musicians' lives on tour, and their lives back home, so there are scenes in Spain, Romania and India, as well as the US. Albert Maysles was in charge of the camera work, and there are some truly stunning scenes, especially in Rajasthan. Oh, and some serious eye candy in the form of a Spanish flamenco dancer named Antonio. If you're not one of those lucky people who've had the chance to see it already at Tribeca and other film festivals, click here for a calendar of upcoming screenings worldwide. And there's another site devoted to the film here.