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Film Picks

[whitespace] By Richard von Busack

Lágrimas Negras (1997)
Aug. 5-11 at the Red Vic Theater.

Doomed to be known as the other movie about an aged Cuban band, due to its release around the same time as Buena Vista Social Club. But the group Vieja Trova Santiaguera is from Santiago de Cuba, which seems a cheerier city than the Wenders'-eye visions of Havana. The entire film seems to take place during a long golden afternoon. The troupe--successful, pensioned musicians in their 80s--goes on tour to England and Catalonia. The old men recall a life spent playing music and fathering illegitimate children. The music is saltier and spicier than the BV Club's tunes, with roguish verses about seduction ("Don't be afraid, I'm not a panther"). Director Sonia Herman Dolz hasn't lost her faith in Cuban socialism; she records a procession in Che's memory and a respect-paying trip to Karl Marx's tomb in Highgate Cemetery.

Instrument: 10 Years With the Band Fugazi
Aug. 7 at the Yerba Buena Center

Documentary maker Jem Cohen collaborates with the Washington, D.C., band in an impressionistic film about these heroes of the hardcore scene. Keeping their ticket prices low and insisting on all-ages shows, Fugazi has tried to keep its integrity while everyone else was losing theirs.

The Iron Giant
Opes Aug. 6.

Superb, often emotionally powerful full-length cartoon free of the usual cheesy show tunes. Hogarth, a young boy in Maine, 1957, adopts an alien giant robot who has amnesia. The robot is like a beloved, undisciplined pet that causes terror in everyone it meets. The Iron Giant is more retold than told; it's easy to predict everything from the government's paranoid reaction to the E.T.-style ending. And yet the animation is lush, funny and thrilling. Jennifer Aniston supplies the voice of Hogarth's mother; Harry Connick Jr. does the voice of Dean, the beatnik hero (and Connick's hipster routine has never quite worked until this film). Vin Diesel (Pvt. Caparzo from Saving Private Ryan) plays the robot; his voice, electronically treated, sounds like a talking smokestack. The film is based on poet Ted Hughes' children's book, The Iron Man.

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From the August 2, 1999 issue of the Metropolitan.

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